The Occupy Wall Street protest has managed to keep its base of operations in New York’s Zuccotti Park despite the Mayor’s proclamation that they must leave, and it looks like political pressure played a decisive role.
Mayor Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show that the park’s owner, Brookfield Office Properties, “Got lots of calls from many elected officials threatening them and saying … ‘We’re going to make your life more difficult.’”
If it wasn’t clear enough before, it now appears obvious there are heavy-hitter politicos at work behind the scenes that want Occupy Wall Street to continue.
While there have been no further specifics yet on the “elected officials” Bloomberg mentioned, the occupiers are getting support from across the political, financial, and media worlds.
The White House has expressed sympathy for the protestors, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said they are a reminder of all the work government has left to do. Mayor Bloomberg told his staff they are under strict orders not to pressure Brookfield one way or another with regard to Zuccotti Park and the protestors. Countless celebrities have either visited Zuccotti park, or otherwise publicly expressed solidarity.
In addition, there are more signs of outside financing than every before. Reuters has suspiciously backtracked on its coverage of Occupy Wall Street’s financial connection to George Soros, but many still believe the connection has merit and was retracted for political reasons.
Regardless of politics behind the scenes, the protestors won big today, and they know it.
Instead of clearing out the park, the NYPD was told to hold back at around 6AM. Soon after it became clear to both Occupiers and onlookers that nothing was going to happen– that the protestors’ allies in politics and media has won– a march started that turned violent, and 14 arrests ensued.
The situation is now more volatile at Zuccotti Park than anything since the arrest of 700 protestors on the Brooklyn Bridge a couple of weeks ago. In many ways, it has become even more precarious.
In their own eyes, the protestors stood firm. They prepared themselves for an onslaught of eviction and arrests that never came. In fact, from what I saw and heard this morning in Zuccotti Park, they have never felt more righteous, or more bold.
Police officers used metal interlocking barricades to pen in the main protest area, and then stood by and watched. One protestor told me that the police are frustrated, because now they know their job just got a lot harder.
The new narrative at Liberty Square is Occupy Wall Street stood up to “the man” and won. Here is a clip that shows the mood of the Occupiers as they sing “We Shall Overcome:”
Now we’re forced to ask the question: If the Occupiers friends can control a massive multinational corporation (Brookfield), a powerful billionaire mayor, and defy the largest, most well-organized police department in the country, what will they consider outside their reach?
What will stop them?
We may learn the answer to that question tomorrow, as thousands of protestors plan to descend on Times Square, and occupations around the world are preparing to gather in solidarity.
But the signs I saw this morning calling for class warfare have become much more ominous.