Terrance Heath

Policing the 99% Part 1

Filed By Terrance Heath | November 03, 2011 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: 1%, 99%, Occupy Wall Street, police brutality, policing your own

Much has already been written and said about violence police used against unarmed OWS protesters in New York, Chicago, Boston, and now Oakland. From using pepper spray against peaceful protesters to lobbing flash bombs at unarmed protesters rushing to help an injured man, the police tactics are chilling enough by themselves. When considered in the context of what really motivates the protesters, the policing of the 99 percent by the 99 percent on behalf of the 1 percent is truly ominous.

The images and footage of the violence are both disturbing and unsurprising. They exist largely because of the ubiquitousness of smartphones and digital cameras that put the power of social media in the hands of every day people. (I write this without irony, as I’ll explain later.) That alone calls into question the wisdom of police actions, given the high likelihood that the actions will be recorded and the actors identified. (The pepper spray incident in New York is one example, as activists quickly identified the officer who wielded the pepper spray.)

In the most shocking cases, the protesters’ only transgression appears to have been dissent. The women pepper sprayed in New York were merely complaining about the police tactics in moving the protesters away from buildings. Others have been arrested for merely talking to police officers. The brutality of the police actions are, in some ways, matched by officers apparent amusement and the glee with which conservatives have responded to them. As with gay soldiers in Iraq, veterans of our most recent wars are not spared, as conservatives accuse the veteran who confronted NYPD officers about the violence used against unarmed protesters of “hiding behind his service to his country,” and “blamed the victim” in comments on the YouTube video of two-time Iraq war veteran Scott Olson being shot in the head with a projectile by Oakland police, while taking part in a peaceful protest and provoking no one.


By contrast, progressives and OWS supporters held “We Are All Scott Olsen” rallies all over the country, in a show of support, solidarity and empathy summed up by the statement of one Wisconsin activist: “He could be any one of us.” It also sums up what the OWS movement is all about, and what protesters in Oakland, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, and hundreds of other cities are marching for.

While the media and the pundit class like to pretend that no one -- not even the OWS protesters -- know what the demonstrations are all about, recent CBO statistics make it all too clear what motivates the OWS movement and its’ supporters.

The hard-right conservatives who dominate the Republican Party claim to despise the redistribution of wealth, but secretly they love it -- as long as the process involves depriving the poor and middle class to benefit the rich, not the other way around.

That is precisely what has been happening, as a jaw-dropping new report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office demonstrates. Three decades of trickle-down economic theory, see-no-evil deregulation and tax-cutting fervor have led to massive redistribution. Another word for what's been happening might be theft.

The gist of the CBO study, titled "Trends in the Distribution of Household Income Between 1979 and 2007," is that while we've become wealthier overall, these new riches have largely bypassed many Americans and instead flowed mostly to the affluent. Perhaps my memory is faulty, but I don't remember voting to turn the United States into a nation starkly divided between haves and have-nots. Yet that's where we've been led.

In fact, the wealthiest 1% doubled its share of the nation’s income, yet the economy still sputters. Meanwhile, the median income for the rest of us dropped to $26,364, 64% of us don’t have enough cash on hand for a $1,000 emergency expense, and more than 20% of us see our personal financial situation at “poor.”

The activists and supporters of the Occupy movement are not wild-eyed radicals bent on anarchy, or starry-eyed, utopia-seeking flower children.

Recent polls and surveys show that efforts on the right and in the media to portray the Occupy protesters as “mobs” of “dirty hippies” who “don’t know what they’re protesting,” are not having the desired effect on rest of the population. They have not muted the message of the protests or blurred economic realities that have inspired the movement and its message.

A fellow Marines explained what motivated Scott Olsen’s participation in the Occupy movement: "Scott was marching with the 99 percent because he felt corporations and banks had too much control over our government, and that they weren't being held accountable for their role in the economic downturn, which caused so many people to lose their jobs and their homes."

That applies not just to Olsen, but the the Occupy movement itself. Yet you wouldn’t know it from listening to media talking heads who deride activists being cluelessly “anti-corporation” while lugging their laptops and smartphones to the protest sites and encampments. Nor will you hear it from conservative politicians like Paul Ryan, who are to busy decrying “class warfare” and “envy” as the driving forces of the protests, and the cause of “social unrest.”

As Bob Cesca explains, Occupy Wall Street isn’t “anti-corporation.” It’s anti-corporate crime.

The movement is opposed to deregulated, free market capitalism. Short of Ron Paul disciples and Ayn Rand cultists, no reasonable American wants a system in which Enron, Goldman Sachs, AIG or BP can commit heinous crimes and not pay the price. According to Gallup, 68 percent of Americans want corporations to have less influence in America. That doesn’t mean a supermajority of Americans are anti-corporation, it simply means that a supermajority of Americans agree that corporations have acquired too much power and therefore ought to be reined in. Not banished or banned, just watched more closely.

The OWS movement, like the American people, isn’t anti-corporate, it’s anti-corporate crime.

…Members of the Republican Party and the conservative movement are all about law and order, right? It’s remarkable, then, that Dennis Prager and Herman Cain aren’t supporting accountability against the corporations that poison our water or exacerbate unemployment or trigger a deep recession.

And that’s exactly what OWS is seeking: accountability.

They not “anti-capitalism” or even “anti-capitalist.” They are Americans opposed to a capitalism that has operated without conscience or accountability for decades, and outraged that they, their families and their communities have borne the consequences. And this means one of two things: that their concerns must be prioritized and their voices heeded, or they must be more effectively policed.

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Thank you. I will pass this along on my blog, email, and facebook.
We are the 99%

Excellent article! I, too, am very tired of hearing people say that the movement is made up of nothing but lazy people who have nothing better to do with their time, or hippies who only care about where the next drumming circle will be held. It is made up of people from all walks of life, in all the various social situations, from young kids to senior citizens. Seven weeks in, and the numbers are only growing. We are the 99%. Viva the revolution!!

I became an Activist at age 14, I've been at it now for 42 years. I fought for every wrong that required to be righted( no pun intended), Occupy allowed VFP, IVAW, and VVAW to speak after Scott was hit in the head at OO, he's a member of IVAW AND VFP, as am I but I was discharged honorably from the Air Force in the 70's. I wrote an article in one of my non-profit blogs about Occupy, if people aren't allowing the Constitutional Violations occurring by the hour, the violation of our First, Fourth and Eighth in particular then they're not comprehending Actions cannot remain one issue Actions, and growing the group due to acts of violence by police on Protesters cannot be tolerated, we as the 99% have many injustices thanks to the Grand Obstructionist Party, so far right they can no longer even make left turns or they'll be called a, Geez Louise this is heinous, a, a, Progressive, gasp! They truly believe that in our First, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion; the religion is Christianity only! Haven't they ever read any quotes by Thomas Jefferson?
I fought like an animal for women's rights. When I was in school until 1969 or 70, "girls" had to take typing, home ec. and weren't permitted to take mechanical drafting, civil engineering, anything to do with cars. Until 1968 girls were required to wear dresses or skirts, no pants. I refused to take typing, I sat on the radiator and took an F now we have computers so you can imagine how awful I am at entering articles I write when it's important they get right out. I forced them to allow me in a drafting class, what they did was completely ignore me, teacher included, ergo I never had any questions answered, I didn't want an F in my Junior year so I was forced to listen to my schmuck VP tell me he'd sign the paperwork releasing me from that class because of course I realize girls are much worse at math and science than boys, before I beat him to a pulp I ran out of his office because my lip was bleeding from biting it.
First woman hired by Honeywell Large Information Systems, computer division of Honeywell, and Honeywell Bulle', before they went under. Lived with a roommate in 1978, that was transgender, her name was Greta but the bottom wasn't completed yet, one of our favorite clubs was Harlow's, my 36 yr old daughter looked it up on google last night because she is in AFI, American Film Institute in LA where she lives. She's writing a TV pilot about Philly in 74, disco, gay clubs, the way we dressed, etc. and The Google has Harlow's address of the club at like 22nd & Market I told her nope very wrong, it was between 4th and 5th on Filbert St. she was born Richard Finnochio, and she was knocked out gorgeous!
So off topic I went, sorry, but Occupy has experienced Activists at many of their locations, we need to win at minimum on the taxing the 1%, I have no qualms about the amount of my taxes every year because how else are the uninsured, the impoverished, homeless, hungry, dying supposed to get money except from our taxes? But the 1% pay zero, and whine about the poor, usually in racist terms, they haven't a right to even open their fat mouths about helping those less fortunate, the egregious Corporocracy. But if all aren't aware of the yes, I can be arrested, No I cannot be arrested but can do this or that and this list has to be set up prior. Bail funds should try to be collected before the Action, you all know the drill. I'm glad I found this site, oh boy I only belong to about 30 no exaggeration.