Shelby County Commissoner Steve Mulroy has become the first well-known public official to enlist in the service of Occupy Memphis, the local version of the Occupy Wall Street movement which has become a national phenomenon.
In several cities — New York, Oakland, and even nearby Nashville among them — local authorities have attempted to uproot Occupy encampments, sometimes violently.
The Memphis encampment on the downtown mall between the buildings housing city, county, federal, and state government has been more tranquil. So far. The commissioner joined that encampment Monday night and intended to stay overnight.
In an interview at an East Memphis restaurant on Sunday night, Mulroy, a Democrat, explained his reasons:
“I want to dramatize my support for the Occupy Memphis movement and the Wall Street movement more nationally.…I think it’s an extremely important cause, and we need to be sure we drum up attention to it.”
And what is that cause?
“I think it’s to dramatize the growing and gross inequality of wealth in this country and undue corporate influence and a lack of attention to the problems of poor folks. These are serious issues everywhere in America, including Memphis, which is one of the poorest metropolitan areas in th3e country and recently revealed to have one of the widest gaps between rich and poor.”
How would his presence serve this cause?
I don’t know. Maybe it won’t. But my hope is it’ll draw attention to the legitimacy of the cause.