Early this morning starting around 1:00 AM, police in riot gear raided Zuccotti Park in New York, home of Occupy Wall Street and forcibly removed protesters sleeping in tents. Dozens of arrests were made of those who refused to leave. Sanitation workers came and dumped belongings into trucks and cleaning crews from the owner of the park, Brookfield Properties followed using power washers. Protesters who left the area vowed to meet up later this morning in nearby Foley Square to plan their next move.
Earlier on Monday police closed down the Occupy Oakland encampment saying nobody will be allowed to sleep there anymore. Some 33 protesters were arrested there. Later in the day protesters returned to Frank Ogawa Plaza, the site of the encampment and held a rally and a march.
One would think the Mayors and police chiefs in the two cities were in close collaboration, keeping tabs on each other and seeing what methods and procedures their counterparts were using in order to shut down the encampments within their respective cities. In both instances, health, safety and fire hazards were the primary excuses used to justify the dismantling of the encampments.
What all these authorities fail to understand, whether in Oakland, New York, earlier in Denver, Boston, Atlanta et al is their actions only serve to galvanize the protesters resolve to continue their protests. The occupy movement is committed to non-violence and is based on ideas, problems and issues which can't be destroyed by dismantling their encampments.
These tactics only make the movement stronger, gain more adherents and cast a greater light of shame on the authorities for rousting and arresting peaceful protesters.
To Mayors Quan in Oakland and Bloomberg in New York (and all other mayors considering similar methods in their jurisdictions) your strong arm tactics against the occupy movement in your cities are backfiring and will have and opposite effect than the one you intend.