It’s the Rodney Dangerfield of the Occupy Wall Street protests — Occupy Miami, which has been on site at city hall for more than a month now, can’t get no respect.
Last week when Zuccotti Park was forcefully emptied and New York’s OWS protesters streamed across the Brooklyn Bridge, a series of messages was projected on the side of the Verizon Building. Among those messages was a list of Occupy sites — New York, Oakland, Portland. But no Miami. The list included “Florida” instead, no Miami.
Besides a few demonstrations in Sarasota, Daytona and several other Florida cities, no place except Miami has maintained a sustained and violence-free effort. They have negotiated with the city for permits to stay on the property, they police themselves pretty well (one heroin overdose and a runaway 11-year-old notwithstanding), and they hold almost daily demonstrations as well as workshops, discussions and a nightly movie projected on the side of the city hall building.
They even have incorporated (ironically for an anti-corporation movement), but they did it to be able to handle donations — to do business.
It hasn’t been easy. There have been challenges from one of the wettest falls Miami has had in years, homeless people horning in on the movement for free meals and to steal stuff and a few altercations. But from the start the Miamians have worked with police to maintain order, obey the rules and generally conduct themselves as people who just want to change the way the world works.
There was a great story in the Miami Herald yesterday by the paper’s very conservative media critic, Glenn Garvin. And he seemed to be impressed by what he saw — at least his article was more balanced than I expected it to be.
I hope Occupy Miami can keep it together and stay focused on its rather amorphous message and avoid the violence that has marred other protests. Nonviolence might not make for great PR, but it certainly bolsters the message.