We remain skeptical about the “Occupy” wherever/whatever movement, here in Maine and around the country. 

What’s the point? What are these people trying to achieve? What’s the end game? Is there, in fact, a point? A goal? An end game?

Whenever the media report that the occupiers’ purpose is unclear, of course, we get a flurry of complaints from their supporters insisting that the protesters’ goals are clear as crystal. OK, but from where we’re sitting, the crystal looks cloudy.

Frankly, we’re inclined to think the apparent vagueness of the movement  eventually will cause it to wilt and fade away, or collapse under the weight of unfulfilled promise. But the far greater danger to the movement’s survival is the ugly turn toward anarchy and violence that has disrupted demonstrations in some parts of the country — most recently, and most disturbingly, in Oakland, Calif. More about that momentarily. 

First, however, we must pause to congratulate participants in the Occupy Maine incarnation of the Occupy Wall Street movement for conducting themselves in a restrained and responsible manner, and for disavowing the turmoil that has cropped up elsewhere.

Protesters encamped in Portland’s Lincoln Park, for example, said last week they have no intention of engaging in violent protest and they reject the notion that violence would be helpful in promoting their cause.

Augusta resident and Lincoln Park occupier Shane Blodgett told a reporter: “It’s very upsetting to see that the people we are fighting for are fighting against us.”

Back to them.

It’s hard to tell from news reports who, or what, provoked the violence in Oakland. It’s seems entirely possible that the troublemakers weren’t part of the protest movement at all, that they were thugs who wanted to fight with police and turn a peaceful demonstration into a riot. 

Oakland, the Associated Press reported, is “a unique place with a long history of tensions between residents and police.”

In New York, where the movement was born, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is reportedly fed up with the protesters and vows that violence won’t be tolerated.

We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. If peaceful protesters such as those in Maine want to make a positive impact with their message, they must guard against being infiltrated by those who harbor less noble motives.

The American people won’t put up with much more of what we saw in Oakland.


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