Occupy Oakland protesters are struggling to distance themselves from masked vandals who hijacked a peaceful general strike this week by smashing windows, lighting fires, and clashing with police. "They are smearing our movement," said Raleigh Latham, a filmmaker who has covered the Occupy protests. While the anarchy-tinged violence certainly attracted media attention, will this kind of publicity cause the public to sour on the demonstrators?
The movement is at a crucial turning point: "The police should have exercised far more restraint" with protesters, says Megan McArdle at The Atlantic. But nothing the Occupiers have faced is "an excuse for rioting." If the demonstrators swear off violence, I'm all for letting them have their say even though I disagree with their politics. "However, if events continue to go in an Oakland direction, I'm going to become rather hostile to the movement. And I doubt that I'm the only one."
"What's the matter with Oakland?"
Occupy has worn out its welcome: The tide is unquestionably turning against the Occupy movement, says Charles C.W. Cooke at National Review. At first, the public turned a blind eye to the "nauseating spectacle" of the protesters' disrespect for authority and the lawlessness of their tent cities. But people are wising up, and realizing that the Occupiers are "simply playing games with the democratic process" in an effort to sabotage civil society, not fix it.
"Is the tide turning on OWS?"
But the public still likes the Occupiers' message: "Clashes with authorities" probably are giving more people an unfavorable impression of the protesters themselves, says Steve Kornacki at Salon. But polls show that most Americans still share the Occupy movement's anger about "income inequality, the influence of the super-wealthy, the need for meaningful Wall Street reform and so on." Dear Occupiers: You guys have changed the political debate and made "some Republicans in Congress nervous" — don't blow it by rioting.
"Is OWS in danger of losing Middle America?"
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