[FoRK] The shocking truth about the crackdown on Occupy

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Sat Nov 26 13:08:15 PST 2011


"So, when you connect the dots, properly understood, what happened this week
is the first battle in a civil war; a civil war in which, for now, only one
side is choosing violence. It is a battle in which members of Congress, with
the collusion of the American president, sent violent, organised suppression
against the people they are supposed to represent. Occupy has touched the
third rail: personal congressional profits streams. Even though they are, as
yet, unaware of what the implications of their movement are, those threatened
by the stirrings of their dreams of reform are not."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/nov/25/shocking-truth-about-crackdown-occupy?CMP=twt_gu

The shocking truth about the crackdown on Occupy

The violent police assaults across the US are no coincidence. Occupy has
touched the third rail of our political class's venality

Naomi Wolf

guardian.co.uk, Friday 25 November 2011 17.25 GMT

Brandon Watts lies injured as Occupy Wall Street protesters clash with police
in Zuccotti Park

Occupy Wall Street protester Brandon Watts lies injured on the ground after
clashes with police over the eviction of OWS from Zuccotti Park. Photograph:
Allison Joyce/Getty Images

US citizens of all political persuasions are still reeling from images of
unparallelled police brutality in a coordinated crackdown against peaceful
OWS protesters in cities across the nation this past week. An elderly woman
was pepper-sprayed in the face; the scene of unresisting, supine students at
UC Davis being pepper-sprayed by phalanxes of riot police went viral online;
images proliferated of young women – targeted seemingly for their gender –
screaming, dragged by the hair by police in riot gear; and the pictures of a
young man, stunned and bleeding profusely from the head, emerged in the
record of the middle-of-the-night clearing of Zuccotti Park.

But just when Americans thought we had the picture – was this crazy police
and mayoral overkill, on a municipal level, in many different cities? – the
picture darkened. The National Union of Journalists and the Committee to
Protect Journalists issued a Freedom of Information Act request to
investigate possible federal involvement with law enforcement practices that
appeared to target journalists. The New York Times reported that "New York
cops have arrested, punched, whacked, shoved to the ground and tossed a
barrier at reporters and photographers" covering protests. Reporters were
asked by NYPD to raise their hands to prove they had credentials: when many
dutifully did so, they were taken, upon threat of arrest, away from the story
they were covering, and penned far from the site in which the news was
unfolding. Other reporters wearing press passes were arrested and roughed up
by cops, after being – falsely – informed by police that "It is illegal to
take pictures on the sidewalk."

In New York, a state supreme court justice and a New York City council member
were beaten up; in Berkeley, California, one of our greatest national poets,
Robert Hass, was beaten with batons. The picture darkened still further when
Wonkette and Washingtonsblog.com reported that the Mayor of Oakland
acknowledged that the Department of Homeland Security had participated in an
18-city mayor conference call advising mayors on "how to suppress" Occupy
protests.

To Europeans, the enormity of this breach may not be obvious at first. Our
system of government prohibits the creation of a federalised police force,
and forbids federal or militarised involvement in municipal peacekeeping.

I noticed that rightwing pundits and politicians on the TV shows on which I
was appearing were all on-message against OWS. Journalist Chris Hayes
reported on a leaked memo that revealed lobbyists vying for an $850,000
contract to smear Occupy. Message coordination of this kind is impossible
without a full-court press at the top. This was clearly not simply a case of
a freaked-out mayors', city-by-city municipal overreaction against mess in
the parks and cranky campers. As the puzzle pieces fit together, they began
to show coordination against OWS at the highest national levels.

Why this massive mobilisation against these not-yet-fully-articulated,
unarmed, inchoate people? After all, protesters against the war in Iraq, Tea
Party rallies and others have all proceeded without this coordinated
crackdown. Is it really the camping? As I write, two hundred young people,
with sleeping bags, suitcases and even folding chairs, are still camping out
all night and day outside of NBC on public sidewalks – under the benevolent
eye of an NYPD cop – awaiting Saturday Night Live tickets, so surely the
camping is not the issue. I was still deeply puzzled as to why OWS, this
hapless, hopeful band, would call out a violent federal response.

That is, until I found out what it was that OWS actually wanted.

The mainstream media was declaring continually "OWS has no message".
Frustrated, I simply asked them. I began soliciting online "What is it you
want?" answers from Occupy. In the first 15 minutes, I received 100 answers.
These were truly eye-opening.

The No 1 agenda item: get the money out of politics. Most often cited was
legislation to blunt the effect of the Citizens United ruling, which lets
boundless sums enter the campaign process. No 2: reform the banking system to
prevent fraud and manipulation, with the most frequent item being to restore
the Glass-Steagall Act – the Depression-era law, done away with by President
Clinton, that separates investment banks from commercial banks. This law
would correct the conditions for the recent crisis, as investment banks could
not take risks for profit that create kale derivatives out of thin air, and
wipe out the commercial and savings banks.

No 3 was the most clarifying: draft laws against the little-known loophole
that currently allows members of Congress to pass legislation affecting
Delaware-based corporations in which they themselves are investors.

When I saw this list – and especially the last agenda item – the scales fell
from my eyes. Of course, these unarmed people would be having the shit kicked
out of them.

For the terrible insight to take away from news that the Department of
Homeland Security coordinated a violent crackdown is that the DHS does not
freelance. The DHS cannot say, on its own initiative, "we are going after
these scruffy hippies". Rather, DHS is answerable up a chain of command:
first, to New York Representative Peter King, head of the House homeland
security subcommittee, who naturally is influenced by his fellow congressmen
and women's wishes and interests. And the DHS answers directly, above King,
to the president (who was conveniently in Australia at the time).

In other words, for the DHS to be on a call with mayors, the logic of its
chain of command and accountability implies that congressional overseers,
with the blessing of the White House, told the DHS to authorise mayors to
order their police forces – pumped up with millions of dollars of hardware
and training from the DHS – to make war on peaceful citizens.

But wait: why on earth would Congress advise violent militarised reactions
against its own peaceful constituents? The answer is straightforward: in
recent years, members of Congress have started entering the system as members
of the middle class (or upper middle class) – but they are leaving DC privy
to vast personal wealth, as we see from the "scandal" of presidential
contender Newt Gingrich's having been paid $1.8m for a few hours'
"consulting" to special interests. The inflated fees to lawmakers who turn
lobbyists are common knowledge, but the notion that congressmen and women are
legislating their own companies' profitsis less widely known – and if the
books were to be opened, they would surely reveal corruption on a Wall Street
spectrum. Indeed, we do already know that congresspeople are massively
profiting from trading on non-public information they have on companies about
which they are legislating – a form of insider trading that sent Martha
Stewart to jail.

Since Occupy is heavily surveilled and infiltrated, it is likely that the DHS
and police informers are aware, before Occupy itself is, what its emerging
agenda is going to look like. If legislating away lobbyists' privileges to
earn boundless fees once they are close to the legislative process, reforming
the banks so they can't suck money out of fake derivatives products, and,
most critically, opening the books on a system that allowed members of
Congress to profit personally – and immensely – from their own legislation,
are two beats away from the grasp of an electorally organised Occupy movement
… well, you will call out the troops on stopping that advance.

So, when you connect the dots, properly understood, what happened this week
is the first battle in a civil war; a civil war in which, for now, only one
side is choosing violence. It is a battle in which members of Congress, with
the collusion of the American president, sent violent, organised suppression
against the people they are supposed to represent. Occupy has touched the
third rail: personal congressional profits streams. Even though they are, as
yet, unaware of what the implications of their movement are, those threatened
by the stirrings of their dreams of reform are not.

Sadly, Americans this week have come one step closer to being true brothers
and sisters of the protesters in Tahrir Square. Like them, our own national
leaders, who likely see their own personal wealth under threat from
transparency and reform, are now making war upon us.



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