The Downward Spiral: Drugs in the Occupy Movements

Occupy Wall Street may be getting the most coverage today, given Mayor Bloomberg’s overnight sweep of Zucotti Park, but those interested in the role of drugs in the Occupy movements may want to keep an eye on the West Coast, where media outlets are all getting “on message” about the “drug problems” in the Occupy encampments.

Memorial for an Overdose Victim, Occupy Vancouver

Our friends at The Fix asked  last week “‘Will Drugs Kill ‘Occupy LA’?”.  Their story may have been a bit breathless for high-minded readers of Points, but it posed key questions about public health and safety that seem to loom larger every day.  (An analogous issue was raised, with combined irony and pathos, in a post to online magazine n+1 about problems managing the Zuccotti Park drum circle— come to think of it, it may not be analogous, it may be the same issue.)  Yesterday, major Canadian news outlets confirmed that a woman found dead in an Occupy Vancouver tent was a victim of an overdose– the second in as many weeks.  Similar public health concerns have been raised about Occupy Portland.  Given that these stories are eerily coincident with police and government official crackdowns, any good social constructionist will be tempted to observe that “the scourge of drugs” is being mobilized as a frame to justify squashing the threatening politics of the movement.

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