Feb 1, 2012

The Reality of The Occupation

It’s been quite a while since I posted about the Occupy DC camp near my office. Mostly that’s because I’m tired of it. Whereas it once amused me, it’s devolved into an annoying nuisance. For me this has ceased to be a political issue, it’s purely a practical one.

Picture this… a park with lovely, old, leafy trees. There is a statue of a horse and rider in the center of the park and hundreds of people pass it each day as they cut through the park on one of the many concrete pathways. Still more people sit on park benches (those not occupied by the homeless – let’s keep it real) or lounge on the lush, green, grass eating their lunch or reading a book or just relaxing with a friend. There are curved flower beds flanking the statue like parentheses and they are replanted periodically to keep them fresh. For a few months there are tulips before changing to pansies or marigolds. It’s a place that I walk through often and enjoy.

That’s what McPherson Square Park was like after the lengthy rehab it went through last spring. The months long project cost you and I, the taxpaying public, thousands of dollars.
These days the park and it’s surroundings are a mess. No grass is left – it’s been trampled to death and the statue is adorned with a big blue tarp they call the Tent of Dreams. The new tableau includes tents in various states of disrepair. What started as a temporary community which seemed orderly has become jumbled. There is trash everywhere and goodness knows what lurks beneath. The Art of the Occupation has been repurposed in countless ways as have office chairs and other trash that has been dragged into the park. Did I mention the port-a-potties? They are parked on the edge of the park right where my ride drops me off every morning and one of them is leaking. Seriously! Ewwww.

And let’s not forget the side effects of the Occupation. A few of the areas homeless have been inspired and have popped tents on nearby Metro grates. There is a constant police presence and many days news vans with their satellite antennas raised ring the park. The Occupiers themselves are often found congregating in the nearby cafes and now there are signs on the doors to these places advising of a time limit for dining. Actual diners only please.

The media has been full of reports this week about the possible eviction of the Occupiers in McPherson. They expected violent confrontations and arrests. And my daughters begged me to stay home. That’s a side effect of the Occupy DC encampment too.


Carole Knits said...

They booted the Occupiers out of Boston a while back for many of the same reasons that you mentioned here. I am conflicted because I agree with the right to protest but I don't agree with how that has turned into the right to, well, camp.

Mini said...

i, like Carole, live in Boston-- and we booted them right out. I do believe in the right to protest, but c'mon--- if you want to camp, head to a state-funded camping ground, not the middle of Dewey Square. Our mayor cited cleanliness issues with the eviction. Stand and shout, picket and protest, but don't infringe on local business and come back daily. We have two local union guys who are protesting on the corner near my work. They show up every day at 7 and leave at 6--- commuters see them. They have impact-- in fact they inspired my boss to change one of the hotels we contract with after he stopped and asked about their qualms with one in particular. They are not sleeping on the corner.