Occupy Wall Street arrests increase. Have mayors reached their tipping point?
"The Occupy strategy of [encampments] has been essential to its success in changing the national conversation about economic inequality, but it's a very difficult strategy to maintain over a long period of time," says T.V. Reed, an American studies professor and expert on social movements at Washington State University, in Pullman. "If the protests are seen as becoming routine, then they lose their ability to gain the attention of people."
And Reed continues, gaining the attention of people, many times means clashes with authorities.
For the most part Occupy gatherings have remained peaceful and protesters cite free speech rights as they vow to hold steadfast in their camps. But mayors like Mr. Reed in Atlanta say protesters are breaking city rules that would lead to arrests of other citizens, including a no-camping rule in city parks.
Showing his frustration this weekend, Reed personally addressed one of the de-facto leaders of the movement during a meeting in a police trailer after protesters in Atlanta's Woodruff Park held an unlicensed hip-hop concert.
“I believe they placed lives at risk this weekend,” said Reed, who has already pushed the eviction date back twice after meeting with protesters. “The nature of the relationship has changed.”
Framing the confrontation as police overreach, protesters charged Reed with "malfeasance." One protest supporter, former City Councilor Derrick Boazman, in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, called Atlanta police chief George Turner, who is black, a "Bull Connor" character in reference to the ignominious Birmingham police commissioner who cracked down on civil rights protesters.