Saturday, December 03, 2011
Yes, Freedom Can Be Expensive
Now that the Occupy Philly protesters have been removed from Dilworth Plaza surrounding City Hall, the city has estimated that the 8 week occupation cost the city $1,052,000, mostly in police overtime. While this number is accurate, its prominence in the media (such as the Philadelphia Inquirer and the major news channels) has shown how skewed the reporting has been. While the media seemed quick to report any isolated incidents of violence or criminal behavior, and focus on arrests such as the sit down at the Comcast Building or the demonstration outside the police station, they have given precious little space to investigating and analyzing the claims that the occupiers have been highlighting, such as the huge tax breaks that major corporations like Comcast have been given by the city. How much money has this corporate giveback cost the residents of the city? Not a word from the media on that.
As city officials have been quick to note the struggles to balance the city budget is part of the struggle of the 99% the occupiers claim to represent. Overall, I think the city officials, especially Police Commissioner Ramsay and Mayor Nutter, did their best to remain open to the concerns and demands of the occupiers. The reason they were removed was so that a multimillion renovation providing hundreds of jobs for local residents could go forward. That fact itself caused a split in the occupiers, between some who wanted to remain, and others who felt that the promise of jobs (a major concern of the Occupy movement) required them to move off the Dilworth Plaza sight.
The Occupy Philly activists have pledged to continue to bring forth their message. I hope they do. However, unless the media chooses to report on the real substance of the movement, we may not get to hear their message