Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"There's No Way To Put The Genie Back In the Bottle..."

If mainstream media in this country weren't all about corporate and corporate/government propaganda, this brief news segment might have been made by American journalists. Instead, it was made by Aljazeera.

I've spent a good part of the morning reviewing video of the overnight eviction from Union Square in New York. Several times, the situation turned ugly, though at no time did I see the crowd turn violent. Instead, there were more incidents of police rioting.

The initial eviction was essentially unopposed; police announced the closure of the park at midnight -- witnesses said it was the first time in their lifetime that that portion of Union Square had ever been closed. Members of the crowd argued with the police, but generally, the situation was calm -- at least compared to the situation at Zuccotti/Liberty Park on Saturday.

The police massed and moved the Occupy-ers out of the park -- that is to say, they moved them down onto the broad sidewalk on the 14th Street side -- without, so far as I could tell from the videos, using any form of violence. Then they erected iconic NYPD barricades which the police stood behind the way they do. There looked to be a thousand or more Occupy-ers on the sidewalk. There was some verbal back and forth with the police and some of the Occupy-ers, and there was one incident in which an officer blocked the lens of an AP photographer's camera which touched off a minor to-do, but for the most part, for the next several hours, there was a relatively calm stand off.

Sanitation crews cleaned up the debris in the park and were cheered by the crowd.

There was a "speak out" assembly during which some really inspiring speeches were given by Occupy-ers.

Video streaming by Ustream

Then around 3:00am or so, the police moved from the park and onto the sidewalk. They were ordering people not to sit or lie down or they would be arrested, they were pushing the much smaller crowd into a confined area near the subway entrance, and they were blocking access to the rest of the sidewalk on the 14th Street side of the park. Then they started confiscating personal property reportedly including parts of the small library which the Occupy-ers had set up at the park. The police moved into the crowd en masse, grabbing and throwing people to the ground or out of the area. It was a melee, yet another police riot in New York City. One medic was thrown to the ground by the police and hit her head hard on the pavement, apparently knocking her unconscious. People pushed back on the police, insisting that they stop their violence and get out of the way while other medics treated the injured woman. Most of the police backed off, though a couple of uniformed officers stayed in the immediate vicinity of the injured woman while medics comforted her.

An ambulance was called, whether by the police or not, I couldn't say. It arrived within a few minutes of the incident, unlike the Cecily McMillan case on Saturday/Sunday at Zuccotti/Liberty where she was having seizures and hyperventilating and falling unconscious repeatedly for up to 20 minutes before Emergency Services arrived, while hundreds of police stood around gawping and preventing trained and licensed medics from reaching her.

As Emergency Services was about to put the woman injured by police at Union Square onto a stretcher, the police inexplicably charged into the crowd again, and started throwing people around, some of whom landed on the woman who was previously injured. Other people were injured in this assault as well. This action enraged the crowd, but they did not respond with violence of their own, they responded with utter contempt for the police.

The injured woman was eventually transported, and the police were eventually removed from harassment duty -- maybe an hour after the aktion started. By that time, there were only a few dozen Occupy-ers still there in any case.

Video streaming by Ustream

Luke Rudkowski, who is recording the video above and is describing what is going on, is completely dumbfounded by the behavior of the police, as he had been on Saturday/Sunday as Cecily McMillen writhed in seizures at Zuccotti/Liberty Park while police did nothing except prevent qualified paramedical personnel from attending to her. He seemed to think it was incompetence.

I would say, based on what little I know about these sorts of things, that the actions that were witnessed and recorded were quite intentional and strategic.

Part of the police strategy for controlling the Occupy phenomenon is fright. They are trying to scare people from joining the movement, from being anywhere near it, in fact. And among the tactics they use: demonstrating their violence toward and their indifference to the suffering of Occupy-ers. These are time honored tactics, often employed, particularly in confined situations such as we see with the Occupys (and in jails and prisons, too.)

They want the public to see and react to their violence and their indifference to suffering. That is what scares people, perhaps more than most anything else they could be doing apart from firing live ammunition into crowds.

Last night, they also had some representative from the anti-terrorism squad parading around attempting to intimidate the crowd with his presence. The police have other tactics as well. But it's not "incompetence" that makes them behave this way. It is planning and strategy.

It works to some extent, but only partially. The crowds turn out nevertheless for Occupy events, which are happening practically every day now, but now the crowds are mostly made up of the braver and angrier people. They fight back in a certain way, though they haven't quite figured out how to do it effectively. They're learning. Last night a number of people commented that the police were trying to provoke violence by the crowd, and of course they didn't succeed. If that's their plan, and it seems to be the case, they will be disappointed. What they don't seem to realize is that an organic and evolutionary movement is by its nature going to thwart them.

The American Spring is going to be very interesting indeed.

And I've heard two people now insisting that "at least 100,000 will have to die before this is over..."

I don't believe that, but some do.

Whatever the case, there is no way to put the genie of Occupy back in the bottle.

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