They can take away the tarps and the tents. But they can’t slow down the Occupy Wall Street movement. [...]
The Occupy Wall Street movement has been committed to peaceful, nonviolent action from its inception. And it will keep spreading no matter what elected officials tell police to do. But that doesn’t mean these raids are acceptable. In fact, they are inexcusable.
As former Secretary of State Colin Powell put it, these protests are “as American as apple pie.” Americans must be allowed to speak out against pervasive inequality, even if the truth discomfits the 1%.
The AFL-CIO will do everything in our power to make sure the free speech rights of these peaceful protesters are protected.
The Communications Workers of America have also issued a statement:
"The Communications Workers of America strongly condemns the decision by Mayor Bloomberg to forcibly remove protesters from Zuccotti park. In two short months, Occupy Wall Street has focused the world's attention on the deep frustration felt by working people about an economy that no longer works for the middle class. The 99% have seen good jobs disappear while the rich get richer and the big banks make billions with impunity. Mayor Bloomberg may have cleared the park for now, but Occupy Wall Street's message cannot be silenced. No one can evict an idea whose time has come.
Greg Sargent observes, correctly, that Trumka and the AFL-CIO are defying a "Conventional wisdom [that] has it that mounting incidents of violence and outsized tactics will put pressure on institutional liberal groups and Dems to edge away from Occcupy Wall Street." The same defiance is obviously true of the CWA, which has been joined by Occupy protesters in its efforts to pressure Verizon and which currently has a dozen members marching from Albany to Manhattan to join Thursday's planned day of action.
We've been tracking the growth of cooperation and exchange between unions and Occupy Wall Street. Early on, there was some skepticism, at least in the media, that unions would be committed to Occupy Wall Street in adversity, and reporting that highlighted tensions between the two. These statements make clear, though, the degree to which unions are embracing not just the movement's message but its right to sustained, peaceful public protest.
12:51 PM PT: In an emailed statement:
The United Auto Workers, an early endorser of the Occupy Wall Street movement, today condemned Mayor Michael Bloomberg's overnight raid on the Occupy Wall Street protesters in lower Manhattan.
"The right to protest and free assembly are sacrosanct in our country," said UAW President Bob King. "Mayor Bloomberg has been publicly critical of raising taxes on the 1 percent and the message of Occupy Wall Street. The manner in which this raid was carried out can only lead one to believe that the mayor was doing the bidding of Wall Street once again."