November 11, 2011

Three Points About the Alleged Problems at Occupy Camps:

1. Re- allegations that the camps have become breeding grounds for unsanitary conditions, vagrancy, crime, etc.,* one point I haven't seen made elsewhere is that even if the camps were broken up, any criminals, vagrants, or the like that may have been drawn to the camps aren't just going to vaporize; they're going to disperse right back into the rest of the city. And without being unduly pessimistic, they're probably going to be doing more or less the same things there that they were doing at the camps.

If the camps are in fact drawing more trouble-makers into a central location, they should generally be easier to find and police there, not harder. What's happening is probably not so much that the camps are creating problems as that they are making more visible the failures of the police and society at large to cope with trouble-makers – or poverty and the like in general.

2. The second point is just a reminder that incidents of violence almost certainly come not from bona fide Occupy protesters but from agents provocateurs, criminals, or anarchists et al. trying to exploit the situation for their own ends.

3. In ALL cases, the solution is NOT to restrict the First Amendment rights of bona fide protesters. The solution is to police the trouble-makers and help the poor.

(Alternatively, since it's the protesters who are the main victims of the alleged crimes or problems, why not let them decide which they'd prefer, to suffer the problems or to have their rights curtailed? Since we're so keen on deregulation and letting individuals suffer the consequences of their own choices . . . . )

*Here are a couple of recent photos of one of these alleged breeding grounds (the Dallas camp; and when I was there, I did not see the least sign of trash or disorder), as well as some links to documented instances of the use of agents provocateurs by agencies in the U.S.

(And P.S.: If Dallas officials think the Occupy camp is a problem, they should have shut down the Texas State Fair decades ago!)

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