Killing them with kindness


The Occupy Wall Street movement might have died on the vine were it not for the short-sightedness (and I'm being kind) of certain members of the New York Police Department. The protests in Manhattan went from little more than zero news coverage -- and interest from the wider public -- to moderate attention levels after a NYPD higher-up pepper-sprayed peaceful demonstrators, and it spiked to intense national awareness after police rounded up and arrested 700 people on the Brooklyn Bridge on Oct. 1.

The protesters, meanwhile, have been remarkably peaceful. There've been no major episodes of vandalism or physical violence that has been tied to the demonstrators in any city in more than three weeks. Which is great. Seeing how things are playing out, the authorities now suddenly seem to be bending over backwards now to reciprocate. Simply put, they may want to kill Occupy Wall Street -- and the various affinity groups like Occupy Philadelphia -- with kindness.

Here in Philadelphia, Mayor Nutter and Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey have been out strolling and kibitzing with the local protestors, allowing them to erect tents and City Hall and march across town. There hasn's been a single arrest.

And now this:

Occupy Wall Street protesters can camp out in their downtown park indefinitely - or until rain and snow drives them out, Mayor Bloomberg said Monday.

"The bottom line is people want to express themselves. And as long as they obey the laws, we will allow them to," Bloomberg said.

"I think part of it probably has to do with the weather."

It was a minor change from last week, when Bloomberg suggested that it was only a matter of time before the city put an end to the encampment in Zuccotti Park near the Stock Exchange.

So will the death of the Occupy Everything movement come not at the blunt end of a nightstick, but from...boredom? Like everything else in this uncharted territory, only time will tell. Some protesters will surely run out of time or money or interest or patience, but others won't. I do think the media -- and this is an area with which I speak with some experience -- has a low threshold for ennui. Here in Philadelphia, it might spark some interest if protesters branched out more from the friendly confines of City Hall and into more hostile, 1-Percent controlled territory, the people that they're actually protesting against.

Or in other words....where is Abbie Hoffman when you need him?