(guardian.co.uk) As Wall Street wormed its way into everyone’s life, so Occupy protests grow everywhere: symbolic for now, but changing debate.
On the night of 28 October, more than 100 Tennessee highway patrolmen made their way down the steps of Nashville’s war memorial in single file. Above them, embossed in stone, a quote from President Woodrow Wilson: “America is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured.” Below them, in the plaza, supporters of Occupy Nashville, who believe too much treasure is concentrated in too few hands, corrupting the principles on which their nation was founded.
Earlier in the day the state had imposed a curfew on Legislative Plaza, where the protesters had been camping. That night, after a five-minute warning, the troopers marched silently to physically remove them by their arms and legs. “It was like watching a movie in mute,” says Albert Rankin, who’s been at the camp since the beginning. “It was really eerie.” Within days a judge had overturned the ruling and the protesters were allowed to stay unharassed.
It is fitting, given the nature of the bailouts and hundreds of thousands of repossessions triggered by this economic crisis, that resistance to it would at some stage become a battle over public space with the risk of mass evictions. In the last few weeks, as popular support for these mostly peaceful protests has grown, the struggle for the right to stage them at all has intensified. From Vancouver to Melbourne and Boston to Bournemouth, encampments have been raided or banned.