I want to make an observation about the Occupy Wall Street protests. After viewing too many YouTube videos, reading eyewitness accounts from Occupiers, media reporters and untold number of bloggers, I think that the policies being followed by municipalities like New York, Oakland, Seattle and others, is ill-conceived and lacking vision.
In the overwhelming majority of written and videotaped reports I’ve read and seen, there has not been any provocation by the protesters. Although they may be loud and/or annoying in their chants and calls for economic equality, I have not heard of any attempt by protesters (not including the “black-hoods”, who have tried to invoke violence, but have been dismissed with the help of Occupy protesters), to incite or provoke the police into action. One of my favorite images coming out of the Occupy Movement is this:
If you look at the various videos from the Occupy Oakland “night of terror”, I don’t think there is any doubt about where the violence came from. Further, even after the violence resulted in serious injury to one Marine vet, Scott Olsen, the police continued to attack those who were trying to provide aid, which not only shows proclivity to use the “toys” issued to them, but also a lack of compassion for those they’ve injured. This video will give you a good perspective of where the hate and violence came from in Oakland. I know some will say that the verbal exchanges pushed the police into taking action, but I disagree; the police are thoroughly trained in when to use attack force methods and when to ignore the chants and verbal accusations of protesters. Unfortunately, there are some in the police ranks who do not live up to the training and standards “to protect and serve”…they should be admonished and dismissed from a position of authority, where they have the ability to seriously injure or kill someone! But I’ll let the video speak for itself:
Today, the same attacks erupted in and around Zuccotti Park, just 2 blocks from the center of the financial district of the world, Wall Street. Again, the video says it all, but let me add a couple of items that the video doesn’t show; protesters were unable to remove personal property, 5,000 donated books were destroyed (Nazi Germany, Russian Revolution?), all the equipment that was set up to maintain the encampment was demolished and destroyed. Interestingly, Mayor Bloomberg called for the clearing of the park in order to protect the protesters and prevent anything bad from happening before it occurred. What’s wrong with this picture?
Apparently, a judge in NYC has disagreed with the Mayor and his forced eviction of the protesters from Liberty Park (aka Zuccotti Park). The Judge has issued a restraining order against the city, preventing them from removing the protesters, including their tents and equipment, from the park.
What I think the municipalities that have executed forced evictions and uncalled-for brutality against protesters fails to understand is this: even with thousands of protesters across the country, the Occupy Movement has been peaceful and non-destructive up to this point, at least on the part of the protesters. When those in charge deny the crowds the ability to express their outrage and dissatisfaction with the status quo in a way that is peaceful and non-confrontational, what is the alternative? When anti-war and civil rights protesters in the ’60s & ’70s were confronted by police dogs, water cannon, baton-swirling riot police, what was their alternative? Peaceful demonstrators who are frustrated in their attempts to speak out against a corrupt and greed-driven system, just as those before them who were suppressed by those in authority from speaking out against an unjust war and denial of civil rights, will find other avenues of protest.
For those of us who lived through those previous years, seeing the pain and destruction brought on by uncontrolled police and military forces, we know that suppression breeds increased activism, leading to such tragedies as the Kent State and Jackson State murders. Is that really what city mayors want on their hands?