In what may have been a move coordinated with several other American cities, the New York City Police Department cleared Zuccotti Park late last night at Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s orders. There have been approximately 200 arrests, including of a few journalists, both at Zuccotti and in a space nearby on Canal Street to which many protesters went following the raid. The future status of the park and the occupation is currently in the court system. The police also confiscated the nearly 6,000-volume People’s Library (the one with tomes by Alan Dershowitz, Leo Strauss, and, indeed, Michael Bloomberg); it seems likely a report that a Torah was destroyed is inaccurate, and instead it’s a Tanakh that was.
Not to go all fashionably counterintuitive, but Ezra Klein’s early take is compelling:
The occupation of Zuccotti Park was always going to have a tough time enduring for much longer. As the initial excitement wore off and the cold crept in, only the diehards—and those with no place else to go—were likely to remain. The numbers in Zuccotti Park would thin, and so too would the media coverage. And in the event someone died of hypothermia, or there was some other disaster, that coverage could turn. What once looked like a powerful protest could come to be seen as a dangerous frivolity.
In aggressively clearing them from the park, Bloomberg spared them that fate. Zuccotti Park wasn’t emptied by weather, or the insufficient commitment of protesters. It was cleared by pepper spray and tear gas. It was cleared by police and authority. It was cleared by a billionaire mayor from Wall Street and a request by one of America’s largest commercial real estate developers. It was cleared, in other words, in a way that will temporarily reinvigorate the protesters and give Occupy Wall Street the best possible chance to become whatever it will become next.
Any ideas on what that should be?
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.