Police in riot gear have become seemingly ubiquitous at Occupy Wall Street protests nationwide. Many are starting to feel it isn't a coincidence.
The numerous crackdowns on Occupy protests from coast to coast have many wondering if the moves by several U.S. cities were coordinated. A BBC interview with Oakland Mayor Jean Quan has added to speculation that U.S. mayors worked together in organizing against the two-month old movement.
18 Mayors on Conference Call
I was recently on a conference call with 18 cities across the country who had the same situation where what had started as a political movement and a political encampment ended up being an encampment that was no longer in control of the people who started them, she said (audio starts at 5:30).
Quan's statement comes on the heels of a string of crackdowns and growing tensions between protestors and localities, most recently embodied in the eviction of Zuccotti Park's denizens.
According to Occupy Wall Street spokesman Patrick Bruner, there were suspicions that the evictions were coordinated.
I think you just confirmed it, he said after hearing of Quan's comments. This is obviously a concerted attempt to shut down our movement.
Over the weekend, Occupy protests in Denver and Portland were booted from their respective camps. Police arrested 15 protestors and dismantled a Salt Lake City camp at a downtown park on Saturday. In St. Louis, 27 protestors were arrested for ignoring a park curfew. In Philadelphia, Mayor Michael Nutter has amped up the police presence around Dilworth Plaza, the stage of the city's Occupy protest.
On Monday, 30 protestors at Occupy Oakland were arrested, and their camp gutted. The move and the city's continued attempts to stymie the protests with numerous raids have left Quan embattled, and led her chief legal adviser to resign.
Quan claimed the Occupy movement is seeking ways to be in compliance with the law, while splintering away from its more unseemly elements (with reports of law-breaking and dubious hygienic conditions plaguing many protests).
I think what you're starting to see is that the Occupy movement is looking for more stability, she said. I spent a lot of last week talking to peaceful demonstrators, one who wanted to separate themselves in my city away from the anarchists groups who have been looking for a confrontation with the police, and who have been responsible for a lot of vandalism in the city. They're now looking for a private space where they can go to do community organizing around the issues that have started the movement. [...] The Occupy movement itself is having a hard time controlling the encampment.
According to Bruner, the efforts, coordinated or not, will only embolden the movement.
What the establishment has learned is that every time they try to put us down we get stronger, he said.