The New York Post has never been a fan of Occupy Wall Street, but the relish with which they tear at Occupy's reemergence on the scene with yesterday's May Day protests is fairly epic—even by Post standards.
First, there's a (reported) article headlined "OWS bums are a big joke," which features a photo in which a cop swings at a protester in a not very joking manner. And then there's an un-bylined opinion piece titled "Goodbye Occupy," which charges the protesters with having nothing better to do, and asks if those who didn't show up "were allergic to rain." It's all rather hilarious and just a bit overstated.
Let's examine the evidence. From the Opinion piece, the protesters are accused of making a mess of the evening commute, yet, at the same time, being mostly union members and holding "scattered demonstrations" (with brief confrontations) with the "well-prepared" cops who arrested 30 some people. Meanwhile, a bunch of construction workers in Midtown told protesters to "Get a job!" The overall takeaway:
Last night’s traffic tie-up notwithstanding, yesterday’s events suggest that the whole Occupy movement is now in the 16th minute of its 15 minutes of fame.
Which is to say, no one cares anymore — assuming anyone ever did.
OK, some did: Besides the usual suspects — anarchists, anti-capitalists and misfits — the “movement” had lots of support in the mainstream media.
Watch your back, mainstream media! Meanwhile, in the reported piece, Frank Rosario, Jamie Schram, and Dan Mangan write that May Day mayhem fizzled "but at least provided a good laugh for hardworking people gazing from their office windows at the demonstrators’ antics as cops took a few dozen into custody." (Some of those hardworking, tie-wearing people had placed a sign reading "The harder I work, the luckier I get" underneath their window. In the battle between Wall Street bros and Wall Street protesters, the Post is firmly on the side of the bros.) There are some great undermining quotes here:
“How can anyone take them seriously? They look like homeless people,” quipped Financial District bartender Kimberly Leo.
“I saw one woman complaining about not having a job, but she had a shirt with the word “nympho” on it,” Leo, 26, said. “These people need a change of wardrobe and a shower.”
This piece repeats what we heard in the other one, that mostly the protests just wreaked havoc with traffic—though the writers report more than 50 arrests instead of 30, and note an incident Tuesday afternoon in which 100 protesters holding a sign reading "F--k the police" knocked over trash cans and banged on cars. There was also an alleged biting:
Elliot Epstein, 19, allegedly bit NYPD Chief Thomas Galati during a scrum on Sixth Avenue and Waverly Place in Greenwich Village.
“[He] fled from an arresting officer, knocked over a scooter cop, and fought with a lieutenant who tried to stop the perp,” a police source said.
After biting Galati, he “then began spitting on Chief Galati and the lieutenant,” the source said. He was hit with a slew of charges including assaulting a police officer.
Despite all that, a "demented demonstrator" who apparently kicked out the rear window of a police car, and a protest-kid in tears in the fray (subtext: Protest parents are shameful; see also "Among the demonstrators was Stacey Hessler, the 38-year-old Florida mom who last year ditched her husband and four kids to camp out in Zuccotti Park with a waiter from Brooklyn. She refused to comment"), passersby were also largely "indifferent," they write. Somehow, the protesters manage the great feat of invoking both mayhem and great numbness among the community. Which is kind of impressive, really.
Of course, the Post is totally playing to their audience—we'd be more surprised if they ever came out in favor of a protest, much less an entire protest movement. And criticizing the protesters themselves, calling them "hippies" and "dirty" and "unemployed" and "bad moms and dads" was a tactic they used repeatedly last fall. The question is, is the Post being just typically Post-curmudgeonly? Or are they, actually, maybe just a teensy bit afraid of the smelly, lazy protesters they spend so much time denigrating? Because that's a lot of words to put to something that no one cares about.