Monday, October 24, 2011

OWS Protesters at Zuccotti Park Showing Signs of Schism?

Over the weekend, there were quite a few reports of dissension among the ranks. There were questions about how much money was being donated and where it was going. In particular, some groups were independently raising money and then going to the OWS finance committee, but weren't getting funds in return commensurate with what they had raised or needed.

The oft-mentioned drummer groups that have caused quite the stir since the protests began over their incessant racket (though not always heard above the din across the street at the WTC complex), has raised quite a bit of money but haven't seen much in return. They had some of their equipment vandalized or stolen, and haven't gotten reimbursed for replacements.

The weather has definitely turned colder over the weekend, so whether the protesters occupation of Zuccotti Park is going to start wearing on those who are holding on to the idea of remaining through the winter.

I don't see the protests lasting through the winter at all. In fact, New York City policy about enabling the police department to take homeless people off the street and put them in shelters when temperatures drop to dangerous levels (below freezing) or during serious weather events (snowstorms). That will likely spell the end of the protests no matter how much money they claim will enable them to stay in the park indefinitely.

Also, as I had previously indicated, the NYPD is starting to claim that the overtime costs associated with the protests are going to affect crime fighting elsewhere in the City. The NYPD is claiming that they don't have the manpower or funding to target high crime areas as a result of the protests. I'm not sure I completely buy the argument with a police force as large as the NYPD, but it does mean that some manpower is being devoted to the protests that would otherwise be assigned elsewhere. Would that have a measurable effect on crime? It is possible.

As it is, no one really knows what it would take for the protests to end at the park because no one really knows what their end game is. Ask 10 people at the park, and you'd get 10 different answers although the general theme is about income inequalities and the growing chasm between rich and everyone else. That strikes a chord with many people who see how the rich are able to survive and thrive under the current economic turbulence, but those in the middle class are watching their limited funds wither as they fail to get the raises and income adjustments to compensate for increases in health care and other costs of living.

Politicians are also have a tough time trying to figure out the movement as compared to the Tea Party, which clearly marked the government as the source of the problem.

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