Many of the so-called Occupy Wall Street demonstrators around the United States have voiced their views in lawful, orderly fashion. But many haven't, and that is becoming costly for taxpayers.
In Atlanta, city officials had to spend nearly half a million dollars over just a two-week period to provide a police presence and otherwise deal with protesters -- scores of whom have broken the law. For instance, more than 50 demonstrators were arrested in an Atlanta park when they refused to leave at the regular 11 p.m. closing time.
There are reasons why cities restrict the operating hours of parks and other public facilities. Atlanta does not have such rules to be mean to the protesters. Rather, city officials know that leaving parks open around the clock invites criminal activity that endangers the public. It is reasonable, therefore, that Atlanta wants to enforce its limits on when people may be in its parks -- and it is unreasonable that protesters are defying commonsense time, place and manner restrictions on their activities.
It is also troubling that a group of demonstrators, led by Jesse Jackson, reportedly "took over" and "shut down" the lobby of the headquarters of a bank in Atlanta.
They are free to hold whatever views they wish about a bank or any company. But that is no excuse for "occupying" private property. If they feel a company has acted illegally, they should seek legal remedies for that. But they have no business taking the law into their own hands and using coercive tactics to make a point.
Some of the Occupy Wall Street protesters' tactics have come to represent a threat to the rule of law -- the same rule of law that protects their very right to protest. That is alarming and should not be tolerated. Demonstrators who violate the law in Atlanta or anywhere else should be arrested and prosecuted.