Time magazine has a piece on how Hurricane Sandy fundamentally changed the relationship between Occupy Wall Street and New York City government, thanks to the fact that Bloomberg et al have relied so heavily on OWS offshoot Occupy Sandy to keep citizens alive in the weeks after the storm.
It’s a great story that lays out why the City needs Occupy. But what it doesn’t touch on much is the fact that Occupy in many ways needs the city, too; and that some of the best moments in the relief effort have come when the city has provided resources that the grassroots movement will never have. Sometimes this came in the form of giving Occupy Sandy resources to push out through its massive grassroots distribution network; and sometimes it came in the form of police officers and the National Guard providing security at sites where the group had set up donation centers.
If this truce only lasts as long as the hurricane clean up effort, then not only will NYC government continue to have a gaping hole in its emergency response plan, Occupy will have missed an opportunity to influence, in a more permanent way, how the city treats citizens. Certainly Occupy has shown that there’s a faster, more humane way to help people in need. The group can continue to push that agenda as a band of outsiders, but a seat at the table can be a very powerful thing.