Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
There’s a sense that these Occupy actions, and city responses, while significant in themselves, are also a sign of things to come. A “Spring Uprising” is one phrase I’ve seen.
Earlier I wrote about steps Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is taking in preparation for the G8 / NATO Summit in May, which are not that out of line with what’s been happening for years. Protests are restricted to specific, out of sight, places. Protestors are “kettled.” Sometimes the next step is arrests, and that’s included arrests of appropriately credentialed media. All of this was seen in one or both of the DC and Oakland Occupier and police actions over the weekend.
Some background, from TruthOut, published on January 28:
LA Police Department Conducts Joint Exercises with the Military
… The LA Police Department … and the U.S. military conducted joint ‘tactical exercises’ in downtown LA this week. One Black Hawk … and four OH-6 choppers … flew over the city during the exercise. …
‘The Los Angeles Police Department will be providing support for a joint military training exercise in and around the great Los Angeles area,’ the release stated.’ …
Joint military exercises have also been conducted over Boston, Massachusetts and Little Rock, Arkansas over the past six months.
The article, by Dan Bacher, includes analysis of the National Defense Authorization Act, and ties the joint operations to
… the repression of the Occupy movement by police departments throughout the nation.
One other bit of background, for Oakland, from Huffington:
Oakland Police Department Only Weeks Away From Being Placed Into Federal Control
Nearly a decade after the city of Oakland was first threatened with losing control of its police force, Judge Thelton Henderson has severely curtailed the independence of the Oakland Police Department, saying that it could placed under federal receivership as soon as this March.
As best as I can tell from reading multiple descriptions and reports about what happened in Oakland, there were examples of both those among the Occupiers and those among the Oakland PD who broke their own rules. Estimates ranged from 1000 to 2000 protestors, across the events of the day, with about 400 total arrests. The day began with the well publicized — including a letter to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan — efforts to “re-purpose” a building, abandoned for six years, as an Occupied “community center.” After being blocked from doing that, the actions moved into other parts of the city.
For some Occupiers, who threw objects at the police, broke into City Hall and reportedly engaged in some vandalizing, it was a serious break of the non-violence which has largely defined the movement. For some Oakland Police officers, it was a serious disregard of the rules they’re suppose to follow, reportedly including illegal use of batons and numerous uses of unnecessary force in general — tear gas; smoke grenades and bean bag projectiles among other things.
Mayor Quan, unsurprisingly, strongly supported the actions of police officers, though the following, from the AP article above, is interesting:
Quan blamed the destruction on a small ‘very radical, violent’ splinter group within Occupy Oakland.
A few people — for whatever motives — can use violence to the detriment of many others. And those “few” can be both police and protestor. That the arrest of even credentialed journalists — see Gavin Aronsen’s “Journalists–Myself Included–Swept Up in Mass Arrest at Occupy Oakland” at Mother Jones — add another serious dimension. As do NDAA and some city mayor’s working with Homeland Security and the military.
In DC today, the story continues to unfold, as the National Park Service distributed flyers, stating they will begin to clear the two Occupy camps today. From OpEdNews:
It took just 72 hours for the National Park Service and their Director, Jonathan Jarvis, to cave-in to Republican pressure to remove the Occupy protesters who are camping at Freedom Plaza and McPherson Park. …
Despite Director Jarvis’ statements to Congress that there had been no less than two previous long-term encampments on Washington DC property the National Park Service bowed to Republican pressure. Vehement support for the Occupiers was given by committee Democrats including Eleanor Holmes Norton, whose district these camps are in, and Elija Cummings, the ranking member on the committee.
And yes, I notice the focus in this statement is pro-Democratic, anti-Republican. I don’t generalize from that, however, to conclude Occupy as a whole is signaling a change in its take on electoral politics in general.
Danny Schechter has been covering the Occupy movement from very early on. After the events in Oakland on Saturday, Schechter wrote:
One thing is clear already: if this illegitimate wave of repression is allowed to stand. if the powers-that-be succeed in suppressing or marginalizing this new movement. if people are once again ‘penned in-both literally and symbolically-things will be much worse.
What Occupiers, 99%-ers, and others do; and what mayors, cities and police departments, as well as state and federal governments, decide to do, are obviously central to where things are come the Spring Uprising. Lennon’s words still seem pertinent.