And that is something one
should bear in mind when considering the subject of the attitudes and actions
of the NYPD regarding popular uprisings such as the one ongoing in Lower Manhattan.
In the first few days of the occupation of Liberty Plaza, I stopped by and spoke with protesters and police. (The latter only agreed to speak to me, with much hesitation, and, in a few cases outright contempt, if I promised not to record them or reveal their badge numbers.) I told them that I understand and experience the sort of fear that such dictates, issued from above, level upon a person. I averred the fear instilled in rank and file officers by their "superiors" in the department is similar to the fear that folks in the park possess for police in general.
Phil and his NYPD friends by Angela Tyler-Rockstroh
And the fear is identical to
that OWS protesters hold in regard to the power Wall Street exerts over their
In this, we, the beleaguered
"99 percenters," share a common plight--an affinity of fear instilled
within us by economic coercion.
One cop told me it was
nothing personal: He appreciated the protest because of the overtime pay he was
pulling as a result of it. I asked him if he feared that Wall Street might
squander his pension fund, and that, "if you come down with a case of
'billy club elbow' from beating on the folks here"that the crooks on Wall
Street might make off with your medical benefits."
Moreover, that if he saw a
man trying to rob the pizza restaurant on the end of the block, he had the
power to make an arrest, and, by that token, would it be possible for he and
his crew -- who it appeared didn't have a lot to do at Liberty Plaza -- could see
fit to move down the street a bit"to where the real criminal activity comes
down -- billion dollar heists, in fact -- and make a few arrests when the banksters
open for business tomorrow? He said he couldn't comment on the subject"but I
could tell he found the fantasy appealing.
But, bear this in mind, when
considering the uncivil attitudes and unconstitutional actions of the NYPD
regarding street protest such as the Occupy Wall Street activities ongoing in
Lower Manhattan, in particular, and the lack of deference to the rights of the
public, in general, displayed by police agencies, at both the local and federal
level: Police forces, by and large, are bureaucratic organizations, comprised
of authoritarian personalities who evince a topdown, militarized organizational
structure. Most of the individuals therein harbor a hierarchical concept
regarding the exercise of power and possess an unquestioning fealty to the
maintenance of order.
Therefore, the police will
serve as a defacto private security force for the corporate oligarchs and Wall
Street elite, as well as the structure of the National Security State.
Accordingly, the safeguarding of individual rights and providing security for
those groups and individuals bereft of power means little to them. Even if an
individual officer harbors sympathy for those who dissent, his mission is not
to protect the powerless; conversely, the mission of police organizations is to
maintain the status quo; and the status quo of the present order translates
into vast wealth inequity created by an entrenched system in place to protect
the powerful (in this case Wall Street Banksters) from the consequences of
their criminal activities.
(Apropos, the 4.6 million
dollars with which J.P. Morgan Chase, last week, greased the palm of the NYPD.)
Thus Freedom will be pepper
sprayed and thrown face first upon the pavement, while Wall Street Banksters'
Gulf Stream Jets lift off from the ground and slice the clear, thin air.
There is a sign in Liberty Plaza proclaiming, "occupy everything" and its sentiment arrives at the essence of the situation. Yes, occupy everything, starting with your own heart. Otherwise, it will be commandeered by the forces of the church, the state, the corporation, the bully on your block, the passive-aggressive friend who is "just here to help", even the demands of your own egoist agendas that bore to indifference the heart of the world and soul of the age. If you don't recognize your humanity, who will? Who is more qualified to occupy your life than you? Who is closer to the situation? Who else is qualified to arrive at an original take of the question at hand?
Occupy Everything by Angela Tyler-Rockstroh
And you might find the place
to make a stand in the struggle to retake your essential self is in public
space, among throngs of others engaged in likeminded struggle"among others who
have heeded a similar call and thus have arrived in those equally troubled
locations -- the U.S. public arena and the American heart.