brutality stupidity is fueling the OWS movement.
The OWS movement, to the extent that its about 1) growing inequality among rich and poor; 2) excessive influence of corporations over government; and 3) the reckless abuses of Wall Street financial firms is a noble cause, to be sure.
Unfortunately, it's also awash in myths and falsehoods.
The biggest myth is that the police brutality, abuse and incompetence we've seen captured repeatedly in pictures and videos has anything to do with the police opposing the goals of the Occupy movement.
Uniformed police offers are underpaid blue-collar workers, who typically work for local city governments and are subject to the fear of layoffs, home foreclosures, bankruptcy and all the rest just like everyone else.
Here's how these confrontations typically take place.
1. An Occupy Wall Street crowed gathers in a park, street, sidewalk or other public location, claiming their right to protest peacefully.
2. Local businesses and residents complain to the city.
3. Eventually, city government or the police decide to move the protesters to another location, either temporarily or for the duration.
4. The OWS protesters refused to move.
5. Police do what they always do when their orders aren't obeyed: They use their monopoly on force and violence to forcibly move and/or arrest those disobeying. This usually involves riot gear, tear gas, pepper spray and so on.
6. The cameras are rolling as police apply this force.
7. OWS supporters see the pictures and say: "See how horrible our opponents are?"
The trouble is, the police are not opponents of the Occupy movement. They just want protesters to obey the police about where the protests take place.
The police say: "Just move where we tell you to move and we won't have to arrest anyone."
The Occupy protesters say: "Just let us go wherever we want to go, and also allow us a little bubble of self government, and we won't resist any police."
The conflicts between protesters and the police are never about the substance of the Occupy movement. They're always over disagreements about where protesters are allowed to protest. And American police tactics tend to be heavy handed by international standards, so the image of some heavily armed and armored cop cracking down on peaceful protesters as if they were bomb-throwing revolutionaries or out-of-control soccer hooligans shocks everyone.
If you support the Occupy movement, your position may be that protesters should be allowed to go anywhere. For example, they should be allowed to physically occupy even the New York Stock Exchange itself, and thereby shut it down indefinitely.
If you oppose the Occupy movement, your position may be that Occupy protesters should be treated equally to other protesters, and allowed to protest but in a roped off area approved by the city.
There are honest differences of opinion about where protests should be allowed to take place. And these differences of opinion are the source of the conflict taking place between protesters and police.
Having said that, it's also true that some police actions, such as the pepper-spraying of UC Davis students, and the subsequent lying about it, are real transgressions that should be punished. Many cops are good, and are doing the right thing. Others suck, and are being idiots.
But whether you support or oppose the Occupy movement, let's not pretend that police incompetence demonstrates opposition to the movement. The police are not part of the "they" that the Occupy movement opposes.
On the contrary, these images are the main thing bringing support to the movement.
Anyway, that's how it looks to me. Am I wrong?
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