NYPD, “Vagrants” and Occupy Wall Street

Police making an arrest during the Times Square Rally of Occupy Wall Street, Oct. 15, 2011 © Timothy Krause | Flickr

I first heard reports of police sending released “vagrants,” for lack of a better term, to Liberty Plaza from two protestors who showed up at my apartment early on the morning after they were arrested on 10/15/2011 at the Times Square rally. The media now seems to be aware of this phenomenon as well.  Harry Siegel reported in The New York Daily News:

“And there’s the rub: The ‘model’ civilization that’s sprung up at Zuccotti is itself increasingly divided between the stakeholders in the nascent movement who feel invested in the emerging economic, social and cultural causes of ‘the 99%,’ and hangers-on, including a fast-growing contingent of lawbreakers and lowlifes, many of whom seem to have come to the park in the last week with the cynical encouragement of the NYPD.”

But why would anyone interpret the presence of “lowlifes” at Liberty Plaza as in any way representative of OWS or even as a shortcoming of OWS, when it is now common knowledge that the NYPD has been sending these people to Liberty. Like many in the general public, Siegel has been duped by the fully legal yet fully underhanded tactics of the NYPD. He criticizes OWS when he clearly should criticize the NYPD, not to mention the entire criminal justice system of this nation.

OWS is not the source of this controversial issue within OWS, our nation’s criminal justice system is. The cynical tactic on the part of the NYPD demonstrates yet again that our justice system does nothing to “reform” individuals such as these. It reveals that our justice system, contrary to its expected purposes, takes no responsibility for protecting the public from the non-reformed, seasoned “lowlifes” they send to live among the general public, as well as at Liberty Plaza.

The presence of “vagrants” and the problems that they create at Liberty Plaza are not indicative of a failure of the occupation. It clearly represents a spectacular failure of a significant part of the system the occupation is directed against.