In cities across the country, protesters have been arrested for refusing to leave public areas. There have been reports of rape, crack cocaine distribution, nudity, sexual activity, and violence against business owners. Protesters have been captured on video defecating on police cars and the American flag, and splattering urine and blood on food vendors.
The result has been a toxic combination of health hazards and offensive odors. In Atlanta, there have been two confirmed cases of the deadly disease, tuberculosis.
Today, in New York, Mayor Bloomberg reached his toleration limit and removed all of the protesters from Zuccotti Park. He literally power washed the grounds and surrounded the park with police in riot gear. As is the case in other cities, dozens of people were arrested in New York after clashing with police. While occupiers will be allowed to return to protest, no more tents or camping equipment will be permitted. The Mayor is finally putting the interest of the vast majority of citizens and tourists over the radical demands of a relatively few demonstrators. There is a First Amendment right to free speech, but there is no right to permanently occupy a public park.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu should take a clue from Mayor Bloomberg. It is time to shut down the Duncan Plaza site, so the public can once again enjoy the park. In the past few weeks, there has been an arrest for a machete attack and a dead man was discovered inside a tent. This occupier had been deceased for at least two days before any of his friends noticed.
Yesterday, Mayor Landrieu launched a “Don’t Trash Dat” campaign to clean up the city before major sporting and cultural events are held in 2012. Next year, New Orleans will serve as host for the BCS Championship game, the NCAA Men’s Final Four, a 200th anniversary celebration of the War of 1812, as well as our usual tourist highlights such as Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, and a variety of other festivals and music events.
This is obviously designed to spruce up New Orleans before millions of tourists descend on the city. However, it is crazy to launch a “Don’t Trash Dat” campaign while allowing hundreds of occupiers to accumulate trash at Duncan Plaza.
The best place to start the clean-up campaign is at Duncan Plaza. Mayor Landrieu should send in the police and send the protesters home.
Yesterday, he said that protesters would probably be asked to leave “sooner rather than later.” Yet, he refused to give a timetable and said that New Orleans had been a “great host to Occupy NOLA.”
Most tourists and local residents enjoy the city playing host to major events, not major protest marches that refuse to end.
It is time for Mayor Landrieu to show leadership and tell the occupiers what he should have said weeks ago, “the party’s over.”
Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and he is the host of a Louisiana based program, “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m.weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. For more information, visit his web site at www.ringsidepolitics.com. E-mail him at [email protected]
(Press release-Dept. of Interior)