A couple of open letters re: Occupy Portland
Dear Portland City Council:
What's with the schizo behavior regarding Occupy Portland? Yes, I know, you have your precious discretion to let them hang out in the parks or not, and you're trying to walk a tightrope between bleeding heart "progressivism" and authoritarian rule. But exactly what sense does it make to send the cops out in their Ninja Turtle outfits to break up an encampment in the park, locking up a couple of dozen people, only to have the riot forces abruptly march away and let the hipsters return and party all night? If you're going to clear the park, wouldn't it make sense to hang around and see that it stays cleared, at least for the rest of the night? The park is either closed, or it isn't.
It seems as though the police remain on the scene just long enough to rack up enough overtime to buy a new flat screen TV. Then they disappear, and the obnoxious party cranks right back up.
And what's with allowing so many streets to be obstructed by all the unpredictable, unannounced marches? Somebody's going to get run over -- that can't be what you want. People who can't stay on the sidewalks need to be given some sort of incentive to do so. When last I checked, it was your responsibility to figure out what that should be. So far, you've fallen down on the job.
If you were to decide one of these nights to get serious -- to arrest everybody out there who's making a nuisance of themselves, and keep them locked up all night -- some of us would support you on cost-savings grounds alone. Until somebody is actually punished for breaking the law, they'll just keep doing it, and it will be overtime shift after overtime shift. Maybe setting up a mass arrest night, with Tri-Met buses and a processing center far from downtown in a school gymnasium, is in order. But continuing what you've been doing so far seems pretty pointless.
A lot of folks are coming around to your stated view that the "movement," if it can even be called that any more, must "evolve" into something more productive than all-night blowouts and REI tent shows. But until you give the slightest indication that you know what you're doing on the law enforcement side, you'll continue to receive flunking grades from the taxpayers who are paying the millions of dollars that these events are costing the city. Please come up with a rational game plan for the future, and let the residents of the city hear what it is.
Dear "members" of Occupy Portland:
What little credibility you guys may have had before this weekend, you pretty much lost with your pathetic "Thriller for White People" dance party on Saturday night in the Park Blocks. You kept a bunch of elderly and disabled people awake all night, you cost the taxpayers more hundreds of thousands of dollars, and you slowed down and otherwise screwed up downtown holiday activities for all sorts of folks whom you purport to represent.
What does that have to do with economic injustice and corporate crime? Admit it -- nothing, really. One of you was on the tube last night talking about "reflecting" on your "successes." Exactly what in heaven's name would those be? You've showed that a lot of people are angry -- wonderful, that was six weeks ago. What else have you done? Nothing productive, as far as I can see.
If you want to party on the cheap, find a dive bar somewhere with no cover charge and a decent sound system, and dance the night away. If you want to camp out, there are many campgrounds in the region that are empty this time of year. And if you really want to deliver a political message -- which looks more improbable by the week -- march around all you want from 7 in the morning until 9 at night.
On the sidewalk.
At the beginning, I was glad to see you out there; I had been surprised that you hadn't appeared sooner. I didn't care about the money spent on police overtime, because sometimes democracy is messy. But you've had quite a while to come up with a workable agenda, and it hasn't appeared.
You want a just and fair society -- how long do you think that will take? My guess is 30 years at a minimum. Are you going to be out in the park blocks doing the "Thriller" dance for that long?
America has a short attention span, friends, and you're missing your window. In a few more weeks, no one will be watching you on TV, no matter how much you act up. If you're unhappy about how the cops treat you now, you're really not going to like how they act when nobody cares any more.
There'll always be some anarchist in a mask and a blue Mohawk out in the streets wanting to tear everything down. But how much of your life are you going to waste gyrating around getting nowhere? Get this thing focused, or give it up.