'Occupy' protests' million-dollar tab

'Occupy' protests' million-dollar tab

December 1st, 2011 in Opinion Free Press

So-called "Occupy Wall Street" protesters around the country are critical of the excesses of corporations that they believe are making "too much" money. But they seem to have no qualms about forcing taxpayers in the cities where they are demonstrating to rack up excessive costs to manage the protests.

The Associated Press did a survey of just 18 of the cities where the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations have been taking place. It found police overtime and other services cost taxpayers in those cities alone at least $13 million over a two-month period. That does not include the expense of handling the protests in many other cities around the nation, so the true cost is almost certainly millions of dollars more.

In Atlanta alone, just two weeks of managing the demonstrations cost the city nearly half a million dollars, as protesters deliberately ignored reasonable time, place and manner restrictions on their activities.

In Los Angeles, protesters have done an estimated $200,000 worth of damage to a park. Asked about that harm, one demonstrator casually dismissed such concerns. He told the AP, "We're here fighting corporate greed and they're worried about a lawn?"

Don't taxpayers have a right to be worried about the destruction of public property for which they paid good money?

In Oakland, Calif., meanwhile, protesters forcibly shut down a major port, and authorities expect the cost of dealing with the protests there to exceed $3 million.

"The cost of the encampments is growing and putting a strain on our already fragile resources -- police, public works and other city staff," Mayor Jean Quan said.

It is long past time for the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators to renounce the lawbreaking methods of some of their number, and embrace the peaceful, orderly free-assembly rights guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution.

It is unconscionable that, instead, they are endangering public safety and property, and sending the bill for their illegal behavior to the very Americans they claim to support.