-By Zaid Jilani and Brad Johnson
November 23, 2011- Today, the Associated Press (AP) has a story where it estimates the costs of police securing for the various ongoing protest occupations across the country. The AP roughly estimates that these occupations over two months in eighteen major cities cost taxpayers $13 million. Right-wing media outlets are already using this number to claim that the protests are too costly to maintain.
But the AP piece does not provide the neccessary context to put this number into perspective. $13 million for policing of ongoing protests all over the country for two months is not a particularly large sum. For example, the 2004 Republican National Committee protests, which lasted for a single week and took place in a single location, cost $50 million to secure. A small tea party rally in November 2010 that attracted only a few dozen people cost $14,000, paid for by official congressional money.
The cost of securing these protests against economic inequality and political corruption also pales in comparison to one large figure: the wealth destroyed by Wall Street’s recession. The recession caused by Wall Street’s misdeeds destroyed $50 trillion of wealth globally by 2009, $20 trillion of that wealth in the United States alone. ThinkProgress has assembled the following chart to visualize these comparative costs:
None of this invalidates a discussion about the costs of securing the protests, but it does put it in context. Additionally, if the Associated Press wants to probe the costs of the demonstrations, it might also ask why police are using such expensive and heavy-handed tactics against demonstrators.