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New Media and Social Movements
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A Former MENA Peace Corps Director & AUC Professor
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Chair of the Communications and New Media Program at the National University of Singapore
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OWS Government Response
This document is a subsection of
New Media and Social Movements
Occupy Wall Street
OWS Digital landscape
OWS Social Media Trends
OWS Outcomes to Date
Occupy Wall Street: Government Response
Occupy Wall Street has received mixed support on a citywide and national level. Many support the movement, starting that this viewpoint is critical in this time of political and economic corruption. Others point to a mob-like of the protesters, and think the protests are not effective in making a change in the system. OWS continues to grow in strength worldwide and this growth has been
accompanied by reports of police brutality. OWS is ongoing and therefore the reactions in this section are current as of November 8th, 2011.
New York City
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has expressed support for the protestors, allowing Occupy Wall Street to continue, but has expressed personal sentiments that although "[t]here are some people with legitimate complaints, there are some people who just like to protest."
As the movement began, Bloomberg stated in a press conference, “People have a right to protest, and if they want to protest, we'll be happy to make sure they have locations to do it." Since this point, Bloomberg has expressed mixed sentiments revolving around the lack of productivity of the protests. On October 12th, Bloomberg announced that Zuccotti Park needed to be cleaned by the city, and mandated that the protestors leave within two days. OWS protestors refused to leave, noting that this was a tactic to end the movement, and instead began cleaning the park themselves. On October 14th, Bloomberg backed down, and stated that the protestors were allowed to stay.
On November 15th, Mayor Bloomberg ordered the eviction of protestors from Zuccotti park, stating this this decision was his alone, "For two months they have been allowed to use sleeping bags and tents. Now they will have to use the power of their arguments."
The police tactics used by New York City have been controversial, including 2 pepper spraying incidents and hundreds of arr
ests. Police are accused of using excessive force and pepper spray. The tactic of netting is a main strategy.
The NYPD has assigned the community relations detective Rick Lee to Occupy Wall Street to advise the group on avoiding arrests and getting along with officers, as well as, advising the Police Department of the OWS protest plans. Lee is a plain clothed cop, commonly referred to as the “hipster cop”.he group by penning people in with orange netting.
As of October 27th, the Police Department had spent over $5 million in overtime due to OWS.
: More than 80 protestors are arrested on a march to Union Square. A YouTube video captured Police Officer Anthony Bologna of pepper spraying penned-in female protestors. Following a public outcry around the video, Bolonga was docked 10 vacation days and reassigned posts.
: Over 700 arrests are made during a march across the Brooklyn Bridge. The NYPD stated that they warned the demonstrators to stay out of the traffic lanes and keep on the pedestrian walkway, and took action arresting the people that traffic. Several protestors reported that they had felt police support of the march, up until the officers started the mass arrests.
: In a day of solidarity, many Unions and students joined the movement, growing the movement to 15,000 individuals. Although daytime protests were peaceful, the night brought a call to “storm the barricades” blocking Wall Street, and the NYPD responded with pepper spray.
: A call for worldwide protests resulted in 900 rallies. Although most of these were peaceful, several hundred protesters were arrested throughout the country. Protests in Rome turned violent as mobs set fires and destroyed large parts of the city.
: In the early morning, Occupy Oakland is raided and closed by the police and 102 people are arrested. That afternoon protesters marched on the streets and clashed with police officers. Marchers hurled stones and bottles and the police responded with tear gas.
Following Bloomberg's orders to evict OWS, the police delivered notices a little after midnight to the protestors. At 1 a.m. the police began clearing the area, arresting around 200 people. Reporters were bared from entering the park and in some cases arrested.
The President and Vice-President have expressed their support for the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Both compared the protesters to the Tea Party noting that these were the new voices of the middle class, a group that no longer feels the support of their government. At a press conference on October 6th, President Obama stated, "I think it expresses the frustrations the American people feel, that we had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge collateral damage all throughout the country ... and yet you're still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on the abusive practices that got us into this in the first place."
The Occupy Wall Street movement has been met by mixed reviews in Congress. Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic Leader Representative, expressed her support of the movement, noting her mutual dissatisfaction with Congress. The Democratic co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus voiced that they stood with the movement. The House Majority Leader, Republican Eric Cantor described OWS as “growing mobs” and blamed the movement on Obama’s failed policies which are responsible for Americans turning on themselves.
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