It took an old woman getting shoved down the steps at the DC Convention Center last Friday to get police in the nation’s capital to take some action against the increasingly violent Occupy movement. After a number of assaults and clashes with security last week during the AFP “Defending the American Dream” conference, the chief of police announced yesterday that Occupy DC was “no longer a peaceful protest“:
Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said Monday that her department is adjusting its tactics in response to Occupy D.C.’s “increasingly confrontational and violent” demonstrations, following the actions of other U.S. cities looking to evict — or at least crack down — on what officials are characterizing as unruly protesters.
The chief’s tough talk changed the tone of what had been about a month of congenial relations between protesters and authorities. It came after a Friday night incident in which several people attending a downtown event where the protesters were demonstrating were hurt.
“Five people that we are aware of were injured,” Chief Lanier said in a statement issued Monday. “That is no longer a peaceful protest.”
Chief Lanier’s statement also included links to videos that police say support their claims that the protesters are becoming more aggressive. In one video, protesters appear to use children to block an entrance.
Lanier declined to say what action the police will take with the Occupiers. One option might be actually showing up. The protesters blocked the exits at the Convention Center, a dangerous tactic that could have ended in disaster. Where was the fire marshal? Where were the police, who should have either moved the protest back to the sidewalks or started carting off people who refused to keep exits clear? It’s fine that the police now want to start taking some action, but what took place last week at the convention center should be investigated to determine whether the police deliberately ignored the violations, and if so, why.
Not all Occupy protests are exactly the same, of course. In New York, for example, the Occupy Wall Street crowd refuses to feed the homeless “freeloaders” who wander into their camp. In Boston, the Occupiers insist on eating the food intended for the homeless:
Occupy Boston has been encouraging protesters to take showers, hot meals and shelter meant for the homeless, prompting a St. Francis House manager to ask the downtown campers to remove directions from their Internet newspaper.
The online publication that calls itself “Occupy Boston Globe” posts meal times and shower hours at St. Francis House on Boylston Street, which runs on private donations and state and federal funding.
“We don’t want there to be a message to other people that we’re offering something different to them,” said St. Francis services director Andrea Ryan. She said she asked Occupy Boston to take the posting down, but because the shelter does not turn anyone away, Occupiers are free to use the shelter’s showers and meal lines.
Why do Occupiers want to take food from the mouths of the truly poor and downtrodden? Because, er … they can get away with it:
Andy Claude, in Occupy’s logistics tent, said he sees no problem with protestors using services intended for the city’s poor.
“It’s for anybody; they’ve opened it to anyone who is in need,” said Claude. …
But Robb Zarges, of the youth shelter Bridge Over Troubled Water, said, “There’s a difference between choosing to sleep somewhere, versus being kicked out of your home.”
Well, at least they’re not pushing old ladies down steps to get to the food. Yet. Meanwhile, Steven Crowder decided to go to Zuccotti Park to provide the Occupy Wall Street movement with what it lacks — a leader. He runs into a number of colorful characters, including the notorious Lotion Man, and discovers that no one there really has any idea what they want. Best moment: An Occupy vendor selling buttons tells Crowder, “Don’t make me guilty because you have no money.” Exactly.