Bloomberg Backtracks on Occupy Wall Street, Says Protesters Can Stay

After some truly misguided comments about the protests last week, the mayor has backpedaled a little bit.

Bloomberg Backtracks on Occupy Wall Street, Says Protesters Can Stay

It seems like the weekend softened Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s stance on how long Occupy Wall Street can stay, though he still hasn’t shown any actual understanding of what the protests stand for.

Last week, he took to the radio to demonstrate his profound cluelessness about the occupation, claiming the protesters were going after the jobs of working people and accusing them of trying to drive all banks out of the city. He even said that the occupiers are “protesting against people who make $40-50,000 a year and are struggling to make ends meet” and condescended that “everyone’s got a thing they want to protest, some of which is not realistic.”

Some time in the past few days, however, Bloomberg’s First Amendment-loving side pulled ahead of his out-of-touch-billionaire side, at least a little. Having previously been iffy about how long he would allow protesters to stay in Zuccotti Park, he said today that the group can stay indefinitely, as long as they are following the law.

“The bottom line is – people want to express themselves. And as long as they obey the laws, we’ll allow them to,” said Bloomberg. “If they break the laws, then, we’re going to do what we’re supposed to do: enforce the laws.”

His caveat about lawfulness just demonstrates that he still apparently thinks of the demonstrations as dangerous radicals — because it should be obvious and unnecessary to add that particular qualifier. He also said that how long the protests last “has probably to do with the weather,” demonstrating a lack of faith in the occupiers’ dedication.

This all shows he has likely never visited the site, at least not in any real way. Maybe he should. Instead of shooting his mouth off about a protest he clearly does not understand, perhaps he should go down to the park, actually witness what’s happening firsthand and — if anyone will talk to him — ask people why they are there and what they want.

For now, at least, Occupy Wall Street may not have the mayor’s support or understanding, but at least they aren’t being kicked out any time soon.

[Via Wall Street Journal]