“How many sidewalks are you going to close before we are all gone?” News of the Occupy Movement Week Ending 11-13-11

by on November 13, 2011 · 10 comments

in Anna's Video Pick, Civil Disobedience, Civil Rights, San Diego

This week’s story is the utter appalling hypocrisy exposed in how the police responded to two protests on November 9.  The first took place at Cal Berkeley, where a thousand students protested the steep hikes in student tuition and the ongoing administrative tilt toward privatization.  They attempted to establish an occupation on the campus with tents.  The police viciously lunged with their batons at students who had linked arms.  There were 39 arrests that day and no one knows how many of these young people are still walking around with welts on their body from that barbaric attack.  As a post script, we now know that linking arms is a form of violence that justified the police response.

That same evening at Penn State hundreds of Joe Paterno’s loyal supporters turned out in the streets.  Their revered coach had been fired that day for his alleged cover up of the alleged serial rapes of children by an assistant coach.  The scene turned to one of mayhem  when some of the supporters “overturned a media truck, hit an ESPN reporter in the head with a rock and made every effort at arson…” There were no arrests.  You read that right.  The police used pepper spray and mace, but there were no verified arrests that night.

The list of arrests and or evictions at Occupy encampments including Denver, St. Louis, Portland, Salt Lake City, Youngstown, Albany, Berkeley and San Diego are a stark contrast to both the nature of the riot at Penn State and the police response there.  Are we going to shrug off the Penn state incident as boys being boys in their allegiance to our national sport/religion while at the same time viewing Occupy Wall Street as some kind of vague but scary domestic terrorist threat that needs to be nipped in the bud with police batons and rubber bullets and canisters of tear gas?  Have we lost our collective minds and sense of moral decency and justice?

Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi recently posted “Politics: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the OWS Protests.” The entire article is worth reading and his thoughts on the police response to the Occupy movement are timely.

And here’s one more thing I was wrong about: I originally was very uncomfortable with the way the protesters were focusing on the NYPD as symbols of the system. After all, I thought, these are just working-class guys from the Bronx and Staten Island who have never seen the inside of a Wall Street investment firm, much less had anything to do with the corruption of our financial system.

Someone's grandma arrested in NYC

But I was wrong. The police in their own way are symbols of the problem. All over the country, thousands of armed cops have been deployed to stand around and surveil and even assault the polite crowds of Occupy protesters. This deployment of law-enforcement resources already dwarfs the amount of money and manpower that the government “committed” to fighting crime and corruption during the financial crisis. One OWS protester steps in the wrong place, and she immediately has police roping her off  like wayward cattle. But in the skyscrapers above the protests, anything goes.

This is a profound statement about who law enforcement works for in this country. What happened on Wall Street over the past decade was an unparalleled crime wave. Yet at most, maybe 1,500 federal agents were policing that beat – and that little group of financial cops barely made any cases at all. Yet when thousands of ordinary people hit the streets with the express purpose of obeying the law and demonstrating their patriotism through peaceful protest, the police response is immediate and massive. There have already been hundreds of arrests, which is hundreds more than we ever saw during the years when Wall Street bankers were stealing billions of dollars from retirees and mutual-fund holders and carpenters unions through the mass sales of fraudulent mortgage-backed securities.

The police surveillance and assaults of Occupy protesters must stop.  They must stop now before we lose the last vestiges of our already shredded democracy.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

danny morales November 13, 2011 at 10:22 pm

…as the class conflict sharpens in this country get ready for more vilification of those at the point of capitalist exploitation. The question remains, ‘Which side are you on?’. Try to remain calm while remembering that violent revolutions come about from an ever increasing violent repression of peaceful protests. Entonces, Hasta la Victoria, Siempre! 8<p


Goatskull November 14, 2011 at 8:32 am

About a month ago I was listening to KPBS in my car about a whistle blowing cop NYPD) who was secretly taping the goings on of his precinct. It turns out (not surprisingly in the least) that there are arrest and ticket quotas. While this has nothing to do with the OWS movement, it does show that corruption in the NYPD is rampant and largely accepted. The few good cops don’t stay around long. I tried searching it in NPRs website and can’t seem to find it but here is a link to all kinds of corruption stories. Sadly, if one is going to take part in OWS (in New York any way) than that individual is going to have to do it knowing there’s risk involved (physical assault, arrest etc) and be willing to deal with aftermath ie loss of job, medical bills he/she may not be able to pay for . While the individuals who comprise NYPD may in fact be simple working class people, most of them are not good people. They don’t to shits about other people and seem to even get an enjoyment out of ruining lives. I know all cops are not like this but too many are.



Goatskull November 14, 2011 at 8:35 am

OK this isn’t the actuall broadcast I was talking about but it’s a related story.


Steve Smith November 14, 2011 at 9:15 am

Here is a NYTimes article about ‘hundreds of off duty NY police officers applauding their colleagues who are on trial for fixing tickets for their friends and family and other crimes.

The herd mentality sometimes thinks it’s only natural to “cut corners” with the law, everybody else does it, especially the 1% who buy their way out of everything.


Goatskull November 14, 2011 at 9:49 am

I would definitely hate to be one of the protesters involved in this who might finds themselves getting pulled over by one of these distraught cops. If this is ugly now, just wait.


Goatskull November 14, 2011 at 9:51 am

Oops, I meant prosecutors, not protesters.


mike turco November 14, 2011 at 9:44 am

This morning on CNBC warren buffett said class warfare is being waged by the rich against the poor and their army are the lobbyists who descend on D.C.


Steve Smith November 14, 2011 at 10:41 am

Having a hard time resolving how I feel about Warren Buffet. He is played up in the MSM as an atypical billionaire. Yes, he speaks wisdom and caring about reforming the tax code. Still, he buys into corporate America big time. Isn’t he not only an enabler of the sins that are abounding up there in those ivory towers, but also in the forefront of what we are complaining about?

How does he feel about getting money out of the electoral system? Would he agree to dismantling the Citizens United supreme court decision?

If anyone here is on speaking terms with him, let us know.


Anna Daniels November 14, 2011 at 10:45 pm

Alert! A surprise “temporary” eviction happening now at OWS in Liberty/Zuccotti Park.
1:30 am in NY.
Live coverage here http://www.livestream.com/occupynyc


Frank Gormlie November 14, 2011 at 11:03 pm

See our most recent post – now up – about the NYPD raid at 1 am EST – and tomorrow was/ is supposed to be a big day ! Perhaps nipped in the bud.


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