By Michael Howard Saul, Wall Street Journal
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg raised the specter of shutting down a two-week long demonstration on Wall Street, telling protesters who are speaking out against greed and corruption that the banks deserve support.
Asked directly on his weekly radio show Friday whether he will allow the protesters to stay indefinitely, Bloomberg replied, “We’ll see.”
“People have the right to protest, but we also have to make sure that people who don’t want to protest can go down the streets unmolested,” said Bloomberg, a 69-year-old billionaire who earned his personal fortune selling financial information to the business community.
“We have to make sure that while you have a right to say what you want to say, people who want to say something very different have a right to say that as well. That’s what’s great about this country,” Bloomberg added. “The right to protest is part of our culture. It’s also true that there are other societal concerns.”
The Bloomberg administration’s handling of the protest has come under intense criticism. In recent days, the New York Police Department opened an internal investigation into allegations that a supervising officer inappropriately pepper-sprayed a group of people participating this past weekend in the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstration.
In his remarks Friday, Bloomberg suggested that the protesters are terribly misguided in terms of their policy perspective.
“The protesters are protesting against people who make $40 or $50,000 a year and are struggling to make ends meet,” he said. “That’s the bottom line. Those are the people that work on Wall Street and in the finance sector.”
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