Election 2012, Free Speech, Politics, Real Estate, Wall Street

Is Everybody ‘Safe’ From Occupy K Street?

Two months ago, to the day, I wrote that the Occupy Wall Street people would be occupying K Street if they had even the slightest clue about how power is really wielded in this country.

I suppose two months is pretty good turnaround time for a leaderless mob that votes by consensus and uses hand signals to express when something makes them uncomfortable.

Today, the Occupy D.C. movement heads for K Street. And the denizens of Gucci Gulch are terrified!

Well, maybe the lawyers aren’t terrified. People who live and work in D.C. and have a basic understanding of the right to peaceably assemble aren’t overly concerned with the prospect of protesters, though I’m sure they aren’t looking forward to the inconvenience.

But the real estate companies that own the buildings under attack from Occupy K Street, yeah, those people are totally freaking out….

One of our readers came across an email chain where a bunch of real estate managers for buildings on K Street were brainstorming about how to handle the scheduled protests. Wherever you stand on the Occupy movement, these emails illustrate that it is hard work to be an actual flack for the landowning establishment. The first email is from an assistant real estate manager with CBRE Asset Services:

Washington, DC is now becoming a focus point for Occupy-related protests now that other cities have cracked down on the tent cities and the criminal mischief associated with the Occupy movement. Other than frigid Boston, Washington is the only City that continues to allow the Occupy tent cities to continue without disruption….

The key day is Wednesday, December 7th when the group plans to “swarm” from K Street 14th Street to 22nd Street throughout the day. They intend to enter the buildings (and possibly the tenant spaces) of buildings containing lobbying firms, law firms which lobby or represent corporate interests, Buildings housing healthcare tenants, oil tenants, insurance tenants, bank tenants, or drug company tenants would also be targets of this group. In other words, just about every building on K Street is a potential target. Further, I would not rely on the logistics parameters supplied by the protest organizers. If you have a building with tenants in the target groups anywhere in the City, I would take the same precautions that we are suggesting for the K street buildings. In fact, regardless of your tenant base, if your facility is in the vicinity of the protesters, they may enter your building if they cannot get into their buildings of choice and you present an easier target….

Protective Measures: The police have made it clear that their goal is to avoid taking action that will get them sued, even if it means letting the protestors disrupt K Street for the day, and even if building lobbies are invaded by chanting protestors. If things are being broken, and the police actually see the person doing the breaking, an arrest may be made. Otherwise, the protestors in your lobby will be told to leave within a certain period of time, they will be given three warnings during that period of time, and when the time expires, they will be told that they are now subject to arrest if they don’t leave. However, that doesn’t mean that any arrests will actually take place unless a top official gives the green light. The hope is that the protestors will eventually leave on their own, even if your tenants are virtual captives until that happens. I will let you, the readers, form their own opinion on the adequacy of the police department’s tactical plan for protecting your private property and your tenants.

Click through to the next page in case you want to read the full, freaked-out message. Those of your who believe that labor unions are the root of all evil will find the full message particularly satisfying/believable.

I particularly love this woman’s incredulity that the police are actually going to try to avoid violating the rights of the protesters and only arrest people that they witness committing actual crimes. She also doesn’t seem to appreciate what a full-on riot with tear gas and pepper spray will do to the lobbies of these precious buildings, or understand that her tenants can be hit by stray rubber bullets just as much as anybody else.

Whatever, the instinct to Hulk smash people who are inconveniencing you is understandable. It appears that cooler heads are involved in the discussion as well. Here’s a follow-up email from somebody involved with the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District:

Dear Property Managers,

We met with MPD and the National Park Police today during the Property Manager Roundtable and part of our discussion included the K Street protests that are scheduled for tomorrow. Most of the information in the email below is still correct, but we do have some updated information from the meeting today. MPD reports that, according to the protest organizers, the peak protest hours will be between 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM and they currently estimate approximately 2,000 protesters will be in attendance. Protesters are expected to use the sidewalk, but in some cases may spill over into the service lanes. MPD also reported that Farragut Square Park, Franklin Park and 16th and K will be primary locations for the protesters. At the end of the protests, MPD expects protesters to leave the area via Farragut West and McPherson Metro Stations…

We will keep you posted tomorrow as we observe activity in the Golden Triangle.

Good lord. On any given day in D.C. you should be able to find 2,000 people protesting something. If you give me a megaphone, a couple of hours, and some free pizza, I could get 2,000 people together to protest protesting.

It’s D.C.; this kind of stuff happens all of the time. But usually, it’s stupidly directed at the White House or Congress. Usually, it’s 2,000 people with a blood-drenched replica of a baby screaming “abortion is murder” on the Mall who wouldn’t recognize Ruth Bader Ginsburg if she died in their midst.

Today, for like 20 seconds, protesters might be screaming at people who are actually working to frustrate their interests. Today, an Occupy protester might look at a person who profits from the very things they are angry about.

And then, the well-heeled lawyer will shuffle off to his next appointment while the Occupy protester chants something basically incoherent about “the banks” just as a real estate manager screams to a cop: “Gas them, GAS THEM UNTO SILENCE!”

And on Election Day, the country will choose which version of the same crap they prefer. And the world will go on, much as it always has.

Guys in my high school used to become existentially depressed about the dystopian reality that results from the controls placed around us all the time. It was no big deal, and if it was, there was nothing that could be done about it anyway.

(hidden for your protection)

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