Wednesday, November 23, 2011

NYPD... Wall Street's New Private Security Force, The Militarization

New York Light Show


Dorli Rainey

Jennifer Fox

UC Davis

"The individuals who linked arms and actively resisted, that in itself is an act of violence. I understand that many students may not think that, but linking arms in a human chain when ordered to step aside is not a nonviolent protest." -UC Berkley Police Capt. Margo Bennett, statement justifying the use of pepper spray on protesting students.

"Violence is an extreme form of aggression, such as assault, rape or murder." -Adapted from the Encyclopedia of Psychology, American Psychological Association.

The mayor didn't want any media to record the event and tried to limit their access, but pictures and videos were taken despite the wishes of the mayor and police.
The NYPD raided Zuccotti Park at around 1:00AM. Police like to do that. Wait until the subject of their operations are asleep, or otherwise helpless, to increase the cardiac arrest factor a hundred fold before they come in to deliver hell.
The Occupy Wall Street protesters had been in the park for almost two months, and Mayor Bloomberg apparently had decided their first amendment rights had expired and it was time for them to go.
“New York City is the city where you can come and express yourself,” the mayor said. “What was happening in Zuccotti Park was not that.” He said the protesters had taken over the park, “making it unavailable to anyone else.”
The mayor had taken it upon himself to determine what the OWS movement was doing in the park when the goals of the movement were consistently and intentionally ill defined to cover a broad spectrum of issues that face the country, and he was just dead wrong on his second point. Anyone could enter Zuccotti Park at anytime. The police were doing it everyday.
The mayor also cited unsanitary conditions and health issues as to why the park need to be evacuated. I hate to be the one to break it to the mayor but there are a lot of places in New York that aren't clean or safe. And these issues existed in Zuccotti because the city did not provide portable toilets or items that would have eased the discomfort of the protesters and assuaged those concerns for their health, as they do here in Los Angeles where it's civilized. Instead Bloomberg made the decision to make life for the Occupy movement as difficult as possible, having earlier removed generators that helped to keep the protesters warm in the upcoming winter.
Couldn't have that.
In the early hours of November 15th the police not only broke up the camp and evicted the movement, they destroyed their personal property as well, tearing apart and sawing through tent poles, ripping tarps, etc. When the park reopened later that day the NYPD made sure no one that came in would be staying there for very long.
Ironically Mayor Bloomberg's actions taking physical form through his NYPD, from pepper spraying helpless young women, to mass arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge and elsewhere, the general heavy handedness of the tactics used against the protesters there and around the country, and the final eviction itself, has galvanized the movement, its supporters in the United States and around the world, and strengthened its sense of purpose making it stronger, as evidenced during the November 17th "Day of Action," which sparked an round-the-clock series of activities, rallies, and protests throughout New York, including subways, public parks, major intersections, and... the Brooklyn Bridge (where a remarkable light show was provided to them from some enterprising members of the movement, on the blank face of the Verizon Building (pictures above)). Demonstrations took place not only in NYC, but throughout the country, marking the two month anniversary of the movement, including 500 demonstrators here in L.A. who disrupted morning traffic downtown as they marched through the Financial District where by coincidence the banks happen to be.
Between the day of the eviction on November 15th, and the "Day of Action," on the 17th, the following article appeared on the Common Dreams site, written by the author Ted Rall, entitled "Our F— You System of Government, Anti-Occupy Crackdowns Highlight Lack of Services." I happen to have a handy link to it right here:
Some might say that Ted is being a tad cynical, and I say yes! Delightedly so. He is also being very truthful.
And I also love the little logo that runs with the article. I'll present it below and dedicate it to Mayor Michael Rubens Bloomberg.

But let's continue, shall we?
"What could be more central to Occupy’s guiding philosophy than the idea that the rule of law has been subverted by corporate interests? In collusion with government functionaries and beyond meaningful accountability from the public, these interests have created a separate realm of law for themselves — one that orients the financial and political systems in their favor, to the detriment of everyone else. If this is indeed true, and the law itself is marred by a systemic corruption, then law enforcement — manifested physically in the form of police officers — is an appropriate focus for a social movement seeking redress of grievances... It is not good that NYPD officers now live in a world where coherency of argument is no longer even an aspiration. Having spoken to over a hundred police officers throughout Occupy Wall Street, about 70 percent respond to queries by saying nothing at all, another 15 percent grunt or mutter something inaudible, 10 percent make some kind of dismissive remark, and the remaining 5 percent are willing to have a human conversation.
If this is the reality of police behavior at a political demonstration in downtown New York City, what has happened to the reality of policing? The NYPD, ostensibly tasked with maintaining public order, has proven that it cannot handle political dissent without exerting anything less than military-style force. For two months, it has continuously abridged the rights of citizens to peaceably assemble, and of journalists to document these assemblies. It has lost its claim to legitimacy." -Michael Tracey in Salon, Nov 18, 2011
I often wonder about the type of person, or personality, that seeks out a career in law enforcement. I see the program "Cops," and other shows like "Alaska State Troopers," and just before these individual officers get down to doing their police business, they usually talk about why they wanted to become police officers in the first place. They also usually cite a desire to help others as a main motivator. But I wonder.
The job pays well. At about $37 bucks an hour, plus liberal amounts of overtime... that's a real living wage... not enough by far for me to put my life on the line, but enough for others to maintain a more than comfortable lifestyle.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not what you would normally call a coward. But I value my life as it's most likely the only one I'm ever likely to have, and I don't intend to waste it in any high risk job, or unnecessary war dreamed up by old chicken hawk men in Washington D.C. And that's why you won't find me climbing any mountains, or entering a steeplechase soon.
Having said that we do need police because there are lots of bad guys out there that do need to be dealt with.
I think potential police officers are attracted to the job because they know they will gain a certain amount of power and authority over others. That's one possible motivating factor. Their authority to arrest is exceptionally intimidating. So is their power to kill, seemingly with impunity.
There are other motivating factors involved I'm sure, but one can't deny the above. And there are good and bad cops, as there are good and bad people in society (please excuse the simplicity of the terms "good" and "bad"). Some may indeed enter the force with the idea of helping others.
But others do not. The police who evicted the OWS protesters were following orders, not helping others who were merely exercising there legitimate right to protest given to them under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. The cops who used excessive violence to harass the demonstrators were not "helping others." They were sadists abusing the authority given to them. There were police who actually enjoyed and joked about inflicting pain on these unarmed, fellow American citizens, some of these citizens veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations, having fought for their country to return to it and be confronted with this assault on their fundamental rights, rights that they thought they had been fighting to uphold.
"Much of the problem is rooted in a rigid command-and-control hierarchy based on the military model. American police forces are beholden to archaic internal systems of authority whose rules emphasize bureaucratic regulations over conduct on the streets. An officer’s hair length, the shine on his shoes and the condition of his car are more important than whether he treats a burglary victim or a sex worker with dignity and respect. In the interest of “discipline,” too many police bosses treat their frontline officers as dependent children, which helps explain why many of them behave more like juvenile delinquents than mature, competent professionals. It also helps to explain why persistent, patterned misconduct, including racism, sexism, homophobia, brutality, perjury and corruption, do not go away, no matter how many blue-ribbon panels are commissioned or how much training is provided."-Norm Stamper, ex police chief Seattle Police Department
Speaking of Seattle, we've all seen the iconic picture of 84 year old Dorli Rainey by now, self described "political activist and all-around troublemaker," as she emerged from a crowd of protesters a week ago Tuesday in Seattle after being pepper sprayed in the face by police.
Good job SPD. I hope you're proud. But thanks for creating the circumstances for the creation of that photograph which paints an explicit picture of your, and by extension, the brutality of the nation's police.
Yesterday the story of Jennifer Fox came to the national forefront. A 19 year old pregnant homeless girl who had been staying in the Occupy Seattle camp simply because she didn't have anywhere else to go. As the police moved in on the protesters November 15th she cried out that she was pregnant. "I am pregnant, I am pregnant. Let me through. I am trying to get out." Inexplicably one police officer kicked her in the stomach, and another hit in the same area with his bicycle, then pepper sprayed her for good measure. Fox claims that a few days later she became ill, and when checked by doctors she was told they could no longer hear her baby's heartbeat, at which point she miscarried. The baby she would have named "Miracle," was no more. Here's a video tape of her awaiting the ambulance November 15th.
The story and video are chilling enough, but read down at the comments section dear readers, for some of the publics sociopathic responses. It makes me ashamed to be an American.
The police have gotten a whole slew of new toys to help control crowds provided to them with lots of money from the anti-terrorist efforts of the Department of Homeland Security, and manufactured by the defense industry. All supposedly non-lethal of course. From old fashioned baton beating, to rubber bullets, the famous pepper spray and mace (now in convenient fire extinguisher size), to tasers, sound cannons and heat rifles.
As the lovely Rachel Maddow suggested Monday night on her program, since police departments have all of these new "non-lethal" weapons, the very fact that they are supposedly non-lethal gives them the incentive to use them more, and thus the use of brute force in handling any given situation increases.
Unless of course they're being video taped while doing it.
Lately some police are caught in the act of using excessive force and are paying the price of public scrutiny, although not usually commensurate with the degree of offense, for example being placed on administrative leave for chemically attacking unarmed, peaceful individuals. If you or I were to spray paint someone with mace, tear gas, or pepper spray we'd most likely become intimately familiar with the inside of a jail cell.
By now we've also seen the November 18th video of campus police at UC Davis, here in California, calmly and methodically pepper spraying a group of students protesting tuition rates, sitting on the ground, arms linked. If you haven't seen it you need to get out from under that rock. Here it be:
The next day UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza said the decision to use pepper spray was made at the scene.
"The students had encircled the officers," she said. "They needed to exit. They were looking to leave but were unable to get out."
Really!? If that were true why were the police pepper spraying the students who were sitting rather than those who were supposedly surrounding them? Beats me. I bet you it beats you too, dear readers.
The police officer who used the pepper spray, a Lt. John Pike, Chief Spicuzza, and a few others involved in the incident have been placed on administrative leave pending further investigation.
UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, who authorized police action, has been asked to resign, which for now she refuses to do.
But I call for her resignation as well. Someone in this world must be held responsible for illegal and ill-moral actions, or you know what happens? These actions will undoubtedly be repeated because there will be no consequence for doing so.
That's the whole purpose of punishment isn't it? To discourage the repetition of the action that caused the initial punishment.
The National Lawyers Guild Mass Defense Committee and the Partnership for Civil Justice filed requests the other day under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) asking the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the CIA and the National Parks Service to release "all their information on the planning of the coordinated law enforcement crackdown on Occupy protest encampments in multiple cities over the course of recent days and weeks."
According to a statement by the NLG, each of the FOIA requests states, "This request specifically encompasses disclosure of any documents or information pertaining to federal coordination of, or advice or consultation regarding, the police response to the Occupy movement, protests or encampments."
Those in the Federal government implicated in denying protesters their 1st Amendment rights, Mayor Bloomberg, Mayor Jean Quan of Oakland, Mayor Thomas M. Menino of Boston, Mayor Mike McGinn of Seattle, the UC Davis Chancellor, and some others, all of them should resign as those who used or authorized unwarranted violent actions from the police they control, and they should be held accountable for their actions, and not just pass the buck to the civil judicial system where the tax payers ultimately pay the tab (these cases will undoubtedly wind up in civil court anyway, but the perpetrators should still be held responsible).
That's why everyone one who breaks the law should be held accountable, from the offices of CEO's on Wall Street who caused the financial crisis and who have not been brought to justice by the Obama Administration, to the administrations of past presidents of this country who authorized torture and caused unnecessary wars. If we do not, significant change we can believe in is unlikely to occur.
Although the attention span of Americans and the national media has shrunk to a little more than a couple of minutes in recent years, we need to keep in mind it took years for the civil rights movement to see results, for Gandhi to oust the British from India, for the Vietnam war to end after the American citizenry had had enough of the war mongers nonsense.
For the OWS movement to have a lasting affect, which is it's goal, it too will take a while.
So for the media, the Fox Propaganda Network, Republicans, police and their corporate masters, get used to it. Occupation Wall Street isn't going away anytime soon.
Not until you change. Not until the country is returned to the people.

And then there's this from our friend Naomi Wolf:

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