Since being evicted from Zuccotti Park in the fall, some Occupy Wall Street protesters have migrated north a bit to Manhattan’s Union Square, where police have been clearing them out nightly to prevent another encampment. But last night, the New York Times reports, some occupiers spent the night, albeit on the sidewalk instead of in the park. Citing the 2000 decision Metropolitan Council Inc. v. Safir, which said overnight stays on sidewalks are an acceptable form of protest, demonstrators curled up outside banks on 14th Street.
“It is our First Amendment right to sleep on the street!” read fliers passed around by protesters. “Lets go to sleep,” they chanted. “As long as we don’t block doors or take up more than half the sidewalk there is no disorderly conduct,” one demonstrator explained. For once, the NYPD arrested no one.
Meanwhile, The Nation has a larger look today at Occupy’s tactics moving forward, and explores a potential divide between the movement and some more established groups that share, or have co-opted, similar messaging. The 99 Percent Spring, which hopes to inspire direct, non-violent action, is being organized by MoveOn.org, with support from Greenpeace, the Working Families Party, and more, which leaves some protesters uneasy:
Many Occupiers view MoveOn as an extension of the Democratic Party, since the group first rose to prominence supporting Democratic and progressive candidates and attacking right-wing figures. Conversely, Occupy is a movement that tends to view both the Democrats and Republicans as being culpable for growing class inequality and the corporate takeover of America.
Yet, when it comes to planned Occupy marches and events like the “general strike” on May 1, bodies are bodies, so everyone should probably try to play nice.