Thursday, March 15, 2012

This Is What A Police State Looks Like (Redux)

By now, it should be clear that the Authorities have been busy during the Occupy semi-hiatus over the winter. Oh yes. Oh. My. Yes.

The other day, the Oakland City Attorney sued one of the local Occupy activists for vandalism for acts he is alleged to have committed in Oakland on the night of General Strike Day, November 2. Cesar is one of the gentlest and most generous people I know. He says that on that night, he was not committing vandalism in Oakland at all. He was trying to protect himself from police munitions fire by "liberating" a piece of plywood covering a window to use as a shield. Cesar was arrested that night for vandalism and failure to disperse, but he has not been charged criminally. The video evidence the city says they will produce more than likely is ambiguous about what actually happened, but it's obvious the City of Oakland is using this case as a weapon to keep "outside agitators" out of Oakland. Message: if people from elsewhere show up in Oakland and something happens, the outsiders will be charged for damages. Sort of like the Hotel Tax, I guess.

Not content with merely charging outsiders for damages, the Alameda County District Attorney has filed criminal charges against a number of UC Berkeley students and one professor for their participation in the iconic protest demonstrations at Sproul Hall on November 9, 2011. It's worse than the Daily Cal reported above. Nancy O'Malley -- the now notorious Alameda County DA -- has charged a total of ten students who participated in the protest at Sproul Hall, some of them charged after the UCPD gained access to their records at the University medical center where they went for treatment of the injuries sustained when they were beaten by police. Only two or three of those charged by the DA were arrested that day. One of them was Celeste Langan who is seen dressed in purple, at the extreme left of the video at the beginning, "resisting" arrest.

Cute. Her arraignment is scheduled for tomorrow, I believe. Should be quite a show.

These are links to raw footage of some of what was going on that day at UC Berkeley.
(Langan is seen in this video, the second person thrown to the ground and trussed up by police at about 3:40; at the end of this video, she is shown being hoisted up and starts to be led away) (In this video, which shows nonsequential events, Langan appears at about 2:17 being led away. The determination of the students in the face of what was seen at that time to be outrageous police violence is impressive.) (This video is sort of the Highlight Reel; early on a female likely Cal student is heard repeating "You're hurting him!" while a protester is being beaten nearby. She is then heard saying to someone "That's how we train them to fucking stop us. We pay for them to fucking hurt us." Which is absolutely true. The UC police and the Alameda County Deputies were actually training not far from this very site a month or so before -- I've read it was with Israeli trainers -- to conduct this kind of action. Celeste Langan is shown in complete shock being led away in flexicuffs at about 3:20.)

The picture used in the article about Israelification of Occupy suppression is of course of the UC Davis pepper spray incident that happened a week after the Cal police riot. After numerous delays, an official report on the incident was supposed to be released on March 6, but the UC Davis police officers union sued to prevent it and got a TRO which is currently in effect. They claim that release of the report will compromise the rights of officers who might be named therein. This matter is also supposed to be heard in court tomorrow.

The NYPD is notorious for spying on various suspect groups including Muslims and Occupy Wall Street, but now, according to In These Times, they've gone further than usual by arresting people for "thought crimes" or "pre-crimes." This practice was more-or-less institutionalized during the RNC convention in St. Paul in 2008 prior to which and during which dozens of arrests were made and property was seized of people who were suspected of making preparations to protest. There is apparently a grand jury empaneled in Chicago that has been trying to develop terrorism charges against some of those who were arrested in Minneapolis and St. Paul four years ago, but many of those subpoenaed have refused to cooperate.

This is a compilation video of some of what was going on in Minneapolis/St. Paul prior to and during the Republican convention.

Notice anything? The exact tactics have been used and are being used against Occupy. At the time, in 2008, what was going on in Minneapolis/St. Paul was seen as way over the top. The rallies and marches and protests during the convention were peaceful, even routine in the context, yet the police were on some kind of hair-trigger/steroid alert against the protesters constantly -- even before the convention, and they have stayed that way afterwards -- and they behaved with what was at that time shocking brutality and over kill. People were being kettled and arrested en masse -- whether or not they had anything to do with protesting -- hundreds were held for days, they were not allowed any sort of contact with the outside, nor did were they allowed medical attention for injuries or other conditions; people were arrested for doing nothing at all, but merely because they had been identified as "potential" protesters. Flash bangs and tear gas were liberally employed against nonviolent protests. Police brutality was commonplace. It was a war zone in which only one side -- the police -- was fighting. The protests were nonviolent. The police, however, employed what were at that time considered extreme levels of violence against them.

And it's going on in much the same way against Occupy.

What gives?

The political conventions are what's called National Special Security Events, during which, essentially, the Constitution is suspended. During National Special Security Events, a form of martial law can be and often is imposed; violent and otherwise unethical or illegal means are typically used to suppress protest. While I've written about National Special Security Events and the nature of policing during them, I'm not at all sure that many Americans actually understand what is going on.

More likely, they see the suppression and assume it is due to something the protesters have done, which is simply not the case. The suppression tactics and the "threat display" aspects of officials are policy during these events. The policy doesn't change based on what the protesters do or don't do. The policy is to suppress, to prevent, and to tightly control the public -- no matter what they do.

Since the October 25 assault on Occupy Oakland, it's looked more and more like the Occupy Movement has been categorized as something that requires NSSE-type suppression. The clue came much earlier, however, when fully armored up riot squads were deployed night after night against a handful of local protesters who were peacefully engaged in civil disobedience. Night after night after night, dozens of riot cops (sometimes up to 70 or 80), squad cars, paddy wagons and so forth were dispatched to round up ten or two or, on one occasion, one protester sitting on the sidewalk refusing to "disperse" at plaza "closing time." It was an absurd goon show that became a joke. But not a funny one. Eventually, even the police recognized how foolish they looked in their little riot get-ups and their ridiculously over produced arrest-theater, and scaled back their overkill, and when the hundreds of thousands of dollars it was costing was released, they stopped doing it altogether. The DA refused to prosecute, and in the end, all the charges against demonstrators were dropped, although there has been an attempt to assess "fees" against those who were arrested multiple times (typically around $300).

As someone pointed out, had the police used their discretion and not engaged in this nonsense to begin with, there wouldn't have been any costs to the city at all. Duh. But no. Civil disobedience must be suppressed. Violently in too many cases.

But even when there isn't police violence during Occupy suppression actions, the official intent is to intimidate and disable. For example:

Occupy Miami raided by SWAT teams (VIDEO) (h/t teri49 in comments)

Objectively, this is just insane. The official fear level about the Occupy movement -- and apparently any other civil disobedience -- has reached a fever pitch. The fact that people are so pissed off and no longer fear saying so seems to have hit a raw nerve among the ruling classes and their enforcers.

Bones are thrown to the masses from time to time, but it doesn't stop the protest and actions. Suppression doesn't stop it; in fact, action seems to be on an increasing curve as more and more activists pick up on the Occupy movement's strategies.

This is not going away, despite the institutionalization of the Police State -- which looks to be full-time and permanent now. The ruling class and its bought and paid for government and enforcers are in a pre-panic state. They do not know how to suppress it, and they don't know how to fully control it. But they don't want to actually listen the voices of the People and do the right thing, either. They still don't think they have to. After all, they have NDAA and HR 347.

We got nothin', right?

We'll see about that.

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