As Jason Easley reported earlier today, the majority of Americans agree with Occupy Wall Street protesters; the income gap between rich and poor is too great. That is in direct contrast to the 27% who support the Tea Party, according to a poll by Time.
A majority of city council members went on the record in support of the people.
According to the Washington Post, Council Chair Pro Tempore Mary M. Cheh was joined by twelve members of the DC Council recognizing that the protesters have a legitimate reason to protest.
Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) said;
“Sometimes for people without means, the only way to get a message out is a public display,”
Cheh, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University also noted:
“Other issues could develop, such as public health, but I think we shouldn’t be too quick to sweep them off the public plaza.”
Twelve additional council members support the protesters in their effort to oppose corporate greed.
Phil Mendelson, who chairs the Public Safety and the Judiciary committee made the observation that costs which will be incurred are “secondary to the people’s First Amendment rights.” Isn’t it nice to know that someone recognizes the bottom line cannot dictate if people’s constitutional rights should be respected?
Mendelson also pointed out that there has to be a time limit for every protest
“If [the Park Service] comes out and says it will be a year, I think there will be conversations,”
Council Member, Marion Barry expressed his support for the protest thusly:
“They have a campaign and we need more young people against Wall Street.”
Moderate Council member Jack Evans noted that, so far, the protesters have been “quite peaceful.” David A Catania, member at large, is another moderate who observed the protesters represent “the strength of the country.”
Council Member Harry Thomas Jr.’s observation, sums up what Occupy DC protesters want politicians to understand.
“The people, they own this.”
The occupy DC organizers reached an agreement to extend permits until December 30th. Based on the views expressed by council members, there is a possibility, if needed, to extend that deadline. That is a point that has local business concerned.
Richard Bradley, who is the executive director of the Downtown Business Improvement District, has all kinds of concerns like how long occupying Freedom Plaza and McPherson square would be part of the protesters exercising their first amendment rights. According to an e/mail, (obtained by the Washington post) which Bradley sent to his association’s members:
“While the Downtown BID recognizes First Amendment rights, we question NPS allowing overnight stays, structures to be erected in the parks and cooking using flammable materials,” the e-mail read. “In addition, the Downtown BID is requesting that Park Police be assigned to secure the parks 24/7, parks maintenance crews be deployed regularly and parks funding be secured to repair damage to the parks.”
My guess: the protesters will be there as long as it takes for people like Mr. Bradley to recognize that the status quo just isn’t acceptable to the protesters or to the majority of people across America. They will be there as long as it takes for corporate interests and their defenders understand that Americans want a political and economic system that is fair to everyone, not only the top one percent.
Pat Robertson referred to the protestors as “clowns” as seen in the video below from rightwingwatch.org. To paraphrase John Lennon, I suspect the protesters are willing to become America’s clowns if it helps spread the word that corporate greed is no longer acceptable, if it ever was.