Thursday, October 6, 2011
The Revolution Starts... Now...
Actually, we're coming a little late to the party, but that's OK. Our Action, the local Solidarity Occupation, starts in a few hours, and after last night's melees in New York and various reports locally of "what we can expect from the police," there's a sense of anxiety that was present prior to yesterday.
What is wrong with those White Shirts in New York? Good God. I had the Livestream on in the background while I was doing other things. It seemed calm enough in New York, though nobody seemed to know what was going on. The Square was ringed by police, and it appeared people weren't allowed to leave; there were many, many thousands of people on the streets and sidewalks around the Square, but the police were keeping traffic lanes open, and it seemed like the sort of stalemate situation that occurs all the time.
As I was puttering with other things last night, I heard from the Livestream something that sounded like the chants on the Brooklyn Bridge, and I thought they were showing footage from the Bridge again. The Livestream had been terrible most of the day, very choppy, very difficult to follow at times. I thought it had gone out again and they were showing previously recorded footage. But no, when I looked, I could hear shouting and screaming but not really see it, though I saw at least one person being led away in zip-ties. Not only was the Livestream very poor, the camera was quite far from most of what was happening. But apparently there were "mass arrests" under way, and the police were "out of control." People were being beaten in the streets, and it was a mélee.
Then footage started showing up, first of the media team in the paddy wagon, bruised and bloodied, telling terrible stories of being bludgeoned by the police, slammed against the wall, kicked and punched... apparently for doing nothing but being there and recording what was going on. Then there was footage of White Shirts wailing away with their nightsticks in fury and rage at demonstrators who, as far as I could tell, were simply... there. Where? On their way to Wall Street.
Eventually the story came out that a very large march to Wall Street had been organized combining elements from the Labor Demonstration that had been going on all day and #occupywallstreet. There were, perhaps, twenty thousand or more marchers. The police would not let them go to Wall Street, and at an intersection near Wall Street (it may have been more than one, I haven't had time to sort the reports yet this morning) they stopped the march (some reports say it was an offshoot of the main march, and that those involved were intent on reaching Wall Street, and disobeyed the police), people kept moving forward, toward the barricades, and the White Shirts responded with violence.
These people are completely out of control; and by these people, I mean the White Shirts, the instigators of the violence in New York last night.
An eyewitness report from the ground indicated that the police had confined the marchers between very narrow barricades, and they had been funneling them away from Wall Street. Tens of thousands of people were being funneled around Lower Manhattan this way. Apparently, the police violence occurred when the people either couldn't or refused to move back from the barricades.
The question arises: Why such barricades in the first place? What are they protecting?
The people are peaceful -- loud to be sure, but that is not violent.
The police, and only the police, have been violent, and last night's violence was -- perhaps -- the last straw.
Well... this is an ongoing occupation action. There is no "last straw." It will go on till it doesn't.
Today is the big October2011 Stop the Machine rally and occupation in Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC. Few are there as of 9:30am EST according to the Livestream but more are gathering. A homeless man is speaking on the Livestream, he's quite articulate about the need for a different set of priorities in this country and for more and more people to attend the rally. He says he's a veteran, and he was in the service for over 20 years. He says if we spent only 20% of the military budget on things we need, everyone in the country would be housed, fed, and provided medical care.
All of which is correct. We know what's wrong. We know what to do about it. Our rulers are indifferent.
The stories were flying last night that the local cops were planning to show up at the #occupation here in force and in full riot attire. This word apparently came directly from the police department itself to one of the local organizers. WTF?
As I've said, protests and rallies and marches are a way of life around here. They are so frequent, they are routine parts of city life. The police do not get riot-geared up for them. Not the state police at the Capitol and not the city police everywhere else. There have been few confrontations and no riots at all for many years.
So this is a very strange -- and not really credible -- threat from the SPD. And yet...
That is how the Bay Area transit police get all dolled up to confront peaceful protesters routinely.
What are they afraid of? Who are they protecting?
I don't have Ipads and such, nor does my laptop have a built in camera, so it's unlikely I'll do any live blogging. But I might surprise myself. As of right now, more than 1100 have signed up on Facebook to attend today's local #occupation action.