Mayor Bloomberg strongly believes in evolution, and to that end the NY Times tracks his evolving reactions on Occupy Wall Street today, hitting the nail on the head in summing up his bipolar personality when it comes to dealing with the occupiers at Zuccotti Park:
Bloomberg’s evolving response to the protest has come to embody a central tension in his third term, between his celebration of free, and at times cacophonous, speech as a hallmark of New York, and his emphasis on bolstering the city’s economy by improving its appeal to residents, employers and tourists.
After a particularly harsh week of rhetoric, in which he called protesters handling of an alleged rape suspect "despicable" and said OWS is "really hurting small businesses and families," Mayor Bloomberg was back on the free speech train yesterday, defending the right to protest in the face of increasing complaints about noise and sanitation in the neighborhood: “There is no easy answer. But there is a right answer, and the right answer is allow people to protest, but at the same time enforce public safety, provide public safety and quality-of-life issues, and we will continue to do that.”
Not that Bloomberg has gone all soft on us just yet: this morning on his weekly radio show, he vowed to not let OWS become like Oakland, and said the city wouldn’t tolerate illegal behavior, including public urination: “People have the right to protest; they don’t have a right to destroy a neighborhood. Anybody that thinks we’re going to tolerate behavior that’s not protected is wrong.”
The NYPost—whose contempt for OWS has grown exponentially over the weeks of protest, blossoming into a series of cranky editorials—weren't happy with yesterday's free speech-friendly quote, demanding Bloomberg, "Send in the NYPD to lance the Zuccotti Park boil." After all, the First Amendment doesn't "protect people's right to poop on the sidewalk"...although a certain Insult Comic Dog might disagree strongly.