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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Police vs Protesters (of all sorts)

I've been watching with dismay as peaceful protesters in a large number of our cities across the nation have been pepper sprayed, beaten with batons, shot with tear gas cannisters, knocked down with flash-bang grenades, sprayed with tear gas, shot with rubber bullets, had sound cannons used on them, run over with motor bikes, pushed, kicked, punched, and arrested for walking on public sidewalks, walking in public streets, camping in public parks, being customers of banks, and just generally exercising their rights under the First Amendment to the Constitution.

In addition, they have had their property confiscated and in violation of laws on the books everywhere it has been thrown into garbage trucks, run over with bulldozers, burned, poured water on, deliberately destroyed, or conveniently "lost". These possesions include the usual tents, sleeping gear, clothing and other personal items, but in the larger encampments also include medical supplies and expensive medical equipment, cooking equipment and food with which the Occupy groups are feeding not only themselves but lots of homeless and other food-needy people as well. And at the NYC Occupy, a library of over 5,000 books was apparently destroyed as well.

Mayor Jean Quan of Oakland, California revealed that the massive evictions with all the police brutality were a coordinated effort among many mayors. There were also rumors that there may have been assistance from the Department of Homeland Security as well, although that has not been confirmed.

And so, the question is....what are all these mayors and others so afraid of?

This comment was posted on a story on the excellent blog Crooks and Liars

Eric.Arthur.Blair — 11/24/11 9:01am
A friend of mine told me that he got an e-mail with pictures of people camping out at malls and Best Buys and Wal-Marts and Targets waiting for Black Friday.

What a country! People who camp out on private property to profane a supposedly sacred holiday with naked acquisitiveness, greed and commercialism are not only tolerated, but applauded, while those who camp out in public spaces to protest injustice are beaten, sprayed with chemical weapons and arrested.

Point well taken, and given the events of Black Friday where a shopper resorted to using pepper spray on other shoppers in order to gain access to some desired item, even more appropriate than usual.

But I'd like to go a little farther back - to last year. Remember the dawn of the Tea Party? Where the "protesters" would show up in ridiculous costumes complete with tea bags decorating their hats and shirts, and either loudly claiming to or in some places openly carrying guns? These same protesters making loud threats against the President, members of Congress and Justices of the Supreme Court? These same protesters telling us that if they didn't get their way at the ballot box they would get their way by using 'Second Amendment remedies'? A congressional candidate's assistant (he's now in Congress!) who was literally asking people to take up arms and form an insurrection against the government?

And now I ask you, where were the police in riot gear? Where was the pepper spray? All the arrests? The rubber bullets, the tear gas, the beatings, the confiscations, the massed men in blue?

Yes, they were no where to be seen. All that anti-government stuff from the Tea Parties was ignored by law enforcement. Maybe because the Tea Parties were not really a grass-roots uprising but a bought and paid for operation of the Koch brothers, and all law enforcement and city mayors etc knew it all along.

And that is what really scares them about Occupy. It is not funded by the Kochs or anyone else. History shows us over and over again, that when the income disparity gets to great between the rich and everyone else, when the powerful become too much so and the powerless come to feel their powerlessness too much so, there comes a tipping point. And the powerless and poor decide to rise up. At first it is just a few, and they are individuals. But they begin to gather together. And the groups become larger. Soon they become powerful. And when that happens, the tables get turned. Suddenly the rich and powerful are targets and they lose everything - including their wealth and in most cases, their lives as well. Yes, they are afraid. They should be. They have let their greed run amok. They have taken and taken and taken. They have said that there is never enough for them to acquire - they must always take more. More than their share. And the people from whom that share is taken are to blame for their plight. But deep down they always knew that someday would come the reckoning. That day is here.

Occupy is still small. But it is growing, and the attacks on it by law enforcement at the behest of the city governments is actually helping the movement grow even faster. Each time there is an attack - the watchers are galvanized into action. They see the unfairness of the police with all their weapons against the peaceful protesters and it resonates with them because that is how life feels right now. And the protesters are doing something about it. Finally someone is doing something. The watchers are not alone. So they go join up.

I live in a small town. We have a tiny Occupy group. Our police and mayor have decided to let them be. They are camped on the courthouse lawn. They voluntarily left for Veterans Day so the festivities could take place. When they came back, the encampment was much smaller. But we are also a hard winter place. It is very cold here now. Our Occupy group has a really big tent now - and almost all of them are inside that one tent - much easier to keep warm, and interested people can come in and talk, participate in their GA (General Assembly) and pick up some literature without freezing as well. Who's to say that a raid on this tiny encampment might not help them out? Or not.

Our news media has been on the side of the mayors and law enforcement through the writing of headlines. See if you can spot how the bias operates. "Protesters In Altercation with Police At ..."

When you see that headline it kind of sets up the idea that the protesters started something. The way the headline should have read is "Police Attack Peaceful Protesters At ..." because that is actually what happened.

Kind of changes the perspective, doesn't it?

And finally, there is the discussion about the militarization and terrorist-targeted training of all of our police agencies across the country. But that is a subject for another complete post. For now - the protesters are winning - even though they appear to be losing if you only look at the street battles and who is going to jail.

Interesting note: There have been over 5,000 people jailed in Occupy protests across the country so far. More than were put in jail during all the protests in Iran after their so-called illegal elections, and for which our government imposed sanctions and called for the Iranian government to stop suppressing the protesters rights to criticize their own government and to allow free speech. Very interesting indeed!

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