Police, and not the owner of Zuccotti Park, made the call to evict Occupy Wall Street protesters nearly two years ago, a judge ruled this week. So a lawsuit against park owner Brookfield Office Properties by protesters, reporters, and at least one city councilman won’t move forward. U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald said the plaintiffs, including Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who was arrested on his way to the park as police cleared out occupiers, had no claim against Brookfield for the crackdown. The suit said police “arrested and assaulted reporters and elected officials, including some of the plaintiffs herein, to prevent them from covering or even observing the police action.” The city has already settled a lawsuit over the removal of the Occupy library, but this suit claimed police and property owners violated activists’ First Amendment rights to speech and assembly, which the city denies.
[B]ad systems corrupt good individuals [by] enlisting our self-interest to convince us to betray our values. And make no mistake: America’s campaign finance system is a disaster. Most candidates can’t self-finance their campaigns, so they spend a disproportionate amount of time asking the rich to donate to their campaigns. Those donations are limited to $2,800 per individual, but the Supreme Court believes political spending is a protected form of free speech, so the rich can spend as much as they want on their own campaigns, or on Super PACs to push their political agendas.
Populists like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and, in his complicated and contradictory ways, even Donald Trump, have risen in part because Americans loathe seeing their political system bought by the rich. Bloomberg isn’t so much a defense against those critiques as he is a confirmation of them. The populists say that politics is rigged, elections are bought by those with enough money to spend, modern liberalism is mere lipstick on perpetual corporatism. Bloomberg is here to test whether they’re right. He may pitch himself to centrists as an answer to the populists, but in leveraging his fortune to fight them, he offers the country the (hopefully) false choice between populism and oligarchy.