By Lucy Perkins
Last week, media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protests grew to unprecedented numbers as a result of police raids across the country. Protests in New York City, Oakland and many other locations were suppressed by police officers in efforts to eradicate protesters and their tents from their stake-out areas.
The police intended to disband these protests for many alleged reasons; some were health and safety risks, while others came as orders from mayors and other public officials who believed that Occupiers should take their ideas and camping equipment home and get back to work.
However, if these crackdowns were aimed at reducing the Occupy presence in the media and in the lives of the public, police action obtained the opposite result
In many statements in the media, OWS protesters reiterated time and time again that the point of the movement was not to evoke immediate change in Congress. Protesters hoped to raise awareness about economic disparities in the United States, which could then lead to economic reforms and let the people and government reconnect with one another.
These raids, though unnecessarily violent at times, could be one of the best things to happen to the Occupy Wall Street movement. As shown by last week’s police raids, the protest has gotten more coverage than ever, doing exactly what protesters wanted. Public officials’ attempts to move the group from public parks and campuses publicize and legitimize the movement in a way the protesters could never have achieved on their own.
For reasons specific to each individual, mayors and other authority figures wanted to get rid of these protesters perhaps because they were seen as a legitimate threat. The group had accumulated a large following and officials may have felt that this movement could evoke some sort of unwanted change.
Now, there is talk of Occupy Wall Street influencing political campaigns, as critics nationwide compare the movement to many other powerful civil struggles our country has seen. Perhaps the abundant attention OWS received from the media was a momentary fluke and the movement and protesters will eventually disappear, but a more probable theory would hypothesize that this is only the beginning for Occupy.