Analysis | The Mayor's Migraine: The Wall Street Protests

Monday, October 24, 2011

It is at times like this that Mayor Michael Bloomberg must be wondering, yet again, why it was that he wanted a third term.

The Occupy Wall Street protest is a headache for him. The world is watching and he is the man in charge of the city. If he antagonizes the protesters, he could wind up with a riot on his hands. If he lets them continue to protest, he looks weak and indecisive.

There is no simple solution, as the mayor said himself when he noted recently on his WOR radio show that "it's just not so easy; you can't just walk in and say, 'Hey, you're outta here.' " And even if the city did eject the protesters, he asked, where would they go then, since they do not appear inclined to head home. To Union Square? The Great Lawn in Central Park? The Sheep Meadow?

It is clear that Bloomberg is no fan of the goings on in Zuccotti Park, or of street protest in general. He is, above all, a pragmatist. Get things done, don't just talk about or complain — that has always been his attitude. Civil liberties do not rate high with him when they bump up against practicalities.

For instance, he defends the police department's stop and frisk policy: it is a deterrent to crime, and it works, he argues. and he makes no apologies for the often-criticized police actions at the Republican Convention in 2004. The city's job was to keep order, and anyone who protested at the convention should have realized that arrest was possible. Don't like surveillance cameras taking photos on street corners? Get over it — they work, he says.

Bloomberg was never a march-in-the streets type — whatever his political attitudes toward the underlying issue. He did not march during the civil rights movement or against the Vietnam War. Action — getting things accomplished — has always been his goal and he is not inclined to believe in the efficacy of public protests or flower power.

In this case, he clearly empathizes with the people who live and work near Zuccotti Park and have had enough of the mess, the noise and the disruption.

The Occupy Wall Street protesters live in an alternate universe, which leaves the mayor where no leader wants to be: looking for a way to resolve a very volatile situation that is playing out in the public eye. Maybe he will be lucky and nature — the approach of a New York winter — will help the mayor out.


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Comments [4]

Mike Bloomberg is the elected mayor of NYC. It's his JOB to protect and defend the citizens' civil liberties, no matter what his personal feelings and failings may be.

Oct. 24 2011 06:17 PM
Robert Matlock from Staten Island

Bloomberg's and the NYPD's handling of the Occupy Wall Street Protests has been deplorable. He clearly wants to shut the protest down. WNYC has not done enough to cover the actions of the NYPD to stifle this protest. I have been to Zuccotti park. If you try and stop and read the protestor's signs, the NYPD moves you along because of a supposed "safety issue", a ruse they are using. You can no longer walk on the street in front of the Stock Exchange because NYPD has it all cordoned off. Why? Whose interests, other than Wall Street's does that serve?

NYPD is complaining about all the extra overtime they are having to pay. The protests are peaceful.The huge police presence which is meant, I believe, to intimidate the protestors is unwarranted and I am not interested in paying taxes to cover the costs.

WNYC could do more to cover the actions of police. Demonstrators harassed by mounted police 15 Oct., a protester run over by a police motorcycle. Protesters pepper sprayed by Anthony Bologna. Another protester beaten with a billy club shown in videotape on youtube. Protesters arrested in Citibank simply for CLOSING THEIR ACCOUNTS.

Writer Naomi Wolf was arrested without her haven broken any laws. All she did was stand on a sidewalk. On Keith Olberman she reported that NYPD told her that if she was arrested for protesting again, her name would be put into a federal database that would follow her for the rest of her life. Wolf also said that Homeland Security personnel had cordoned off streets at the police precinct where she was supposed to be taken (the one with jurisdiction over the location where she was arrested) and would not let lawyers in that had come to her aid. While this was happening, Wolf was secretly sent to another police precinct and thus, no one knew where she was for a time. That is frightening.

Why do I have to go to Keith Olberman to hear this, why wasn't it on WNYC!

Oct. 24 2011 05:33 PM
Roy Henderson from Whitleyville

The sanctimonious manner in which WYNC reports the honorable Bloomberg's attitude and consideration of "occupy wall street" is rather objectionable. Hardly the way one would expect even has come to be expected in the United States...journalistic efforts.

Oct. 24 2011 05:11 PM

Okay, so the article claims that "It is clear that Bloomberg is no fan of the goings on in Zuccotti Park, or of street protest in general. He is, above all, a pragmatist. Get things done, don't just talk about or complain — that has always been his attitude. Civil liberties do not rate high with him when they bump up against practicalities." He's a billionaire, businessman and a politician in the ranks of the 1%. He's not expected to be a fan of the protest nor identify himself with Occupy Wall Street's message. Mayor Bloomberg, is not a John F. Kennedy nor a Robert F. Kennedy, who were a helping hand when Americans were struggling and hurting. So, he hears the protestors voices, sees their signs and after a day at City Hall, retreats to his mansion on the Upper Eastside at East 79th Street and Fifth Avenue.

Oct. 24 2011 05:02 PM

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