Liberty Park can be anywhere

Auteur: Tod Gidlin

The Occupy movement has much to gain from its symbolic eviction. But only if it evolves beyond Zuccotti

Forcibly dispersed in the wee, dark hours of Nov. 15, as pesky journalists were shoved away by the police, the occupants of Zuccotti Park — aka Liberty Square — were surely reminded that Michael Bloomberg was not only the mayor but, when all was said and done, possibly the best-known 1-percenter in Greater New York.

The mayor held a press conference later to say: “The First Amendment protects speech. It doesn’t protect the use of tents and sleeping bags to take over a public space.” Previously, the mayor had declared: “New York City is the city where you can come and express yourself. What was happening in Zuccotti Park was not that.” The protesters, he went on, had taken over the park, “making it unavailable to anyone else.” I suppose it could be said that any demonstration makes a given space “unavailable to anyone else.” And as for “expressing yourself,” well, that’s not what the First Amendment says, either.

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