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Showdown at Zuccotti Park

Movement enters new phase

Published Nov 16, 2011 10:14 PM

Nov. 15 — As the political character of Occupy Wall Street has grown sharper, with its movement increasingly targeting foreclosures and union-busting, the ruling class made a decision: Cut off the movement at the head.

After Occupy encampments in Portland, Denver, and Oakland were shut down, New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered the New York Police Department to clear out Zuccotti Park — the site of Occupy Wall Street, which since Sept. 17 has spawned a worldwide movement against the ravages of capitalism. Police in riot gear went into Zuccotti Park at 1 a.m. on Nov. 15 and violently evicted protesters, with about 70 arrested at last count.

By 6 p.m. the same night, protesters were back in Zuccotti Park.

The goal of Billionaire Bloomberg and his cohorts on Wall Street remains the same: to decapitate the movement. As protesters reentered the square, they did so under heavy police presence, with onerous rules such as no tents, sleeping bags, backpacks and so on. People with medical equipment were denied access.

Whether OWS will be able to regain momentum is an open question. However, the accomplishment of elevating the movement remains. What began as an encampment in one section of Manhattan became thousands of encampments, a shutdown for a day of the country’s fifth-largest port in Oakland, and an increasingly pro-worker movement that has put the tactic of occupation on the table and breathed new life into the culture of resistance.

This last week has seen corporate media coverage swing decisively against the Occupy movement. Even as more details of the outrageous Penn State scandal were surfacing, it was the Occupy movement that was being treated as dirty and dangerous, public enemy #1. The racist New York Post led the charge against OWS, dubbing an off-duty cop who physically attacked an OWS protester a “hero.”

The movement now enters a new stage. The New York establishment may have weakened the encampment at Zuccotti Park itself. But the new fighting people’s movement is here to stay.