"Occupy Wall Street has renewed a sense of hope," an OWS statement released after the raid said. "It has revived a belief in community and awakened a revolutionary spirit too long silenced."
But a number of recent deaths, including a suicide and several drug overdoses, in various camps, added to complaints about noise, drug use, and sanitation problems, have tarnished the movement and affected what some call the "optics" of public perception.
A Siena College poll released Tuesday showed that 66 percent of New York voters don't believe Occupy Wall Street represents 99 percent of people, but it also showed that 57 percent of New Yorkers believe protesters should be able to camp in public parks. The poll also showed that support for the Occupy movement had waned among New Yorkers in the last month, from 49 percent to 45 percent.
Indeed, a build-up of what protesters have mostly insisted are "isolated incidents" swayed even pro-Occupy mayors like Oakland's Jean Quan. After facing heavy pressure from politicians and police unions, Mayor Quan ordered that Frank Ogawa Plaza again be swept free of tents on Monday, even as two of her staff resigned in protest against police tactics. Police in Portland, Ore., Burlington, Vt., and Denver have also evicted protesters from urban camps in the last few days.
"We came to this point because Occupy Oakland, I think, began to take a different path than the original movement," Quan said. "The encampment became a place where we had repeated violence and last week a murder. We had to bring the camp to an end before more people got hurt."
After zigzagging between support and opposition, Mayor Bloomberg sent in police early Tuesday morning, arresting 200 people, sweeping Zuccotti Park clean, and sending the remaining protesters in search of a new park to occupy.