When two of the most high profile groups, “Occupy Wall Street” and “Occupy Oakland” encampments in New York City and Oakland, California, were shut down earlier this week by local police, the demonstrators did not go quietly, and vowed to return to mark the two month anniversary of the demonstrations.
Routed from their tent city in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan and forbidden to camp out in the park, they returned to the park in smaller numbers and sat up all night, conforming to the park rules that forbid sleeping there. The next day, they marched on Wall Street. When they began to disrupt traffic, more than 75 were arrested.
In other cities around the country, groups planned for more demonstration. Police forces were brought out to help maintain order in Portland, Los Angeles and Dallas. Portland demonstrators called for “decentralized-yet-coordinated nonviolent civil disobedience against big banks” on their website, urging them to disrupt business. “Let’s shut them down!” it says. One of the supporting organizations is “We are Oregon”, which has declared “a state of economic emergency for the 99%”. Demonstrators gathered in front of downtown hotels, chanting “We are the 99%.”
In Texas, the Occupy Dallas encampment was shut down as scores of Dallas police officers moved in late Wednesday and early Thursday to evict the protest group. An agreement with the city was reached Wednesday that allows protesters to stay at a campsite near City Hall four more weeks – as long as they obey the law.
In Berkley, California, 2,000 students and protesters reportedly gathered at the campus and rebuilt their tent city, in spite of a university-wide ban on camping. Hundreds of Occupy Oakland demonstrators joined the Berkeley protesters after their own camp outside the city hall was shut down on Monday.
San Diego police officers moved through the Occupy San Diego encampment near the Civic Center at 2 am on Wednesday, the second raid there to shut down what the police said was dirty and dangerous. The officers reported that they saw drugs and weapons. Nine people were arrested and jailed.
In Indianapolis, Indiana, demonstrators in the Occupy Indy encampment on the Statehouse lawn were given 24 hours to clear out before crews would begin cleaning up the grounds. The state threatened to arrest anyone who interferes.
In Los Angeles, protesters shut down an intersection. In Columbia, South Carolina, Gov. Nikki Haley ordered the Occupy Columbia group to leave the grounds of the State House.
In San Francisco, hundreds of protesters marched through the city, accompanied by demonstrators from UC Berkeley, who arrived by the busload to support members of Occupy San Francisco. The group briefly occupied a Bank of America branch before continuing down Market Street. Large groups of protesters flooded downtown city streets in an apparent standoff with authorities.
Events are also planned in Boston, Minneapolis, and other cities.
While organizers stress that the plans are nonviolent, the “mass day” comes after a demonstrator in New York was arrested for allegedly making violent threats.
Nkrumah Tinsley, 29, also was accused of “aggravated harassment” on Wednesday evening in Zuccotti Park, where the movement began, New York police said.
Tinsley is seen in a YouTube video making threats toward a department store. “In a few days, you’re going to see what a Molotov cocktail can do to Macy’s,” he said.
In another part of the video, Tinsley threatens to burn New York City to the ground on Thursday.
Wednesday’s arrest is Tinsley’s second in as many months. He was arrested on October 26 for assaulting a police officer.
About 200 Occupy Wall Street demonstrators were arrested Wednesday, police said.
While the city has come under fire from protesters and other critics for arrests and removing protesters from Zuccotti Park, Wolfson insisted that “we had to act” to stop illegal activity, such as drug use, and to eliminate fire hazards.
“This is a place where we honor the First Amendment,” Wolfson said Thursday.
Meanwhile, in California, police cleared the tent city in front of Oakland City Hall before dawn Monday and arrested more than 50 people. They claimed that the action came because of citizen complaints about public safety, lack of sanitation, and drug use.
Another anti-Wall Street group is planning to converge at the University of California, Berkeley, today to make an new attempt to set up an Occupy Cal camp. Last week police arrested dozens of protesters who tried to pitch their tents on campus.
Analysis The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations began in downtown New York City, but Adbusters, a Vancouver-based activist group, claims that they came up with the idea of occupying Wall Street to protest corporate influence on democracy in mid-July. Adbusters suggested Sept. 17 as a starting date to coincide with America’s Constitution Day, and the idea quickly spread online with help from the hacker group Anonymous. As the movement grew it quickly attracted names like George Soros and Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi, who praised the movement.
There is particular irony that Pelosi embraced the grass roots movement, which, among other things, promotes the redistribution of wealth. Pelosi is among the richest members of Congress,with an estimated net worth of approximately $58 million. No doubt she would be among those whose wealth would be redistributed, if the Occupy demonstrators would have their way.
Forecast: Now that many of the Occupy encampments have been dismantled, including those with the highest profiles, the question is “What next?”
The Occupy movement began in something just this side of chaos, and now needs to rethink its next move. The likelihood that the movement will continue to promote its socialist/anarchist mission is the most probable scenario, although the likelihood that they may soon begin to regroup and reorganize is strong.
A true grass-roots movement might naturally implode at this point, but there are deep pockets behind these grass-roots. The people with the money also have an agenda and will no doubt want to reinvent the energy that was behind the thousands of demonstrators around the world. In its next iteration, the movement is likely to have better organization and a stronger, more cohesive message. The money behind it will ensure that these early, disorganized efforts will not have gone to waste.
This is a presidential election year, and the Occupy movement, in whatever form it takes next, will be needed to counteract the conservative Tea Party movement. Watch for it.
The messages from the protestors were varied and ran the gamut from “Billionaires Your Time is Up” to “Occupy Everything”, and covered waivers for student loan repayment, universal distribution of wealth, complaints against the rich, and jobs.
At one point, the Occupy movement raced around the world from New York to London, Stockholm, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Manila, and across the US. The closing down of the encampments in New York and Oakland marks a change in the Occupy movement.
Comment to OWS from anonymous reader: Actually, you guys make up about 2% of the population, and you’re losing support very fast, police are evicting the camps because the avg american has grown weary of OWS, I used to be an anarchist that lived on the street, and you had my support till yesterday, peaceful protesters, declaring class war, not listening to others and being ignorant and closed minded towards others and each other