'Occupy Wall Street' About More Than Tents in Zuccotti Park

'Occupy' protesters don't need tents and sleeping bags to get their voices heard.

By SHARE

I think some of my liberal friends and supporters are going to be angry with me today, for I agree with Justice Michael Stallman's decision regarding the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters in Zuccotti Park.

[Check out editorial cartoons about the "Occupy" movement.]

Now before you create a doll with my likeness and start sticking pins in it, allow me to explain why I hold the opinion I do:

  1. The First Amendment: I love the Constitution. It is what sets us apart from any other nation in the world. As a talk host on radio, a political news analyst on television, and a blogger here and on some other political sites, I count on it every day and am thankful for it every day. But…the Constitution does not say that our right to assemble includes pitching tents. It simply doesn't.
  2. Zuccotti Park is private property: Brookfield Office Properties, Inc. owns the park and although the park is a public-access plaza that must be opened for public use every day of the year under a special permit from the city, they are within their rights to have rules and their rules prohibit camping, the erection of tents, lying on the ground and benches, and the use of sleeping bags. These rules apply not only to "Occupy" protesters, but to the homeless or anyone who might want to use Zuccotti Park.
  3. [See photos of the "Occupy" protests.]

    Now, do I feel this was politically motivated? Sure, most things are. But let me ask you something: Is this movement about tents and camping, or about holding those on Wall Street responsible for what they have done on the backs of the 99 percent? "Occupy" protesters can and must be effective without sleeping in Zuccotti Park. More people see and hear them and their protests during the day, and more dangerous situations can occur at night; that's just common sense. 

    So I don't feel the protesters should waste their time fighting over their tents when they've got a lot of work to do in getting their message out and determining how getting that message out can bring about change. And they need to do their homework. There are plenty of public places in New York City that aren't privately owned, and might not have the same rules and regulations that Zuccotti Park does.

    [Debate Club: Is Occupy Wall Street the New Tea Party?]

    The pitching of tents and camping out didn't elevate awareness or respect for the Occupy Wall Street movement and their cause; quite the opposite. This is an opportunity for Occupy Wall Street to show those on Wall Street, the politicians, the police, etc.—everyone that is trying to reduce their numbers—that this will not stop them from their goal.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: words are powerful, but these words must be followed by actions; pitching tents aren't going to get people to the polls and it certainly isn't going to affect the greed of those on Wall Street. "Occupy" protesters need to figure out what does, and I think when over 650,000 people moved their bank accounts from big banks to smaller credit unions, they were onto something. They need to fight fire with fire. They're mad at Wall Street for what was done with money and the way it was done; they can use their money and their power as consumers and as voters to fight back; tents in hand.

    • See political cartoons on Occupy Wall Street.
    • Read a timeline of the Occupy Wall Street protests.
    • See the 10 best cities to "Occupy."