Mayor Bloomberg has asked police officers to remove Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park, which has been their New York City encampment since mid-September. Nearly 200 people were arrested during the operation, which the mayor ordered so that the park could be cleaned up.Since protesters hadn’t let anyone approach the park with a hose and water in weeks, it was in desperate need of a clean-up. There has been talk of diseases rapidly spreading, even of one locally known as ‘Occupy Wall Street Lung.”
Which brings us to the first point protesters should heed: no one will take you seriously unless you clean up. After all, you wouldn’t go to a job interview without showering and making an effort with your appearance, would you? And isn’t that one of the points protesters are angry about, The lack of jobs? Well here’s news: it might be fun to play drums and camp out for weeks, but if you want to get your point across you’ve got to look like you really want a job, and aren't just happy to hang out with your friends and get angry at the nasty tactics of the police who want to boot you out. Understandably, residents who live near Zuccotti Park breathed a collective sigh of relief when the police moved in. They can’t be blamed. No matter how much good will they initially showed protesters, no one wants to see their neighborhood turned into a dirty tent city. At least not in New York City.
Secondly, protesters need to realize that freedom of speech doesn’t just apply to them. Bloomberg noted that by closing the park he wanted to return the site to ‘regular people’ who have a right to enjoy it too, alongside the protesters. Well, fair enough. Protesters can’t expect to enjoy their own freedom of speech while restricting the movement of others who aren’t joining in the protest.
Which brings us to the last point: It has been over two months since the Occupy Wall Street protest took off. How can the movement still not have a leader? It desperately needs someone to voice their opposition to Wall Street in a much clearer manner so that Wall Street, the government and the public can actually understand what it is they are protesting against, and finally take them seriously. They also need to be able to act as a unified voice that can speak in a level-headed manner to the police and other authorities.
Still, this is unlikely to mark the end of the Occupy Wall Street movement. At least not yet. As of Tuesday morning, lawyers for the protesters obtained a temporary restraining order barring the city and the park’s private landlord from evicting protesters or removing their belongings. Justice Lucy Billings of State Supreme Court in Manhattan, scheduled a hearing for Tuesday. Protesters are now looking to take over other buildings or parks.
If only they could get their act together, they are plenty of reasons to continue their protest. Millions are still unemployed, and little has changed on Wall Street and Main Street since the 2008 financial meltdown.
So here's some advice for the protesters: go home, at least for today, have a good shower, put the drums away, elect a leader, and come back with a list of specific points you want to make. And don’t run away when the first big snowstorm hits the City.