By Michael Wurl
THE DEBACLE THAT IS 'OCCUPY WALL STREET'
"If I can take it there
I'll take it anywhere
I'll dump on you
NewYork, New York!"
The term 'squatter' used to refer to a person who occupied an area of land that they did not own. This would certainly be an applicable term for those involved in the Occupy Wall Street protests. Recent events have added a whole new level to the definition as it applies to the group.
In the photo above, a protester is caught on camera in the act of defecating
outside, in public, on a New York city police vehicle.
I can only speak for myself, but...I don't think this is the kind of behavior that will help most of America to be sympathetic to their cause or earn respect for their position.
Aside from the obviously crude and filthy behavior depicted above,
there are legitimate health and safety concerns developing as each day goes by.
Although many of the protesters are understood to be making strenuous efforts to clean up after themselves, after three weeks of occupation, the strain of hundreds of people living on the street has begun to take its toll.
Brookfield Office Properties, which owns Zuccotti Park, the site of the New York demonstration, have already railed against protesters, who they claim are creating sanitation problems.
"Sanitation is a growing concern," Brookfield said in a statement.
"Normally the park is cleaned and inspected every week night...because the protesters refuse to cooperate...the park has not been cleaned since Friday, September 16th and as a result, sanitary conditions have reached unacceptable levels," CBS News reported.
Unsanitary conditions prompted New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to order the park closed in stages on Friday for a cleanup. Bloomberg says the city is trying to protect the rights of protesters, as well as the rights of people who live and work in the area.
The protesters, who have camped out in a city park for more than three weeks, will be forced out Friday so that city crews can help clean the area.
“After it’s cleaned, they’ll be able to come back. But they won’t be able to bring back the gear, the sleeping bags, that sort of thing will not be able to be brought back into the park," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters.
Brookfield Properties, the owner of the park, gave the protesters notice on Thursday that it will begin enforcing park regulations, which prohibit everything from lying down on benches to leaving personal property on the ground.
Park regulations on the notice includes no tents, tarps or sleeping bags on the ground, no lying on benches and no personal property stored on the ground. All these practices have been common at the park, where protesters have lived, slept and eaten for nearly a month.
"They're going to use the cleanup to get us out of here!" said Justin Wedes, 25, a part-time public high school science teacher from Brooklyn. "It's a de facto eviction notice."
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan on Wednesday evening and made the cleaning announcement, citing sanitation concerns from the park’s owner, MyFoxNY.com reports.
Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway said in a statement Wednesday that,“The Mayor is a strong believer in the First Amendment and believes that the protesters have a right to continue to protest. At the same time, the last three weeks have created unsanitary conditions and considerable wear and tear on the park. This situation is not in the best interests of the protesters, residents or the City."
Some protesters questioned the need to clean the park in the first place.
"This is the cleanest protest I've ever witnessed," said Emilio Montilla, 29, a laid-off teacher's assistant. "We take care of ourselves. We're self-sufficient."
But Brookfield told police that it had received “hundreds of phone calls and emails” from locals complaining about "lewdness, groping, drinking and drug use, the lack of safe access to and usage of the Park, ongoing noise at all hours, unsanitary conditions and offensive odors,” NBC New York reports.
Stacey Tzortzas, the owner of Panini Company Café, said the protest is driving away her regulars. That business dropped 30 percent, and there are more basic problems.
"Protesters come in demanding to use the facilities to bathe. They spend hours in there just bathing. They destroyed the bathrooms," said Tzortzas.
The Occupy Wall Street protest has not actually occupied the street that is synonymous with American finance, but rather Zuccotti Park several blocks away. The area's small business owners and residents feel under siege. Virtually constant drumming from mid-morning until late at night, for nearly a month now. Neighbors are not pleased. Steven Abramson is among them.
“There are families in this building with young children,' he said. "There are some older people who live here as well that would like some peace and quiet.”
The lobby of Steven Abramson’s apartment building is pungent with the smell of disinfectant to disguise the stench of urine outside. He says some protesters relieve themselves in the area at night. The problem - no portable toilets at the park.
In addition to sanitation concerns at the park, the NYPD has spent over $2 million in overtime to keep cops stationed at the protests, according to a public statement by Commissioner Ray Kelly made last week.
Han Shan, 39, of New York, a spokesman for Occupy Wall Street, said it was clear to everyone that the plan is to shut down the protest.
"There is a strong commitment to nonviolence, but I know people are going to vigorously resist eviction," he said. "I think we're going to see a huge number of supporters throughout New York and the surrounding area defend this thing ... I'm hoping that cooler heads will prevail, but I'm not holding my breath."
Some protesters said they would resist; others planned to cooperate but engage in nonviolent civil disobedience if they were not allowed back in the park.
Asked if it had or would file a lawsuit, Brookfield offered no comment, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg is riding the fence.
"If the protesters, however, leave Zuccotti Park, the question is will they disband or go someplace else. From a practical point of view, I think we want to let some of this, not play out is quite the right word, but let them express themselves," said Bloomberg.
Protesters said they're staying. Opponents, if they want them to leave, may have to wait until winter to freeze them out. That’s not about to happen, though, as pleasant weather is expected all weekend long.