After a week of harsh police crackdowns and evictions from Occupy camps in cities across the U.S., the Occupy movement took to the streets Thursday for a "Day of Action." Police showed up, too, arresting about 300 demonstrators in New York City and hundreds more in sister protests nationwide. The day of marches, demonstrations, and occasional celebrity sightings marked Occupy Wall Street's two-month anniversary. Who ended the day looking better, and who ended up looking bad? Here, a brief rundown:
"It turns out that Occupy Wall Street is not too big to fail," says Jacob Laskin at FrontPage. The lefty protesters' signature stunt failed "when police easily repelled them" from shutting down Wall Street or silencing the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange. Yes, the 1 percenters can rest easy, says Kirsten Boyd Johnson at Wonkette. Their police force is now arresting people for "the crime of making it slightly more difficult for Wall Street employees to get to work."
Occupy Wall Street
Sure, the New York protesters weren't able to "occupy Wall Street in a literal sense," but the "Day of Action" was still a rousing success, says Eugene Robinson at The Washington Post. Journalists and tourists came en masse to gawk at the standoff, and it's obvious that the movement's powerful central idea — that the system is stacked in favor of the super-wealthy — is gaining traction. For the first time in decades, we're having a national conversation about inequality. So whether or not they get back into Zuccotti Park, Occupiers have already "done something more important: They've gotten into people's heads."
As thousands of protesters crossed the Brooklyn Bridge Thursday night, someone projected "'99%' and a beautiful series of statements on the side of the Verizon building" in lower Manhattan, says Xeni Jardin at BoingBoing. It was "like the bat-signal." Starting with the ubiquitous Occupy phrase "Mic check," the "stop-motion manifesto and poem" continued in short flashes of inspiring verse. "It is the most beautiful work of art, even viewed over a poor-quality web video stream."
Judging by the massive turnout Thursday, "Mayor Bloomberg's apparent plan to squash the Occupy Wall Street movement by evicting protesters from Zuccotti Park earlier this week only added fuel to the fire," says BoingBoing's Jardin. Indeed, "Bloomberg's bum rush" of Occupy's original home re-energized the tired movement, "gave them a common enemy," and renewed public sympathies, says David Weidner at The Wall Street Journal. And "if Bloomberg's extreme action was good for OWS, it was not the best thing for the city," says Philip Gourevitch at The New Yorker. A mayor who shuts down the press at will and unleashes the cops to "manhandle the citizenry" with impunity is bad for everyone.
Plans to "occupy" New York City's subway system didn't result in any major delays, but several dozen protesters were arrested for blocking traffic across major bridges and roads in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago, Portland, and Los Angeles — during rush hour. It was infuriating to watch as this "bolshevik mob… shut down many streets and caused traffic nightmares for ordinary people trying to get to and from work," says Robert Stacy McCain at The Other McCain. "I continue to be amazed at the restraint shown by the NYPD in not giving these hippie punks the kind of brutality they deserve."
It's hard to see how the "extraordinary trust, sympathy, and power" New Yorkers have given their police department since 9/11 will survive the "shocking and apparently gratuitous violence" the NYPD is using on nonviolent protesters, says The New Yorker's Gourevitch. Indeed, says Mike Riggs at Reason. White Occupiers are "getting the crap kicked out of them by cops at Occupy protests across the country." That's causing a "much needed paradigm shift." These "skinny intellectuals" were probably "indifferent to fond" of the cops before. Now, they'll start seeing "police militarization and the unchecked power of the state" for the danger it really is.
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