Zuccotti Park was cleared of Occupy Wall Street protesters this morning. It's time for the movement to lift up, take stock, and pitch a bigger tent.
The scene from Zuccotti Park in the dark early hours of Tuesday morning were surreal and provocative and caught on tape and pixels. Could Occupy Wall Street have wanted it any other way?
The protesters were lucky to be kicked out of Zuccotti last night for two reasons -- the logistical reason and the macro reason. Logistically, these people weren't going to live on the concrete* through February, anyway. Eventually, they were going to leave. Last night's raid gives them a banner headline in newspapers across the country and lets this particular occupation with a bang instead of the whimper of a three-month trickle-out. Just as nationwide enthusiasm was starting to wane, the raid reminds the nation where the movement started.
But the geography of Occupy Wall Street can't become more important than its message. Whether there are tents in Zuccotti Park is secondary to the question of how do you turn a movement veering into a drug-and-violence protest into an inclusive campaign that non-marching liberals can feel a part of?
In the weeks before today, OWS's national -- and then international -- movement had been heading into dangerous territory. Oakland and New York and other protest sites around the country were becoming pockets of violence. We can parcel blame for this violence between law enforcement and protesters, but most Americans aren't interested in parceling. They're interesting in macro impressions. And the macro impression was that Occupy Wall Street was awakening anarchist tendencies that won't find an audience in the quiet frustrations of the American living room.