Wednesday, Feb 8, 2012, 9:49 am
As The Left Bickers, Evictions Continue
This week, Bill Maher and Chris Hedges went to war with the black bloc, though Maher framed his attack against Occupy Wall Street more broadly. The tactics he seems to take issue with i.e. throwing chairs through a Starbucks window is behavior usually associated with individuals claiming to be part of black bloc action.
The discontentment with Occupy on the left appears to be growing. In an interview I did yesterday with The Young Turks, host Cenk Uygur expressed similar frustration with the movement that stubbornly refuses to engage within the political system.
Let me be clear: this aggrevation on the left is not new, but it seems prominent liberal players feel a renewed sense of confidence that they will not be booed mercilessly by their audiences if they take Occupy to task.
While the left joined the mainstream in a now almost five-month long bickerfest over protest tactics, Occupy Pittsburgh quietly closed shop, dismantled their tents, and removed the remaining fixtures of their encampment.
In instances in which the occupied parks are private, that challenge has fallen to the property owners. That was the case in Pittsburgh's Mellon Green park, which is owned by the Bank of New York Mellon Corp.
The bank posted an eviction notice in the park in December, two months after people began camping there round-the-clock on Oct. 15. The notice said that the use of generators, propane heaters and other equipment intended to keep campers warm as winter arrived created hazardous conditions in the park -- the same argument used by officials who have closed Occupy camps elsewhere, including in Manhattan and Philadelphia.After protesters ignored the bank's Dec. 11 deadline to leave, officials sued to get the protesters out, and a judge on Thursday upheld the eviction order and gave campers three days to vacate.
Fifty tents dwindled to fifteen and at least one Occupy Pittsburgh protester remained in Mellon Green on Tuesday morning. It remained unclear if anyone was in the last tents, though the Post-Gazette reported "signs of life," including the presence of a guitar, drum, bicycle, and tables.
Occupy Newark is also busy dealing with its own potential eviction. Tuesday night, the group posted an image of a document allegedly signed by the City Clerk, ordering protesters that they will be "required to remove all individuals and equipment from Military Park as of 9:00 P.M. beginning on Thursday, February 9, 2012."
The authenticity of the document has been called into question because the council was originally scheduled to make a decision on the group's extended stay on Feb. 16.
The 30 or so occupiers who have stayed in between 12 and 24 tents at the downtown park's south end since Nov. 18 have been allowed to stay largely on the Municipal Council's graces on a month-to-month basis.
The council allowed the demonstrators to stay in December, subject to a Jan. 7 renewal. A second renewal, which was not on the council's Feb. 1 meeting agenda, is projected to be on the Feb. 16 agenda.
Add Portland, Maine to the eviction list, a tent city that's among the longest-lived Occupy encampments in the country.
"Just because the occupation is changing form doesn't mean it's going away," Heather Curtis, one of the campers, said Monday before she started hauling away her belongings from snow-covered Lincoln Park.
As for Occupy Maine, protesters have already set up office space elsewhere in Portland and plan to get their message out to the public through other means.
"You can only fight for so long and you realize at the end that it's a new beginning," said Deese Hamilton, one of the four named plaintiffs in a lawsuit aiming to keep protesters in Lincoln Park. Hamilton was homeless before joining with the Occupy protesters.
Allison Kilkenny is an In These Times Staff Writer and the co-host of the critically acclaimed radio show Citizen Radio. Her blog for In These Times, Uprising, focuses on efforts around the world to address the global economic crisis.