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St. Louis Mayor Plays Into Hands of Occupiers

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Slay to Kiener Plaza protesters: Move along!
On Friday, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said the Occupy St. Louis protesters must vacate Kiener Plaza, the downtown park where they've camped out now for over a month. In so doing, Slay gave the occupiers something their movement desperately needs: a solitary issue to rally around.

Almost as soon as Slay made the announcement on his blog, about 60 Occupy St. Louis protesters marched to City Hall. And while they may not all agree about what exactly it is they're protesting in Kiener Plaza, they were united in their solitary message to Slay: They're not vacating the park. No siree.

Until now, we here at Daily RFT have been pretty impressed with the city's handling of the Occupy movement.

Sure, there were a few arrests early on, but since then the police department and city officials have pretty much turned the other way in allowing the movement to break the city's curfew law for public parks.

Slay notes in his blog post that the city even made a permit for Occupy St. Louis members to use the park, but the movement rejected it. He doesn't add that that permit (viewable here) also prohibited them from camping (ie. "occupying" the park) and required them to come up with $300,000 in liability insurance to stage their protests.

That's absurd. But not as ridiculous as telling them to leave -- or else.

Now, instead of letting the protest die of its own accord -- which was almost guaranteed given the oncoming winter and a growing disinterest in the movement from the media and the general public -- Occupy St. Louis has a chance to make a name for itself on the national stage.

In most other cities, it's only been when police and bureaucrats have attempted to forcibly remove the occupiers from public parks that their demonstrations have made news. Look for the same to happen here in St. Louis and for Francis Slay to soon regret his decision.


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