Mayor Bloomberg said at a news conference on Monday, “The Constitution doesn’t protect tents. It protects speech and assembly.” Jesse Jackson, on the other hand, protects tents. Hours after Bloomberg spoke, the civil rights activist was on the scene like some sort of Occupy Wall Street superhero as NYPD officers in Zuccotti Park attempted to remove the demonstrators’ medical tent, which is in violation of park rules. (The protesters maintain that the tent is merely for medical privacy and that no one sleeps inside.) Animal New York reports that cops gathered on Cedar Street downtown and threatened to take the tent as people “immediately locked arms and vowed to protect” their makeshift hospital.
Jackson reportedly spoke to officers in defense of the structure, and also joined the “human barricade,” walking over and “locking arms with others who formed a circle around it.” Police eventually walked away, drawing cheers from the crowd in a little victory for the occupiers reminiscent of last week’s cleanup standoff.
The mayor, earlier, was less enthused despite poll numbers that show strong support for the movement locally. “We can’t have a place where only one point of view is allowed,” Bloomberg said. “There are places where I think it’s appropriate to express yourself, and there are other places that are appropriate to set up Tent City. They don’t necessarily have to be one and the same.”
Jackson has previously spoken in favor of the demonstrations: “Shared economic security is the message,” he said in Washington, D.C. over the weekend. “The language isn’t there yet but that will come. And of course, the occupation must mature ultimately to legislation. We need to have hearings to reopen the books on the banks. We need to open hearings on the insurance industry. We need to open hearings on the concentration of media ownership. We need elected officials to respond.” But probably not the way that Bloomberg has.