In the wee hours of the morning New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had the police clear out Zuccotti Park. As far as the right to protest goes, I couldn't say it better than Paul Ryan did a few weeks ago:
I don’t disparage anybody who wants to air their grievances, petition their government. As long as nobody gets hurt, and as long no property is destroyed, I think it’s fine people demonstrate to organize themselves. I’m not exactly sure what it is they’re calling for, but if there’s frustration aimed at crony capitalism, corporate welfare, at bailing out connected corporations, I agree with them. We shouldn’t have any more Solyndras, we shouldn’t be picking winners and losers with federal tax dollars by subsidizing, regulating or tax loopholing people with preferences. Let’s get rid of all of that.
Now, where Occupy Wall Street has gone astray is, in fact, with people getting hurt and property getting destroyed. There are also public health concerns. During my trip to Occupy DC, the stench was problematic. Considering how few occupants each of these tent cities have, the public health problems were significant.
But what do we think about the manner in which the police cleared out Zuccotti Park? What do we think about how well the rule of law is being followed?
One thing that seriously concerns me is that every reporter down there last night claims that they were not allowed to see what was going on by the police. Mayor Bloomberg has said that he removed the press for their own safety (that's not how it works, Mayor Mike!).
Because of the lack of press presence, there's no way to confirm reports of police brutality last night during the clean out and arrest of a couple hundred protesters. Obviously police violence would be another concern.
Moving onto later this morning, a very liberal (a parody of herself, as John Podhoretz notes) judge ordered protesters back in to the park, saying their tents were totally allowed. Rather than comply with the order, Bloomberg simply shut the park down. That concerns me.
During a press conference this morning, Bloomberg said that all those who re-enter the park would be searched. That doesn't sound right, given the 4th Amendment and all.
And if we have overreaching police and mayors handle whatever legitimate problems arise out of the Occupy protests, this is bad for two reasons. One is that they will lose key legal and political battles that may be important for resolving problems caused by the Occupy movement. The other is that this sets a bad precedent for future political protests. Protests that may actually have a point or value.
I always try to consider government action against people in terms of how I would feel if they were going after movements I agree with. What do you think about how the police and mayor's office have handled things?