Occupy Wall Street plans biggest marches yet, but can it avoid pitfalls?
'Occupy Wall Street' is planning its biggest action yet: marches Saturday nationwide. But as the movement tests the tolerance of police and cash-strapped cities, can it keep its message positive?
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Boston police announced this week that they anticipate a $2 million tab for police overtime in dealing with the protesters.Skip to next paragraph
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While Los Angeles does not pay for overtime, notes Commander Smith, “every officer deployed to deal with the protesters is someone that isn’t patrolling the streets or available for emergency responses.”
Members of the Los Angeles encampment acknowledge that they cannot stay on the streets forever. They say they are working hard to take the group to the next stage. Film producer Jil Hardin says the next big order of business to avert the fate of many short-lived protests “is to find a building where we can begin to organize and be more effective.”
Ms. Hardin was quick to note that she is not a spokeswoman for the group, rather one of many who congregate for the nightly steering committee meetings in front of City Hall. She says they are hunting for a site somewhere in the downtown area, “so we can stop worrying only about the day-to-day issues like feeding people and taking out trash.”
Groups in other cities are considering this same idea, she says.
As someone accustomed to using local streets as film locations, Hardin says she knows the importance of cooperating with local officials to get things done. Her local Occupy group is planning a Saturday march from downtown Pershing Square to City Hall.
“We have permits and a very good relationship with the Los Angeles Police Department,” she says. “This is something we have worked on from the very beginning.”
Moving off the streets would serve another purpose of which the LAPD itself is keenly aware. “Inside this group there are nihilists and anarchists that have embedded themselves. They advocate things that we don’t want any part of here,” says Smith.
The clock is ticking for the movement’s efforts to forestall negative incidents, says Chris Falkenberg, former US Secret Service agent and president of Insite Security, a firm that provides security for high net-worth individuals.
He says the movement can take a lesson from the constant vigilance that lies at the heart of his work.
“Movements like this tend to attract all kinds of people,” he says. “Most of the people in these parks have very good motives and ideals, but they need to be aware that not everyone joining in has the same pure motives they do.”
IN PICTURES: Best signs of Occupy Wall Street protests