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PD Editorial: Occupy Santa Rosa needs to deal or strike tents

  • The Santa Rosa Occupy encampment at City Hall in Santa Rosa, Tuesday Nov. 8, 2011 along Santa Rosa Avenue, bottom right. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2011

It's time for the denizens of the Occupy Santa Rosa encampment to choose.

Are they making a statement about the growing chasm between the rich and everyone else? About the political clout wielded by Wall Street banks? About elected officials catering to wealthy campaign donors?

Or do they just want the freedom to pee on trees?

The choice is really that simple, and if the demonstrators can't decide by today, the City Council can't be blamed for evicting them from the City Hall lawn.

The tents on the lawn are evidence of public sympathy for the Occupy movement, which has spread across the country and around the world.

Occupy has focused national attention on foreclosures, unemployment and an economic system that has allowed the top 1 percent to prosper despite the worst downturn since the Great Depression. The Occupy movement has a chance to set the agenda for the 2012 campaign much as the tea party set the agenda in 2010.

But the Santa Rosa City Council isn't the source of these disparities, and creating a public nuisance outside City Hall won't change economic policy or amplify the message of the local demonstrators.

The fact is city officials have gone out of their way up to now to accommodate them.

After demonstrators turned their daily protests into a round-the-clock encampment about two weeks ago, the council rejected a staff request to evict them and temporarily waived the city's no-camping ordinance.

But the council wanted a show of good faith in return, asking the demonstrators to obtain permits and establish guidelines for safety and sanitation at the encampment.

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