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Mayors Across Nation Respond to Occupy Movement
Conference of Mayors Leaders Share Information on Situation in Their Cities

By Laura DeKoven Waxman
October 17, 2011

Mayors across the nation are responding to the rapidly growing Occupy Movement that is sweeping the country and the world. According to the Occupy Together website, as of October 13 it had spread to more than 1500 communities, large and small, located throughout the world, the majority of which are cities in the United States. Among these cities, however, are those who have had as few as two “occupiers,” and some which are “just getting started.”

Conference of Mayors President Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa led a conference call on October 13 in which Conference of Mayors leaders shared information on the impact the Occupy Movement is having on cities and on how cities are responding to it. Mayors participating in the call included Conference of Mayors Vice President Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, Criminal and Social Justice Committee Chair Houston Mayor Annise Parker, Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, Portland Mayor Sam Adams, Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory, and Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra. Among the issues they discussed are:

  • The costs cities are incurring as a result of the events;

  • The impact on other city services;

  • Differing policies relating to permitting and overnight use of public spaces;

  • Ways that cities are endeavoring to accommodate the demonstrations;

  • Differences between local demonstrators and outsiders who come in for the events;

  • The effect on the availability of public spaces for other events and for individuals;

  • Concerns about counter-demonstrations; and

  • The effect on traffic and public transportation.

At the request of the mayors, the Conference of Mayors is collecting information from cities on the city government costs associated with Occupy-related events, issues that are arising, and strategies that are being employed.

The protests began September 17 in New York City with the Occupy Wall Street in Zuccotti Park, which is located in Lower Manhattan and was heavily damaged during the September 11 terrorist attacks. Formerly known as Liberty Plaza Park, it is a privately owned public space which is open 24 hours per day. Since September 17, the Park has been occupied by protestors and used as a staging site for demonstrations on Wall Street, the Brooklyn Bridge, and other New York City locations.

While the Occupy Movement does not have a unified message, those participating in the events – termed “occupiers” – seem to be protesting against social and economic inequality, corporate greed, and the influence of corporate money and lobbyists on government, among other concerns. They have pointed out the excessive influence of big business and the wealthiest one percent of Americans on U.S. laws and policies and said they represent the other 99 percent. It appears that an attempt to develop a list of demands is underway.