Occupiers, time to quit while you’re ahead — for you’re a little less ahead with every confrontation involving police or other civic authorities. The skirmishes provide unflattering visuals for the ordinary folks at home, even those sharing your angst and anger over the financial-industry takeover of our economy. It doesn’t matter who was at fault. It doesn’t matter whether or not you have the right to pitch tents on public parks…

Occupy Wall Street and its allies should understand that they entered the fray with the Silent Majority on their side. (Seven in 10 said Republicans in Congress favor the rich, according to the Times/CBS poll.) Thus, they must treat the neighbors with utmost respect. One problem with demonstrations lasting weeks is that they tend to take over and degrade public spaces. Squares in front of city halls. Parks where people throw Frisbees. Plazas people cross to do their business.

We know that responsible Occupy leaders have done their best to keep things peaceful and clean, but tent cities that draw crowds have a way of frustrating the best intentions. The most careful campers can’t avoid trampling the grass. For those living or working near these tent cities, the novelty is gone and fatigue setting in, especially as a less mannerly crowd joins the protestors.