I've watched the Occupy protests growing from a handful of people on a September weekend to hundreds of thousands or millions of people across the world.
I think it's the best thing ever--and long past the time when such protests should have happened.
The big snag is that in the face of mainly peaceful protests, cops and governments have done the wrong thing, spraying, shooting and beating in an attempt to suppress the protests.
They didn't bat an eye at teabaggers showing up to Town Hall meetings with guns, or toting violent messages ("We came unarmed--this time!"), speaking of "taking their country back." They didn't blink when teabaggers assaulted black members of Congress. They didn't go after Sharon Angle when she threatened "Second Amendment remedies" if she lost her bid for election.
But let a college kid or an elderly woman or a retired cop sit on a public sidewalk (paid for and maintained by their own taxes), though, and the unconstitutional beatings and sprayings and arrests begin!
Unconstitutional? Absolutely. What the cops are doing amounts to punishment without due process--an assumption of criminality and an on-the-spot conviction. So much for "innocent until proven guilty." There's also the First Amendment's assurance not just of free speech, freedom of religion, and a free press, but also the right of peaceable assembly and the right to petition our government for a redress of grievance. Thanks to the 14th Amendment's "due process" clause, this applies to all levels of government, from the Feds to every city. Then there's the Fourth Amendment's protection against excessive force.
Back in my National Guard days, we got some of that same beat-on-people, spray-the-shit-out-of-people training. We learned how to club and poke with batons, how to subdue our fellow humans if some politician thought they were getting out of line. I never got called out to use it--and I would have refused to do so on people just sitting peaceably. It's simply not right. I took an oath to protect the Constitution--and, by extension, the People--from all enemies, foreign and domestic. How is an 80-something woman a threat to the country?
As long as they continue their violent assaults on peaceful protesters, they're nothing more than mercenaries for the scumbag elites. Those cops should be using their batons and pepper spray and rubber bullets on the bankers and politicians and predatory foreclosure executives and others--the real enemies of the state--who have screwed this country's citizens for so long.
Ray Pensador has an excellent writeup on the culture of brutality, "Take Your Hands Off Me" over at Kos.
There's an excellent write-up about pepper spray at Speakeasy Science--and some excellent comments there, as well; Leo says:
There seems to be a mentality of “I have pepper spray, so y0u’d better do what I say,” even if the order from the cop is unlawful. Does might make right? I thought we’d progressed beyond that caveman mentality. There’s a reason people employ peaceful protests and sit-ins. They’re not SUPPOSED to be convenient. If they were convenient, people could ignore them. Instead, they’re inconvenient… but also NON-violent. When the police use violence against nonviolent protesters (fire hoses against civil rights marchers, for example), all it does is make even clearer who is right and who is wrong.And even more on the evolution of police attitudes toward demonstrators can be found here.