Austin has been relatively fortunate throughout the so-called Occupy Wall Street protests. We have not witnessed the violence that some cities have, we have had no bodies found in tents. Some arrests have taken place, but generally, the crowd at City Hall has been peaceful. Yet, they are costing taxpayers a good chunk of change, according to today’s Austin American-Statesman. As of November 19, the Austin Police Department has had to spend about $412,000 on costs related to the Occupy Austin protest. From October 6 up through last Thursday, the city of Austin spent over $35,000 on power washing, custodial labor, security, supplies and outside security services.
And it doesn’t look as though the end is in sight. Despite a total lack of coherent message or seeming purpose, Occupy Austin soldiers on – or does it? On the first day of the protest, over 1300 people crowded around city hall, marching and chanting and waving signs. Today, there are few signs, and maybe a couple of dozen people on a given day mill around – doing more of what one might call loitering instead of protesting.
The City of Austin has no plans to kick out the “protesters” at this point, or even do something as simple as suggest they move to the homeless shelter down the road. Protest organizers say there’s no end date in their minds; no plans to move or shut down. They do seem to believe they’ve made some kind of impact, but to this taxpayer, the impact has been outrage at the cost to the rest of us. As callers brought up on KLBJ’s morning show today, what could those police officers standing sentinel at this toothless “protest” be doing instead? How does a budget-crunched city come to justify the expenses brought to bear as a direct result of this flawed event?
If this is what Occupy has cost just the city of Austin, I wonder – what will the total cost to local government be nationwide before this is over? In cities where rioting has broken out, where people have been found dead? Or, even more disturbing, what will the total human cost be – in those cities where rapists, child predators, and other such criminals have made the Occupy protests their hunting grounds?
It is past time for Occupy to pack up and go home. Austin taxpayers, like taxpayers everywhere, should be demanding it. We’re the ones footing the bill for this increasingly pointless “protest.”