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Blocked From Raid, The Media Await A Next Act

Posted by: Mark Gimein on November 15, 2011 at 7:26 PM


“Those who were arrested wanted to be arrested,” New York City’s police commissioner told reporters after today’s police raid on Zuccotti park. It’s hard to know if this is really true: according to the New York Times’ Media Decoder, reporters were herded out of the park, and several of those who stayed were swept up together with demonstrators (probably they didn’t count among those who “wanted to be arrested”).

That the media would be moved aside as the encampment was getting dismantled fits with the story so far. For the Occupy movement Zuccotti Park is a theater in which a performance was put on for the benefit of the media. When a performance ends, a curtain gets drawn over the ruckus on the stage.

A flood of crime and the danger of violence were the city’s justification for clearing the park. The city told the court:

What was before a park with little to no crime has seen approximately 73 misdemeanor and felony complaints and approximately 50 arrests since the occupy movement began, and people who have a known history of violent interactions with the police have been observed in and around the Park.

As a explanation of why the protesters had to be evicted, this is transparently false. It’s disingenuous to cite 73 misdemeanor and felony complaints when those complaints are themselves the product of the police interaction with protesters. The city also claimed in its brief that Zuccotti Park might have “makeshift items that could be used as weapons.” As yet, the weapons in Zuccotti Park haven’t turned up.

This isn’t really a suprise. In actual fact, Zuccotti Park had settled into efficient routine. Just two nights ago, police with no riot gear (some in fact wearing Community Affairs jackets) chatted amicably with protesters.

What was really at issue was that as far as the city was concerned, Zuccotti Park was an eyesore. The threat that it increasingly posed was not to the banks, or to the capitalist system, but to civic decorum.

Zuccotti Park was turning into a long running play, and those are never as good as they are on opening night. What is being billed around the world as a grand battle between the forces of capitalism and those of people power was instead turning into a much duller contest, between a city wanting to keep the streets swept and protesters trying to stay in the view of the cameras.

With Judge Michael Stallman upholding the city’s eviction of the protesters, one act of this play seems to be over. At this point, the New York City protests can really go either way. The police may have shut down the show. Or they may just have extended its run. What comes next depends in part on how able the protesters are to find a new and more mobile venue—and in part on the media’s stomach for pushing in where they are not wanted.

Update: Looking over it, it struck me that this post could be read as a criticism of the journalists at Zuccotti Park. Far from it. They were there, I was not, and many of them did their work under trying circumstances. The willingness of journalists on the scene to go to the story is not really in question. What is worth watching for is whether police pressure on the press will heighten the sense of urgency at media organizations, or make them reluctant to devote their resources to a difficult story.

Photographer: Peter Foley, Bloomberg

Reader Comments


November 15, 2011 8:15 PM

The actions today by New York official violated nearly every freedom our Founding Fathers entrusted Americans with. This is a shameful and sad day for our country. Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly are being denied to these protesters. Freedom of Press was even muffled in the early hours of the morning as no reporters or even lawyers for the movement were allowed near the raids. Despite all of this and the abuse endured from Fascist Police Forces country wide, the movement continues even this evening in NYC. Stand tall and voice your opinions with the Occupy group. You can learn more, see political art and get informed at

jaw crusher

November 15, 2011 8:44 PM

Those who were arrested wanted to be arrested


November 15, 2011 8:54 PM

What is denied one group is soon denied to all. This is a common cause, and is not over.


November 15, 2011 9:03 PM

I work in LA downtown area. I pass through LA occupy camp. I have noticed that folks there have no regard for common public. In many occasions a bunch of hooligans will be playing football with no regards to the passersby. Couple times those guys almost run over my coworkers who were walking with me. I wouldn't be surprised if the situation is much worse in New York, given that the camping there is lot bigger than here in LA. I support NY police on this. I might be dumb but I don't understand what kind of a solution this movement is trying to provide. I am frustrated too that our system is broken but I don't understand how whining about it without any proper goal or focus could possibly help.


November 15, 2011 11:54 PM

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.


November 16, 2011 2:06 PM

"As a explanation of why the protesters had to be evicted, this is transparently false. It’s disingenuous to cite 73 misdemeanor and felony complaints when those complaints are themselves the product of the police interaction with protesters."

Really? So the sexual assaults in Zuccotti park were perpetrated by cops? So the damage done to local businesses were done by cops?



November 16, 2011 2:07 PM

Theo. Enough with your mellow drama. The idiots form the park have not been black bagged. In fact, a judge ruled that they can protest but they cannot erect tents.

How exactly is that someone "coming" for them?

Disingenuous little troll.

john dahodi

November 17, 2011 4:23 PM

The best way out for the occupy wall street protesters is to organize the movement using following steps: (i)Should have central organization with at least 20 office bearers of good standing and clean honest career including President Carter, George Sorros, Buffet and so on; (ii) Divide the groups based on their grievances like homeless, mortgage foreclosures, unemployed, medical issues, graduates unemployed, unemployed... due to outsource, large bank greediness, stock market greediness, political corruption, lobbies terrors, capitalists greediness; millionaires greediness and so many others (iii) each specified group should be directed to join hands together and stage demonstration during the working hours at location of their head offices through out America on daily basis. The protesters can meet at the central place but divide in groups to demonstrate at different locations peacefully keeping good manner and following rules and regulation using non-violence means distributing and shouting meaningful slogans and hand over write-up to the media, press and who ever is visiting these buildings. Unless the movement is planed and projected in a organized way, nothing will happen. The 1% interested party is waiting for the early demise of the movement. They think it is almost at the last stage and burial is closer than they thought.

Kenn Space

November 17, 2011 6:06 PM

President Obama said; "Failure is not an option". I agree with him except he failed to complete that sentence, I say; Failure is not an option, failure is a given".

Capitalize On This Occupation

Too big to fail;

Is failing.

Too big to fail;

Is not success.

Too big to fail;

is a failure literalized.

Ahmos Zu Bolton

November 21, 2011 12:26 AM

There is no such thing as justice - in or out of court.

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"The Wealth Debate" is a running discussion of wealth, poverty, the economy and income inequality in the U.S. and the world. It was started shortly after the Occupy Wall Street movement sparked a global protest about the fallout from the financial crisis and money in politics. You can reach the editors, Dan Beucke and Mark Gimein, by email, or follow BloombergNow on Twitter to keep up with posts.

Analyses or commentary in this blog are the views of the author and or commentators, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloomberg News.

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