This piece written by Ben Ehrenreich looks at the push by city officials across the country to end the occupation movement, by evicting them from the parks.
Mayor Villaraigosa did us all a favor. His massive police raid on Occupy L.A. provided a few clarifications that will prove important as this movement moves forward, which it most certainly will. First, he could not have more powerfully confirmed Occupy’s critique of the corruption of our political system. It doesn’t matter if the mayor is a white, billionaire media mogul a la Bloomberg or a working-class Chicano with deep roots in the local labor movement. Oakland’s Jean Quan is a “progressive” Democrat. So is Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who unleashed riot police on Philly’s occupation just before the L.A. raid. (Forty-five minutes before cops swarmed the park, occupiers here were chanting, “Philly got raided, L.A. won’t take it!”) Race, class origins, longstanding political affiliations count for little. Party allegiance couldn’t be less relevant. Look at our president, at his wars, his bailouts, his complete silence on the repression of the Occupy movement. Proximity to power causes even the most stalwart progressives to suffer strange fits of amnesia and to develop violent allergies to all forms of popular democracy outside the conventional channels. If L.A. “charted a different path,” as the mayor put it, it is only because his cops crushed dissent more efficiently and elegantly than New York’s or Oakland’s, and without so many embarrassing YouTube videos. But they answer, as Villaraigosa does, to the same bosses.
Second, even the most refined manners will not be rewarded. For all of Occupy L.A.’s efforts to remain in the good graces of the police and the City Council, the camp here suffered the same fate as less courteous occupations elsewhere in the country: tents slashed and destroyed, the park fenced off, the more courageous and stubborn activists dragged away, cuffed with zip ties and bused out of sight. It doesn’t matter how many hoops you jump through, how many permits you apply for, how many health and safety inspections you undergo: they don’t want you here. They don’t want to see you, don’t want to hear your voice. Nationwide, the message has been as consistent as it has been clear: there is no room for genuine political protest in the United States. The First Amendment makes for excellent PR, but should you be fool enough to take it seriously, you will eventually find yourself staring at your own reflection in the face shield of a riot cop. Whether you ask for permission or not.