Monday, November 21, 2011

For What It's Worth

I am very disturbed by the video coming out the Occupy movements.

It is not the Occupiers who disturb me in the video. It is the police actions against them that I find most distressing.

The videos of police spraying pepper spray on students who blocking sidewalks at Davis in California is particularly troubling. You can see a short video here and a longer video here. The longer video gives a clearer picture of what was really going on, the relative passivity of the students, and the police actions.

The students and faculty at Davis have called for the resignation of their chancellor. I have no idea if that is appropriate or not; they will have to decide that.

The chancellor took a very long walk down a quiet path on the night of the pepper spraying. A video of that is here. Well worth watching.

If students are raping and beating people, by all means, arrest them. If they're congregating on the sidewalk, that's pretty harmless. It doesn't warrant violence.

Of course I am not there, I can only go by why I've seen and read, but from all indications, there was no need for pepper spray. As far as I'm concerned, the police could have sat down and waited out the students a while. There is never a need for violence against unarmed citizens. We are supposed to be above this in a civilized country.

Are we a civilized country? I'm starting to worry and wonder.

These are not "left" and "right" issues. Regardless of what "side" you're on politically, the process is flawed. Capitalism is not democracy and it does not equal democracy, and the sooner people realize that, the better off we will all be. Purchased votes in Congress do not, by any stretch of the imagination, create an equal playing field for anyone. This is part of what the Occupy movement is about.

One thing to note is that US media is not mentioning is that these Occupy movements are taking place in other parts of the world right now, including England and other areas of Europe. The unrest is great. It's like someone turned a switch.

You might also want to read some other articles about this and related issues. I guarantee you that unless you're looking at multiple news sources, you are not getting the full story.

Check out:

Supercommittee Failure One Reason Why Occupiers are Marching

Occupy Wall Street at a Tipping Point

The Turning Point: The Moral Example of UC Davis Students

An article about police beating up poets at Occupy Berkley

A UC Davis student's story

Davis Police Officer is honored US Marine

Campus Police Chief put on Leave

Exploiting Consumers is the Purpose of Banks

Right-wing journalists beaten by police; assisted by Occupiers

White House Shooter NOT with Occupy Movement

175 arrested in protests on day after Zuccoti Park cleared

Occupy Movement Not Capturing Americans' Attention

And a little 1960s mood music:

For What it's Worth - Buffalo Springfield (Stop, hey, what's that sound, everybody look what's going down)


  1. We do not have any satellite or cable service so I have only heard bits 'n pieces about the Occupy movement. But, you're right. If the students are harmlessly gathering than there should not be any need for such police tactics. My opinion, sometimes they get a little needlessly carried away with the 'power' of their position.

  2. Couldn't agree more...

  3. I find this all disturbing as well. Occasionally you'll also see senior citizens taking part in the protests, getting pepper sprayed and otherwise treated roughly, even though they're being very passive. I wonder how those police officers sleep at night.

    The major media outlets keep saying the Occupy movement "has no clear message," but I don't understand what's unclear about it at all.

  4. First, ABC World News with Diane Sawyer has mentioned the international "Occupy" movements several times, including events in the UK, Germany, Italy (where there have been huge riots), and Australia.

    Second, I too am deeply disturbed by the amount of violent police action at what are supposed to be peaceful demonstrations. I think it important to note that here, in the city and state that inspired the current labor movement and, ultimately, the "Occupy" protests, there has been no violence, and no arrests. And believe me, now that the recall Scott Walker movement is officially underway, the crowds are growing exponentially again (30,000 on the Cap Square just this past weekend!).

    I think what makes a difference is that, though there has been a strong police presence at the rallies here in Madison going back to February, they are there mainly to keep an eye on the crowd, and stop any trouble before it happens. They are NOT there to confront. In fact, people attending the protests on the Cap Square report that police are friendly, courteous, and supportive of the people demonstrating there (afterall, we are representing them too).

    I think it also helps that, when the rallies here started to swell to thousands, some 100 volunteers -- every day average citizens attending and helping to organize the various events -- were trained in crowd control and how to deal with counter-protestors and agitators.

    I feel that if the police in other cities across the country (and around the world) would leave the crowds to themselves, just stand back and let them be, we not be seeing the out-of-control riots and rampant violence we have seen.

    Do not confront, do not try to force people who are behaving peacefully to leave, and do not assault them with pepper spray, tear gas, or non-lethal bullets. As we have seen, that is only going to result in rioting, injuries and arrests.

  5. Well said, Bluesong, and excellent comments from Heather, too. Madison is an inspiration.

    I think police violence serves the one per cent very well. On the one hand, it intimidates people and deters them from joining the protests. They don't want to be kettled or pepper sprayed or beaten about the head or shot with rubber bullets for the "crime" of having turned up to express an opinon. On the other hand, for those inclined always to support the police, the authorities and the status quo, the violence is readily interpreted as provoked by the protestors. Given the dominance of corporate owned news media and the ideological bias of many journalists who are beholden to the one per cent, the impression can easily be given that protestors are just mindless criminals and so their supposedly "incoherent" arguments can be dismissed. What we are seeing is cynical manipulation of images and assumptions to try to stop support for the protestors growing. We can only hope it will fail, as it did when Gandhi peacefully confronted the British in India.

  6. 'In total agreement here, Anita. I'm old enough to remember the televised protests of students in Chicago against the Vietnam War. The police were beating them with clubs. I cried.


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