Written by: Katherine Scheidt
I received at text message at 1:09am on November 15th informing me that Occupy Wall Street was being raided by the NYPD. My response was simply “Why?”
Around 1 am, police began a raid on Zuccoti Park, ordering protesters to gather their belongings and leave. Activists were told that they could return after the park was cleaned, but without tents, sleeping bags and other tools necessary to the movement.
A timeline from the Occupy wall street website details the raid in shocking detail:
Understandably, the Occupy Wall Street movement has started to take it’s toll on New York City and Zuccoti Park.
Mayor Bloomberg cited health and fire hazards as reasons for the raid, and took full responsibility for the raid stating, “Make no mistake — the final decision to act was mine.” Bloomberg’s concerns are legitimate, but was the execution of the raid really appropriate?
Protesters were arrested, sprayed with pepper spray and reportedly tear gassed. During the raid shouts of “No Violence,” “This is what a police state looks like,” and “Shame on you” were heard.
Questions to ask:
Why did NYC feel the need to start the raid at 1 am?
Why were journalists kept blocks away?
Why was it necessary for police to come in full riot gear?
I feel like the necessary clearing of the park could have been done in a more peaceful way. If a peaceful order to evict was given, many protesters would have relocated without a struggle. It doesn’t seem necessary to go in with intent to use force.
It’s nearly impossible to avoid drawing parallels between the violence against protesters in the 1960’s and this morning’s raid. Although the amount of violence does not compare, police force was still used against peaceful protesters trying to speak out against the system.
Even now that a judge has ruled to allow protesters and their tents back into the park, the future of the Occupy Wall Street movement is still uncertain. We will see if protesters continue their physical occupation or if the movement evolves into rhetoric rather than tents and sleeping bags.
Morale remains high as protesters cheer “We are unstoppable, another world is possible.” I’m hopeful that despite the violence, these cheers prove true.