Although Congressman Jerry Nadler, New York Democrat, represents the residents in the Wall Street area of Manhattan, he is defending protesters who are occupying Zuccoti Park in New York’s financial distict and telling his constituents to just suck it up and deal with the inconveniences the protesters have brought to the neighborhood. The “occupy” demonstrations first launched in his district last month.
Listen to Rep. Nadler
“Any prolonged demonstration is always going to have some local friction. The main thing is what’s going on. This is a national issue not a neighborhood issue,” Rep. Nadler told me on Tuesday night, when I asked him about the concerns his constituents were citing about the protesters in his district.
The New York Times and other media outlets reported last week that businesses and residents in Mr. Nadler’s district were dealing with daily disturbances and property damage as a result of Wall Street protesters, a number of whom do not likely live or work in the Congressman’s district on the west side of Manhattan. :(Bolding is mine)
Panini and Company Cafe normally sells sandwiches to tourists in Lower Manhattan and the residents nearby, but in recent days its owner, Stacey Tzortzatos, has also become something of a restroom monitor. Protesters from Occupy Wall Street, who are encamped in a nearby park, have been tromping in by the scores, and not because they are hungry.
Ms. Tzortzatos’s tolerance for the newcomers finally vanished when the sink was broken and fell to the floor. She installed a $200 lock on the bathroom to thwart nonpaying customers, angering the protesters.
“I’m looked at as the enemy of the people,” she said. The anticorporate participants in Occupy Wall Street, which began three weeks ago, say they have no intention of leaving soon. The protest has been building in size, with sister demonstrations erupting in other cities, and politicians, labor leaders and celebrities adding their support. But for many neighborhood businesses, the protest’s end cannot come soon enough. In interviews, business owners said they were especially annoyed that the organizers of the grass-roots movement neglected to include portable toilets in their plan to bring down Wall Street.
Residents, too, say they are losing patience. Mothers have grown weary of navigating strollers through the maze of barricades that have sprouted along the streets. Toddlers have been roused from sleep just after bedtime by chanting and pounding drums.
Heather Amato, 35, a psychologist who lives near the protest area, said she felt disturbed by some of the conduct of the protesters. She said she had to shield her toddler from the sight of women at the park dancing topless. “It’s been three weeks now,” Ms. Amato said. “Enough is enough.”
Local politicians have expressed sympathy for the residents’ complaints, even as they try to avoid offending the protesters. The speaker of the State Assembly, Sheldon Silver, a Democrat whose district includes Zuccotti Park, the site of the protests, said on Wednesday that the neighborhood had been burdened enough by the protesters’ takeover of one of the few parks in the area.
“I would suggest that they move their message to other parts of the city and state,” Mr. Silver said. Zuccotti Park is privately owned but open to the public. Melissa Coley, a spokeswoman for Brookfield Office Properties, which owns the park, said in a statement that sanitation conditions had reached “unacceptable levels.”
The NY Times piece also describes other businesses placed locks on their bathroom doors after experiencing both damage and theft they suspect are a result from protesters who were using their facilities.
“I think businesses are being damaged a hell of a lot more by our stupid economic policies and all of us have to live with expressions of democratic demonstrations or whatever,” Representative Nadler said in response to these businesses in his district.
Rep. Nadler also went after the New York City Police Department’s handling of the demonstrators saying, “And of course you also have the problem that the police improperly staged a little riot of their own, which we are going to have investigated.”
The NYPD arrested over 700 demonstrators when they attempted to march across the Brooklyn Bridge via the road instead of the pedestrian pathway almost two weeks ago. Protesters also broke through police barricades at Zucotti Park last Wednesday and police made further arrests at that point. Another report from a British Daily showed one protester defecating on a New York City Police cruiser.
“The major issue here is the subject of what they’re demonstrating about and the expression of discontent that’s rising across the country,” Congressman Nadler said. Rep. Nadler refused to comment about the sanitation problems the protesters in Zucotti Park are reportedly causing as well, waving off my question on the issue as he left to go vote on the floor.
New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg is counting on mother nature to thin out the the protest crowd on Wall Street and told reporters that the protesters could stay in Zucotti Park indefinitely, which makes one wonder who is really on the side of the people who live, work, and pay taxes in the Wall Street area…apparently not their representatives.