Evictions Mark a New Start for 'Occupy Wall Street,' Not an End

Evicting Occupy-ers from their camps will not stop the movement.


If fish and house guests both start to stink after three days, the staying power of the "Occupy" whatever movements around the country has been pretty impressive. Some have been camping out for months, with mixed relationships with local authorities. The Occupy Wall Street campers in New York were evicted; there have been disturbing reports of crime, including a shooting and a sexual assault, at other venues.

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

But in other cities, the demonstrations have gone more smoothly, reminding us that an entire movement (especially one as amorphous as the "Occupy" camp-outs) should not be judged by the example of a few people or city movements. Occupy-ers in Buffalo, for example, recently held a "thank you" rally for local police, honoring the civil servants for fostering a cooperative relationship with the campers. And in Washington, D.C., where police are used to dealing with big demonstrations, campers have been similarly laudatory, saying police have done their jobs without harassing the demonstrators.

[See photos of the "Occupy" protests.]

It appears, however, that the campgrounds may be on their way out, as localities worry about the safety and sanitation implications of long-time squatting. This may upset some of the movement's followers, but it would be a mistake for elected officials and corporate executives to assume the movement itself is finished.

The evictions are not a long-term defeat for the "Occupy" movement. In fact, it is better for them from a public relations perspective to appear to be the victims of "The Man" (elected or corporate) than to pack up and leave voluntarily because it was getting too darn cold. And geography doesn't matter when it comes to the underlying reasons for the movement.

[Read a timeline of the Occupy Wall Street protests.]

Voters are angry, and it's not as one-way as either major political party would have us believe. Americans are angry at Congress. They are angry at the White House. They are angry at Democrats and Republicans. And they are angry at Wall Street. The campers may be forced to move it along. But the anger doesn't go away. Without the campgrounds as an outlet for their anger, demonstrators will have to vent in another way. Next year, that is likely to be at the ballot box. And that—if not the campgrounds—will get officials' attention.

  • See political cartoons on Occupy Wall Street.
  • Read the  U.S. News debate on whether Occupy Wall Street is the next Tea Party
  • See the 10 best cities to occupy.