Occupy Protests Across the Country Take Toll on City Budgets
Occupy protests may deprive cities of funds for other services.
Nov. 18, 2011 — -- It's unclear what the Occupy protests have accomplished, but police have received a bonanza of overtime, making up a large part of at least $10.3 million in costs incurred by nine cities since the protesters began gathering near Wall Street two months ago.
Occupy Wall Street catalyzed dozens, if not hundreds, of protests across the world. New York City alone has spent about $6 million on costs related to Occupy Wall Street, not including the eviction on Tuesday, according to Howard Wolfson, the mayor's deputy for government relations.
Philadelphia racked up $492,000 in unanticipated police overtime through last week, according to Rebecca Rhynhart, budget director. Rhynhart said the city is estimating that costs could reach $2.5 million if the protest lasts through the fiscal year, or June 30.
"It's an unanticipated expense but we're managing it," Rhynhart said. The city has a budget of $3.5 billion. "In order to pay for it, there's less money for other things. "
Oakland spent over $1 million to pay police overtime, according to the Washington Post.
Portland estimated $750,000 so far for police overtime and damage related to its parks has cost $50,000 to $100,000, according to Amy Ruiz, communications directorfor Mayor Sam Adams.
In Seattle, protests will cost $625,999 from the week that ended in Oct. 14 to the end of Nov. 25. The largest chunk goes to overtime for Seattle police: $580,468.
The extra costs to Seattle's parks comprise $21,471 of the total and the department of finance and administrative services, which just gave protesters permission for a permit to use part of city hall's plaza on Tuesday, made up the rest at $24,060.
The Boston police department estimated overtime costs in regards to the Occupy Boston movement to be about $575,000 so far, according to Elaine Driscoll director of communications of the department.
In Atlanta, protests cost $451,691 from Oct. 7 to 25, with almost three-quarters going to overtime to police, said Mayor Kasim Reed on Nov. 2.
Occupy Atlanta released a statement that week in response.
"Today we were all dismayed by Mayor Kasim Reed's claim that our nonviolent demonstration against corporate greed and economic inequities cost the city over $400,000. This is, of course, a factual error," according to the statement in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The group said the mayor "spent the people's money on an extreme excessive police presence that rivals any big-budget Hollywood production to manage several hundred peaceful demonstrators that wanted nothing more than public space to assemble and air grievances."
Occupy Denver led to overtime for various city departments during five days of protest in October at about $365,000, said the safety manager's office, according to the Denver Post.
The protests are estimated to cost $200,000 a week for the rest of the year. This week, the police department asked for an increase of $6 million in its budget, "citing Occupy as a small but unspecified portion of the cost," the Post reported.
Cincinnati has spent about $128,000 in police overtime, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer last week.