Sunday, October 16, 2011
This Is What You Have To Do -- Shame Them
You have to shame the shit out of them so that they stop; and they will stop, if they are shamed enough by the People.
This Marine, Sgt. Shamar Thomas, shames the NYPD for what they have been doing to unarmed citizens, namely brutalizing and fighting them. "There is no honor in this! Why are you doing this?"
And the officers, for once, even the white shirts, were knocked down several notches. It's not just that one of their peers was haranguing them. A Marine has moral authority in the militarized police culture. And the police had no escape from what he was saying. "There is no honor in this!"
That simple statement works a lot better than all the chants of "Shame! Shame! Shame!" themselves.
It's been clear all along that many officers in the police forces of many cities simply hate what they are being ordered to do. I read today that some of the Chicago police officers who performed the mass arrests at Grant Park last night expressed the fact that they are very sympathetic to the Occupations. In Sacramento it has been reported that at least three of the arresting officers had tears in their eyes last night, I would say due to the shame of what they were being ordered to do. And not too long ago -- though it seems like years given the upheaval of our present times -- I posted a video of a grandmotherly San Franciscan haranguing the BART cops at one of the Downtown transit stations, bringing another officer to tears.
Believe it or not, that video was in August. Of this year. And it feels to me like it was so long ago.
Shame is what works on Authority out of control. It's not quick, and it's not perfect because not all of Authority is susceptible to shaming, but almost always there are enough people of authority who can be moved by shame, or the fear of shame, that they can be persuaded to change their ways.
Ideally, there will be mutinies. It's happened before. And once there are mutinies by the forces arrayed against the People, that "change" we keep saying we want will happen. It could be tomorrow, it could take months or years. Persistence is the key.