Tunisia, Egypt, Greece, Libya, Wall Street; The United States should be set to experience the same sort of grassroots, youth-driven uprising that we’ve recently seen surge in other nations. Yesterday, police led protestors onto the Brooklyn Bridge, penned them off, and then arrested more than 700. This happened just one week after explicit videos of police brutality hit the Internet, showing an unprovoked police captain pepper-spraying a group of young women, as well as numerous excessively violent take-downs of peaceful protestors. While these videos have stirred shock, anger, and allegations of excessive force, they’ve also, I believe, dissuaded older, more middle-of-the-road, and even conservative leaning concerned citizens from joining the fray. People are pissed off. There are distant, and not so distant sounds of underground rumblings getting ready to erupt, and in my view, these numerous unwarranted arrests along with the use of excessive force on peaceful protestors are all part of a systematic strategy to deter people from joining the cause.
Last week, I went downtown to #OccupyWallStreet to see if I could take some pictures, and even show support for the cause. What I found hanging out in Liberty Park was a bunch of mostly young grunge-y looking folks who looked like they might be leftovers from a Lollapalooza festival; shirtless women, pot-smoking kids, boys banging drums, girls braiding one another's hair, etc. The crowd almost immediately erased any feelings of significance or urgency, and gave the whole movement an amateurish, disorganized impression. That was last Sunday, the day after the pepper spray and violent arrest incidents, and the systematic operations of the NYPD seemed to have accomplished their goal of stripping the demonstration of its legitimacy.
At first, I wondered why the police; hard working union folk who make roughly fifty grand a year, would side with the establishment over the principles of the demonstrators. Then it dawned on me that the police work for the Mayor, and the Mayor is a billionaire, who, while perhaps partly responsible for a decrease in crime, is also mostly more concerned with tourist revenue than with the city’s public education or transportation departments. Also this last week, it has come under some public scrutiny that JP Morgan Chase donated an unprecedented 4.6 million dollars to the NYPD, the largest donation in their foundation's history, so it should come as no surprise that the po-po are working for the man rather than the people.
The occupation of Wall Street has been going on for twenty two days now, and it doesn't seem as if there's any end on the near horizon. Even if the police have managed to intermittently make the crowd look like a bunch of disenfranchised misfits, the fact that the Teamsters Union, the New York Transit Workers Union, and even United Airlines pilots joined the protest is compelling evidence of the demonstration's equilateral message. The ramifications of corporate greed, social and economic inequities, and this country's current political oligarchy are worldwide - no one is invulnerable to its consequences. This relatively small movement downtown is only the beginning. It seems that the revolution has started, and this time it will be webevised.