Sunday, December 4, 2011

Thoughts on Occupy Wall Street

It’s been a while since I last wrote, but that’s what happens when life gets in the way. A lot has happened in the last few months, from the fall of Libyan dictator Gadhafi to the joke that is the Republican field of presidential candidates, with the news of the pizza man Herman Cain suspending his campaign yesterday. However, there seems to be a story that takes precedence over all of this, Occupy Wall Street and the 99% movement.

Occupy Wall Street started on September 7 and has been going for 78 straight days. While the protestors will say they have no specific goals, they are protesting corporate greed and corporate welfare. They are protesting against the top 1% of wage earners holding almost one third of the wealth. When combined with the 19% below them, they control over 80% of the nation’s wealth, leaving just 15% to the other 80% of Americans. The movement has spread all over the country and world, to big and small cities alike, and even onto college campuses now.

OWS didn’t come without challenges though. All over the country protestors have been met with police using tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and even a sound cannon. By now you’ve seen the picture of 84 year old protestor Dorli Rainey after she was pepper sprayed by Seattle police,

and heard of Scott Olson, the Iraq war vet who sustained a head injury from a tear gas canister that was thrown at him from Oakland police. But why? Those protesting are being peaceful, exercising their First Amendment right to assemble and don’t even fight back against the police. The Tea Party rallies don’t get this kind of attention. Here’s why: much like the civil rights marches, the anti-war demonstrations against Vietnam and the student protests on college campuses during the 1960’s and 70’s, OWS is seen as a real and legitimate threat to the status quo. Congressman Peter King (R, NY) is afraid OWS will start shaping policy, much like the aforementioned protests of the 60’s and 70’s and that OWS must be stopped. Fox News is trying to downplay and demonize the movement saying that kitchen knives and hypodermic needles found during the cleanup Zucotti Park are evidence of violence and drugs in the camp. Let me clear this up, they had a kitchen/mess hall tent and a medical tent, making those items used not for what Fox was saying. Fox News is staffed by right-wing ideologues and moron, they have no clue what they’re talking about. Also the Tea Party is a joke and no one takes them seriously, so why bother with them.

But there is an uneasy side to OWS, and that is the amount of violence used against the protestors by police. Earlier I had mentioned the cases of Dorli Rainey and Scott Olson, but they aren’t the only ones. There is also the infamous picture from Occupy University of California at Davis where campus police in riot gear pepper sprayed unarmed students as they sat on the sidewalk protesting higher tuition at the school.

How much longer before OWS turns into Tahrir Square in Egypt with the police firing upon the protestors? How much longer until Occupy UC Davis or any other college turns into another Kent State and innocent students die at the hands of campus police or National Guard troops. It’s evident that the police mantra “To protect and serve” only applies to the 1%. Even New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has called the NYPD his personal army. I fear this will turn violent very soon and when it does, all hell in this country will break loose.