First Whitney Houston, Now Occupy Newark

This has been a very bad week for Newark. First, the city loses one of their talents, Whitney Houston. Now, it loses Occupy Newark, one of the strongest voices for poor residents (like Ms.Houston's own family).

In a letter to Occupy Newark organizers this week, Mayor Cory Booker’s administration turned on the local occupiers, writing, "[Y]our organization will be required to remove all individuals and equipment. . . . It has been the pleasure of the Newark Municipal Council to work with your organization in a way not seen in other cities where the Occupy movement has been active." And with that, the Occupy Newark protesters got their final warning from officials to vacate one of the last physical outposts of the movement.

It was just last November Mayor Booker had brought the Newark occupiers coffee and donuts, offering solidarity to the movement. What a difference three months can make.

New Jersey is flying their flags at half-mast for Ms.Houston, an undeniable talent and global superstar. If only the powerful interests in New Jersey could extend their condolances to the struggling families in Newark. Admittedly, Occupy Newark didn’t have more than 60 visitors on average and Ms. Houston is one of the best-selling recording artists of all times. But in a city in such dire straits, this week’s eviction is a reminder that even the political administrations most “in touch” with the needs of the poor, most “sympathetic” to the 99 percent movement, take “pragmatic” stances against the occupiers and their calls for reform and equality. 

Newark has been hurting for years, with an unemployment rate of 9.2 percent and a median income that’s $15,000 lower than the national average. The Occupy Newark movement has focused attention on these challenges and deserves better from Mayor Booker.  

In "Why Occupy Wall Street" Demos stood with the occupy movement’s outcry over the mistreatment of the 99 percent by monied interests. Arguably, nowhere in America are the needs of the 99 percent clearer than in Newark. To see power holders focusing on evicting these protestors is a serious shame and disservice to the real needs of their constituents. I have no problem with paying tribute to the passing one of Newark's pride and joys, it's when the government stiffles advocates for the 99 percent that I take issue.