#OccupyWallStreet 2011 and Kent State Ohio 1970: Is This Really Deja Vu?
November 18, 2011
Once again, this blog has been subjected to abusive ridicule for stating our opinion on a controversial subject.
In early 2011, we compared the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt to the Madison, Wisconsin statehouse occupation only to be disparaged as "incredibly moronic" and "absolutely dumbfounding" among other choice phrases.
Cairo, Egypt - February 1, 2011
Later, we went into the disparity in treatment between whistleblower PFC Bradley Manning and the treason of Colonel Oliver North. Again, a volley of derision in comments.
Oliver North & Bradley Manning
Which brings us to this moment and the #OccupyWallStreet Movement.
November 15, 2011
After peaceful, non-violent Occupy Wall Street citizens were cleared under orders of New York City Mayor Bloomberg from Liberty Plaza - effectively suspending Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Speech & Freedom of Press - we blogged Tin Soldiers & Mayor Bloomberg Coming on what seemed to us to be obvious parallels to Kent State.
Surprisingly -- or maybe not so surprisingly -- not all saw it that way.
In a followup blog post Occupy: From 1970 to 2011 we attempted to clearly point out the similarities:
- Mass student unrest due to unpopular government actions
- disproportionate use of force on peaceful, non-violent citizens by a heavily para-militarized domestic police force
- unequal application of the rule of the law between underclass and elite
- a huge trust gap between electorate and elected officials
- suspension of key articles in the Bill of Rights: Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Speech & Freedom of Press
- the use of propaganda and provocateurs to discredit the people's movements
November 17, 2011
Day of Direct Action
70 Seconds Before Kent State Shootings
May 4, 1970 @ 12:24 PM
The Truth About The Kent State Massacre
Which brings us to #OccupyWallStreet 2011 and Kent State Ohio 1970: Is This Really Deja Vu all over again?
Long time journalist Greg Mitchell at The Nation agrees:
"12:20 - UC-Davis chancellor, who makes over $400,000 a year, getting bombarded with protest mail and calls after the notorious pepper-spraying incident (see TWO videos below). The cop has been IDed also. Now, no one was killed, though some injured, in this case, but it does make me recall what happened after Kent State -- when I helped organize a complete campus shutdown at my college -- just one of hundreds where that happened. Can't say same thing will happen now but UC-Davis incident just latest in string of such. In fact, demonstration there was called to protest brutality at Berkeley!"
Four Separate Angles Showing The Truth of What Really Happened at UC-Davis
And today's controversial opinion UC Davis pepper-spraying raises questions about role of police | The Washington Post by Philip Kennicott:
It looks as though he’s spraying weeds in the garden or coating the oven with caustic cleanser.
It’s not just the casual, dispassionate manner in which the University of California at Davis police officer pepper-sprays a line of passive students sitting on the ground. It’s the way the can becomes merely a tool, an implement that diminishes the humanity of the students and widens a terrifying gulf between the police and the people whom they are entrusted to protect.
The clip probably will be the defining imagery of the Occupy movement, rivaling in symbolic power, if not in actual violence, images from the Kent State shootings more than 40 years ago.
The police officer emerges from the margins of the scene, walks in front of a line of students on the ground with arms interlaced, and brandishes the can briefly in a gesture that feels both bored and theatrical, like someone on a low-budget television commercial displaying a miracle product or a magician holding the flowers he is about make disappear. He then proceeds to spray a thick stream of orange liquid into their faces. The crowd surrounding the students erupts in cries of “shame, shame,” questioning the police about whom they are protecting.
The spraying is slow and deliberate, one face after another, down the line. It is the multiple victims that makes it so chilling, recalling the mechanization of violence during the 20th century. Pepper spray, of course, isn’t meant to be lethal, and it was deployed during an effort to enforce university policy rather than a state-sanctioned campaign of violence. But the apparent absence of empathy from the police officer, applying a toxic chemical to humans as if they were garden pests, is shocking. Even more so because it is a university police officer.
Even if it is determined that the police followed proper procedures, the video might have lasting power for outrage, tapping into growing concerns not that police are abusing standard policies, but that our policies might need to be revised. Indeed, the disjunction between how the UC-Davis police read this video (they see an officer doing his job) and how many others read this video (they see a man in a uniform causing great and unnecessary pain to unresisting students) indicates that we have reached a kind of intellectual impasse about what kind of police we want and what limits should be placed on their power.
The UC-Davis video might open up a broader conversation about the proper role of the police, especially during an era in which it appears that protest against the established order may be more frequent and widespread. This new era of protest, if it continues to develop, will play out on the Internet, with rapidly uploaded videos providing not just evidence of what happens, but evidence from numerous perspectives, as each encounter is recorded by dozens of onlookers and participants.
Finally, as Glenn Greenwald blogs so forcefully:
Despite all the rights of free speech and assembly flamboyantly guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, the reality is that punishing the exercise of those rights with police force and state violence has been the reflexive response in America for quite some time. As Franke-Ruta put it, “America has a very long history of protests that meet with excessive or violent response, most vividly recorded in the second half of the 20th century.”
The intent and effect of such abuse is that it renders those guaranteed freedoms meaningless.
If a population becomes bullied or intimidated out of exercising rights offered on paper, those rights effectively cease to exist. Every time the citizenry watches peaceful protesters getting pepper-sprayed — or hears that an Occupy protester suffered brain damage and almost died after being shot in the skull with a rubber bullet — many become increasingly fearful of participating in this citizen movement, and also become fearful in general of exercising their rights in a way that is bothersome or threatening to those in power. That’s a natural response, and it’s exactly what the climate of fear imposed by all abusive police state actions is intended to achieve: to coerce citizens to “decide” on their own to be passive and compliant — to refrain from exercising their rights — out of fear of what will happen if they don’t.
The genius of this approach is how insidious its effects are: because the rights continue to be offered on paper, the citizenry continues to believe it is free.
They believe that they are free to do everything they choose to do, because they have been “persuaded” — through fear and intimidation — to passively accept the status quo. As Rosa Luxemburg so perfectly put it: “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.” Someone who sits at home and never protests or effectively challenges power factions will not realize that their rights of speech and assembly have been effectively eroded because they never seek to exercise those rights; it’s only when we see steadfast, courageous resistance from the likes of these UC-Davis students is this erosion of rights manifest.
Pervasive police abuses and intimidation tactics applied to peaceful protesters — pepper-spray, assault rifles, tasers, tear gas and the rest — not only harm their victims but also the relationship of the citizenry to the government and the set of core political rights.
Implanting fear of authorities in the heart of the citizenry is a far more effective means of tyranny than overtly denying rights. That’s exactly what incidents like this are intended to achieve.
Overzealous prosecution of those who engage in peaceful political protest (which we’ve seen more and more of over the last several years) as well as rampant secrecy and the sprawling Surveillance State are the close cousins of excessive police force in both intent and effect: they are all about deterring meaningful challenges to those in power through the exercise of basic rights.
Rights are so much more effectively destroyed by bullying a citizenry out of wanting to exercise them than any other means.
#OccupyWallStreet in NYC
“Military Madness is Killing Our Country"
Nov 8, 2011
Photo by Sandi Bachom
Either you are a rebel or a slave.
Freedom ... For What It's Worth and FREEDOM In A New Year.
"First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me."
~~Rev. Martin Niemoller, 1945
So, how's that freedom thing working out for you in a new year?
A Day 1 99%'er @ Occupy Wall St.
There’s something happening here.
What it is ain’t exactly clear.
we have all been here before,
we have all been here before,
we have all been here before
Also, freedom, music and occupations:
- Neil Young Ohio Lyric Analysis
- Crosby & Nash: Live at Occupy Wall Street
- The Truth About The Kent State Massacre
- Tin Soldiers & Mayor Bloomberg Coming
- Occupy: From 1970 to 2011
- American Dream: How could something so good, go bad, so fast?
- American Dream: From 1988 To 2011
- The Answer is Blowin' in the Wind My Friends
- Ohio and Freedom