It finally happened. After occupying scores of parks and plazas from coast to coast, Occupy Wall Street occupied itself early Friday, crashing a replica of its lower Manhattan camp that was the backdrop for an episode of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit."
Still fuming over the city's destruction of the original Occupy camp in Zuccotti Park last month, protesters said the use of Occupy Wall Street's image by the TV show represented the sort of corporate exploitation the movement is trying to crush. "This is not us," Drew Hornbein of Brooklyn said, the Daily News reported. "We are not part of corporate TV America."
There was no immediate response from NBC, which produces "Law & Order" and which was ordered by police to halt production after about 100 protesters swarmed the perimeter of the set. But the incident was likely to infuriate Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has made it a goal to lure filmmakers and television productions to the city. Just last September, he noted that a record 23 primetime shows, such as "Law & Order: SVU," were being filmed in New York City, part of an industry that supports 100,000 jobs.
"This is where the best television in the world is being made," he said at the time.
That may have been true overnight in Manhattan's Foley Square, though not for the reasons the mayor had in mind. According to local media reports, the action began about midnight Thursday after the fake Occupy Wall Street camp was erected in the plaza, one of the (real) movement's favorite rallying spots. Occupy supporters, some carrying protest signs, made clear they weren't happy with the set, calling it an insult to the movement.
It's not clear if the fake camp included all the staples of the original, from ear-blasting drumming circles to pet rats. But like the real Occupy camp, the TV set featured plenty of stone-faced cops. They eventually called a halt to the production and said the film permit had been rescinded for the time being.
The incident was another example of Occupy Wall Street's ability to remain a thorn in the side of politicians and corporations, weeks after police nationwide began dismantling the camps that had grown in most major cities. In Boston on Friday, a showdown was looming after Occupy Boston protesters ignored a deadline to leave the camp there, while Phoenix police overnight arrested several protesters and began taking down tents at the Occupy Phoenix camp.
And starting next year, Occupy Wall Street will be part of the curriculum at New York University. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the school will offer two classes on the movement, one an undergraduate class and the other a graduate-level seminar.
-- Tina Susman in New York