U.S. mayors are trapped between a rock and a hard place by the Occupy Wall Street protests.
On the one hand, they have a vested interest in protecting the pay-to-play politics that got them elected as leaders of their local political machines. On the other, any visible crackdown feeds the energy for change churning out of the movement’s encampments.
No one has screwed up as visibly as Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. Her police force critically wounded Marine veteran Scott Olsen by shooting him in the head with a tear gas canister Oct. 25. Now Quan is trying to blame protesters for a fatal shooting that occurred near their encampment Nov. 10, which her own police have failed to tie to them. At this rate, it won’t be long before the Oakland protesters are being blamed for the assassination of JFK and the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa.
Oakland police began removing tents and protesters this morning, arresting 12 people at the City Hall encampment. Quan’s twisted logic is that the non-violent protesters are stripping police resources from other areas by exercising their freedoms of speech and assembly. Apparently, depriving your fellow Americans of those rights is a manpower intensive exercise for Quan.
“The risks are too great,” she said in a statement. “We need to return (these police) resources to addressing violence throughout the city.”
Meanwhile, police in Burlington, Vt., cited the suicide of a 35-year-old veteran as justification for shutting down the protests in their city. Never mind that dispirited veterans and active duty service members have been committing suicide in ever increasing numbers for the past 10 years. Apparently, military suicides only matter when they can be used for political gain.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been more sophisticated in his approach to the protesters that threaten the Wall Street gravy-train which has made him a billionaire. Instead of forcing them out, he’s deprived protesters of the generators they need to keep warm while sleeping in tents and under tarps in the frigid Northeast.
According to New York officials, it’s a hazard for the protesters to possess generators in the area around Zucotti Park. At the same time, it’s not a hazard for the dozens of satellite news trucks ringing the area to run their generators, or for the food vendors that pepper Lower Manhattan to use the generators and tap the volatile propane canisters that heat their grills.
Olsen, who served two tours in Iraq, was released from the hospital last week and is undergoing rehabilitation to recover the power of speech, which he lost after being hit.
“I’m feeling a lot better, with a long road in front of me,” Olsen, 24 wrote in a post on his Google Plus social networking site, per Reuters. “After my freedom of speech was quite literally taken from me, my speech is coming back but I’ve got a lot of work to do with rehab.”