Opinion Brief

Does Occupy Wall Street have a homeless problem?

The free food, shelter, and medical care at Occupy encampments nationwide are attracting some Occupiers who couldn't care less about Wall Street

The protesters at Occupy camps across the U.S. are dealing with an occupation of their own: The increasing number of homeless people who are joining the demonstrations, more often than not for the free food, company, and protection from the police. The Occupy protesters are in a quandary, unable to kick the homeless interlopers out of public parks, and often uninterested in doing so, but struggling to keep the protest on message and safe from the violence, mental illness, and substance abuse that some of the homeless people bring with them. What should Occupy Wall Street and its offshoots do about the destitute 99 percenters in their midst?

The movement should welcome homeless Occupiers: The homeless are the "real permanent occupation protests against inequality," says Glenn Wright at Examiner. No wonder they are increasingly "recognizing that they have every right" to join the Occupiers. Sure, the intrusion is annoying some protesters, but many more understand that wanting a free meal hardly disqualifies you from "making a valid protest against economic inequality.""Homeless occupation has been the permanent protest..."

Hopefully, this will teach Occupiers a lesson: Check out the burgeoning Occupy Wall Street "police state" in Zuccotti Park, says Howard Portnoy at Hot Air. "Our noble protesters" are forming security details to eject the moochers spoiling their Lower Manhattan "neo-paradise." Similarly, "the people who actually live in the community surrounding Zuccotti Park" want the cops to eject the OWS "squatters" and their cowbells and drum circles. If Occupiers can't accept their own occupation, they should "fold up their tents and go back to their real lives.""OWS to impose police state on Zuccotti Park"

OWS doesn't have a homeless problem. It has a police problem: Reportedly, the cops are cynically sending drunks and other "unruly, aggressive, perhaps mentally ill types" they pick up across the city down to Zuccotti Park, both to sabotage OWS and provide a pretext for crackdowns, says David Dayen at Firedoglake. If the NYPD stops, so does Occupy's homeless problem."NYC law enforcement moving aggressive park dwellers in..."

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