Last night, the Constitution of the United States of America was figuratively shredded, tossed to the ground, and urinated on by the City of New York. While Americans were distracted by the festivities of New Year’s Eve, police did not bother with their previous façade of enforcing park rules and city code. When citizens of the United States of America assembled in a public park, police ordered them to leave with no explanation. When they used the sidewalk to leave, police demanded the sidewalk was also closed. When they left the area, they learned that to their group additional parts of the city were now closed. When credentialed agents of the press tried to document the event, the police shoved the press aside.
“One officer used two hands to repeatedly shove backwards a credentialed news photographer who was preparing to document an arrest.” – New York Times (1)
What makes last night’s police assault on Occupy Wall Street so very important is that police made no attempt to use the façade of enforcing park rules or city code. Nobody was camping. The park is open 24 hours a day and sidewalks are intended to be walked upon. So just what was the difference between protesters in Zuccotti Park and revelers in Time Square this New Year’s Eve? The message being spread by those who occupied Time Square was approved by city officials and the message being spread by those who occupied Zuccotti Park was not.
“It’s absurd to block people out of a public park.” – Jesse LaGreca quoted by New York Daily Times (3)
Yes Jesse, it is absurd that one of the richest men in the United States (1%) would celebrate New Year’s Eve midtown with Lady Gaga while police carried out his orders to clear a city park of those who seek to call attention to the struggles of the poor (99%). We imagine Mayor Bloomberg (1%) was bringing in the New Year when one of his many aids informed him that the 99% had entered the park. Did he respond by ordering “Operation Let them Eat Cake”?
With the Christmas season come and gone, our television commercials have moved from gift ideas to New Year’s Eve resolutions. Instead of the near constant drone telling us where we can save money, commercials switched to telling us how to make our belly smaller, our penis larger, and our social life more active. If not an advertisement for weight watchers, it was Smiling Bob or Match.com. As thousands watched the ball drop in Time Square, many wondered what Occupy Wall Street was up to. With so many people glued to their TV set to watch Dick Clark’s New Year’s Eve celebration in Time Square, surely protesters would want to take advantage of the free air time. Instead, they were back in Zuccotti Park. Where better to Occupy New Year’s Eve?
“Whose year? Our year!” – New York Times quotes protester (1)
Protesters raised the American flag (2) and set about celebrating New Year’s Eve in traditional Occupy style. Drums rather than party noise makers echoed through the park. Signs and banners flew. Dancers did their part to bring a sense of festivity to Occupy Wall Street’s New Year’s Eve celebration. Police and the City of New York had a different idea.
Although the Zuccotti Park is open 24 hours a day, around 1:30 in the morning on New Year’s Day, a police commander used a bull horn to announce that the park was closing until 9:00 AM. No explanation was given. Shortly thereafter, police announced the sidewalks are also closed and ordered protesters to cross Broadway.
With Zuccotti Park closed for an unknown reason and sidewalks around Zuccotti Park closed for the same unknown reason, the protesters marched north until they encountered a police blockade. Protesters claim they changed their route, doubling back, only to encounter another police blockade. This went on until the evening ended in arrests.
“We were trying to go to Tompkins Square Park,” Isham Christie quoted by New York Times (1)
It seems obvious that Mayor Bloomberg’s New Year’s resolution is not to let the Constitution and Bill of Rights much up his Plutonomy. We the people should make an even firmer resolution not to allow the Plutonomy to much up our democracy.