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Are Occupy Protesters Really 'The Enemy'?
by Ritt Goldstein
With nationwide US protests celebrating Occupy's two month anniversary, concurrently condemning the 'war against dissent' that the recent wave of Occupy evictions bespeak, America is quickly coming to a crossroads. Over 250 were arrested Thursday in New York City alone, the arrests often accompanied by police violence, with even members of the press being reportedly abused. The brutal pepper-spraying of students at Occupy UC Davis makes a further statement. And recalling the 1970 shooting deaths of four student protesters by the US National Guard, the Kent State Massacre, I imagine many today wonder how far their government's violence will go.
During Thursday's New York City police violence, journalists were increasingly driven away from areas of police activity, allegedly for their 'safety'. As it turned out, that was good, at least for ensuring the safety of most journalists from the violence of NYPD officers themselves -- a substantive number of journalists were beaten, abused, pepper sprayed, and four actually tried seeking refuge in a church. Sadly though, even the Clergy is not immune to the police violence against Occupy being witnessed from coast to coast.
Appearing on Occupy Seattle's website, part of an essay by the Reverend Rich Lang described the Reverend's own experiences at a 15 November Occupy Seattle protest, noting: "The police were once conceived to be a citizen force created to serve and protect the public. Today however, the police have been militarized and view the populace as enemy combatants...alone in full alb, stole and cross --- six officers turned their (pepper) spray on me thoroughly soaking my alb, and then one officer hit me full throttle in the face."
At Occupy UC Davis, the police attack upon peacefully sitting students is difficult to watch, but this two and a half minute video does starkly convey the kinds of police action ongoing...
Occupy UC Davis pepper spray *graphic* 11.18.11
If any that are associated with dissent are simply perceived as 'the enemy', what can an already brutal police action become?
At the Seattle protest, it's been widely reported that police there attacked peaceful demonstrators with pepper spray as well, something which video evidence does seem to confirm. Among those reported sprayed was Reverend Lang, a pregnant woman, and 84 year old Dorli Rainey, a retired schoolteacher.
A Seattle PI photographer captured Ms. Rainey moments after the police had pepper sprayed her, leaving her face coated with the powerful but non-lethal weapon. One glance at this work in the Seattle PI photo gallery explains why overnight it has come to define the effective war now being waged upon Occupy and its supporters, the war Ms. Rainey was courageously protesting against.
Within the last week, US police have swept through the vast majority of America's Occupy encampments, cities laying others under effective siege. The role of the US Department of Justice, and the Department of Homeland Security, are the subjects of considerable speculation.
The fact of such a coordinated strike against Occupy, as well as the escalation in the already abusive police tactics, speaks for itself.
It's increasingly obvious to all that the raids upon Occupy's encampments were pursued upon the basis of manufactured pretexts, with the genuine aim being to strike another blow against Occupy, against 'we, the people', while using 'public safety' as a sorry 'fig leaf' to do so.
If any need reminder of how much America's police care about the public's safety, I won't again mention the pepper spraying of 84 year old Dorli Rainey at Occupy Seattle, but will note that the pregnant woman pepper sprayed there was hospitalized, according to AP. In further vivid highlighting of the basis for growing outrage, the following three minute video documents Seattle police 'broadly' spraying chemical weapons into peaceful protesters...
Seattle Police Joke About Macing Occupy Seattle
Aptly describing the kinds of police conduct being seen nationwide, another excerpt from Reverend Lang's writing upon his own experience that day observed, "the only tool in their (the police's) bag is brutality and like a drunken raging father beating wife and kids, the police have increasingly disgraced themselves".