Thursday, October 27, 2011

Occupy?

Like a lot of people, I have been following the occupy movement in the last month. While I agree and support anyone's right to peacefully assemble and to exercise free speech, I am against breaking laws that protect all of us from public health issues and decency.  There is such a thing as civil disobedience but what I see as the problem is those who have "camped" in parks that are not equipped for camping. There are no fire pits, restrooms (in some of them), some even have no picnic benches.
The local authorities, in their eagerness to appease the protestors, have put themselves and their communities in an awkward and dangerous positions.  Having not set any boundaries, they now reap the consequences. The ecology of some of these parks is either ruined or seriously damaged and will take thousands of dollars to repair, for one thing.  The health risks of urination and defecation are huge: exposing all who camp there, other animals, present possibilities of horrid infection in even the simplest wound.  At the very least, why were no portable toilets provided?  Seems to me that would have been a cheap early solution.
Had the city officials set boundaries at the very onset of the protests, I highly doubt that the events in Oakland and other places would have  happened.  Camping in the parks should have been dealt with immediately. The protestors could be there from 6 a.m. (when most opened) and then left at 10 p.m. (when most closed). What is wrong with that? Since they would be there long hours, portable toilets should have been provided.  At least 4 for large crowds. I read where one park provided two for over a thousand protestors. That is not a workable solution and invites people taking care of "nature calls" where they could (local shops, residents nearby or the park itself). I would like to believe that the protestors who resorted to urinating and defecating in the park on the grass would have preferred not to do so.
The protestors who provided food/meals had to have known that the homeless would take advantage of the free food. If they (the protestors) didn't want to share, it would be up to them to police the area and ask those "mooching" to leave, I would think.  I just think that both the city officials and the protestors could have taken reasonable measures to ensure that violent clashes didn't happen.  Instead, some city officials just made supportive statements and then when things got ugly, other citizens complained and general disturbances among the protestors occurred, the city officials reacted with too strong a police presence.  I would hope that both sides have learned some lessons here and the protests can take a different direction and mood and the city officials can make the boundaries crystal clear and stand by those boundaries.