Saturday, November 19, 2011


In some ways, I am still very bourgeois. I usually like to cut the cops some slack. It's a rotten job with rotten pay, but it's necessary. The Port Authority cops were very good friends to us underpaid bookstore clerks when we organized our union at the World Trade Center Borders many years ago.

And then I see stuff like this, and that very white middle class assumption that The Police Are Our Friends just melts away in horror and disgust. Of course, not-so-white folk have had very different experiences with the police since always. I doubt any of this would surprise them.

I can remember a time when folks used to turn over cop cars and set them on fire in response to stuff like this. What does it mean that people don't resort to that kind of thing in this video? Is it a measure of the protesters determination to be peaceful? Is it that they are afraid?

I'm wondering if there's a concerted effort between mayors out there to "make an example" of people to discourage potential protesters. The New York DA plans to press serious felony charges against protesters who refuse to take a plea deal (a lot of them). All of this force and violence is so disproportionate. It reminds me of the police over-kill during the Civil Rights protests. Someone somewhere is feeling very threatened by all of these dirty drug crazed hippies and their kooky flower power.

To me this is an extension of the crap that all of us have to live with these days: all of those penalty charges, debts, and interest piled on top of debts, threats and demands from insurance companies, that turn life into such a God awful treadmill of never enough work, never enough pay, a soul crushing chase after money money money, always just short of breaking free. The cops are the ultimate collection agency.

All of this money and manpower is being deployed against unarmed and peaceful protesters. Meanwhile, where are the raids on Citicorp? on Goldman Sachs? on Bank of America? on Chase? I thought so.

A friend of mine from Argentina made the point that middle class Americans are now getting a taste of what their government exported to all the rest of the world, especially to Latin America.

Justice in an age when EVERYTHING is for sale. You can sit in an expensive corner office suite and commit larceny on a cosmic scale, and there will be no consequences. Hell, our government will just write you a check to get you out of trouble.

But if you so much as step off a curb or bump a barricade, then God help you.

Here is a now famous picture of 84 year old Dorli Rainey in Seattle after taking a face full of pepper spray.

Because you're never too old ...


Counterlight said...

Fucking two bit Nazis!

June Butler said...

Oh that is horrible! The cop should go to jail.

it's margaret said...

It was witnessing police brutality in Berkeley that truly radicalized me.

God help/bless Dorli.

it's margaret said...

Reported at CNN no less... The students are calling for resignation...

JCF said...

The spin from the UCD (my alma mater) Talking Heads has been PATHETIC. "The cops had to pepper-spray, they were surrounded by students!"

Surrounded by students in the middle of the UCD Quad? Imagine effing that!

I think the commonality is VIOLENCE. The violence of the 1% in sacrificing the poor/becoming-poor, to protect their tax cuts. The violence of the banks, forcing the becoming-poor out of their homes. The violence of the badge-wearers, who believe that they have the RIGHT to have others SUBMIT, No Questions Asked, or else they have the RIGHT to inflict pain.

As you say Doug, those not protected by whiteness or wealth have ALWAYS experienced the badge-wearers "Submit or Pain!" ultimatum.

But now the wealth-barrier is dissolving away for So Many, and it's Open Season.

Who do those cops think has been protecting THEIR pay&pensions? Cuz it sure as feck hasn't been the 1%!

"Which Side Are You On, Which Side Are You On?"

NB: as of 6PM tonight, UCD students are still occupying, surrounding admin bldg. Please keep them in your prayers...

Wormwood's Doxy said...

We had a cop in the family. (He's dead now--struck down by the same kind of flu that killed Jim Henson, of muppet fame.) He was the most sexist, racist, homophobic asshole I could possibly imagine. I shuddered to think that he was out there "enforcing the law," because what that meant was that he was cracking the heads of people of color and LGBTs--and turning his head when women were sexually assaulted. From the way he talked, most of his "buddies" on the force were just like him.

I do not have a good opinion of police officers. I know it's not fair to condemn them all because of this one jerk--but I kept thinking "Why is nobody reigning this guy in? Why is he even allowed to have a badge?"

What's going on all over the country has done nothing to ameliorate my prejudice.

JCF said...

Of the MANY things the USA needs, is to re-think its "Justice" system, from top to bottom.

While I'm sure a few enter to work in it out of a genuine vocation to the SEARCH for Justice---and many more approach it as "just another job" (for good or ill)---I think there are probably TOO many who enter it because they believe they have an exact, pre-formed idea of "Who the Good Guys Are (Me & Mine), and Who the Bad Guys Are (The Others!)".

Out of this facile, ARROGANT abstraction, comes all kinds of Evil: from pepper-spraying seated college students, to putting 41 bullets into Amadou Diallo (memory eternal: a black African in NYC who merely reached for his vestpocket wallet when a cop demanded his ID. Summary execution is what he got)

{further thought}

I think we're really seeing the GENIUS of Occupy now.

If it has JUST been about taxing the rich (Yes!) or passing the jobs bill (Yes!!), then pepper-spraying college students at UCD would (legimately) be seen as a "diversion".

But in Occupy Everywhere!, it ISN'T a distraction or diversion. It's fundamental! As fundamental as Zucotti Park. As fundamental as EVERY Occupy.

WE ARE THE 99%!!!!

Tracie the Red said...

I am choosing to believe that the students are taking the high road and they want to do this as peacefully as possible.

I suspect they're quite idealistic, and yet savvy at the same time. I think they know that there are plainclothes cops infiltrating these protests all over the country, so they are all the more determined to allow those people to expose themselves for the agent provocateurs they are.

Did you see the Walk of Shame video, where the university chancellor walked to her car thru a line of absolutely dead silent students, all staring right at her? With the exception of the sound of her shoes tapping the pavement, you could have heard a pin drop on that video.

That video had me fighting back tears. I think the power in their restraint said so much more than if everyone was screaming and chanting and beating drums, etc. The energy of just the video was hair-raising.

So yeah, I think they all know that it's not violence that is the point. It's change, and they don't want to be forced away from that central message.

Power to the people.

Tracie the Red said...

I'd like to add, on Joe's behalf, this...

This statement: "Of course, not-so-white folk have had very different experiences with the police since always. I doubt any of this would surprise them"

...could read "Of course, not-so-wealthy folk have had very different experiences with the police since always" etc.

When a police officer looks at one's driver's license and sees that you're from the "wrong side of the tracks" one gets lumped in with all the other "niggas in da hood" (pardon my French, please as it does sicken even me to write such things) automatically. Not a good feeling.