Imagine hanging with your friend in a restaurant in New York City, you came down for the S17 protests; the anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. You participated in a march earlier in the day, a little pandemonium, but hey its New York City, its Occupy! You and your friend finish and decide to walk outside to catch what else is going on, not much happening at this street.
So you turn the corner. Suddenly as if a tidal wave had enveloped you, a crowd passes by. You join them, join the excitement, everyone marches on, in solidarity. Then suddenly screaming from the front, a push backward from the crowd, people turn, looks of fear in their faces. You have no choice but to turn and run or be trampled. Then you see the NYPD, running through the crowd, grabbing marchers by whatever they can put their hands on, a backback, a shirt, an arm. You are swung around and met with a uniformed animal. Your immediate response to this assault on your person is to jerk back, move to get away and the grip becomes tighter and this machine/human pulls you forward and holds you in way that makes you defenseless as moving will certainly cause a limb to break, you feel the pressure on your tendons, your bones.
This happened tonight in New York to two Occupiers from Manchester, New Hampshire. Arrested with many others for the crime of marching in the street. As of the 15th, Occupy Arrests reports 25 arrested.
Mark Provost, called and reported this experience this evening. He pointed out the NYPD policy of “snatch and grab” which consists of the NYPD infiltrating the moving group quickly and grabbing anyone at random. As Mark points this signifies a significant strategic switch in the way that police departments possibly all over the country, have decided to quell dissent. By removing random people at once and suddenly, pandemonium went out and dispersed the crowd immediately, creating panic which then led to the general disbursement of the marchers as a coalesced unit.
But the NYPD has behaved this way from the start, only the logistical circumstances led to a more organized arrest strategy. Pictures of protesters lined up along a bridge or video of Occupiers’ tents being wholesale destroyed worked against the city. The Tony Baloney’s of the NYPD, while no doubt still plentiful, are now better trained and ready to confront political dissent in anyway possible.
But the fight must go on. People must stand up in the streets, make noise, strike, write, vote, speak. This is democracy and the rage that has brewed against a system that has oppressed far too many people for far too long. A system that like a headless monster, will crush and devour anything in its path. Its rapacious appetite for profit, expansion at the cost of humanity and planet will not die until we stop it.
Yes Occupiers who can actually participate in marches and actions represent a few persons, but they represent the voices, minds and hearts of millions of Americans who have had enough. They have had enough of worrying about the next job they’ll have, worrying about paying the rent or mortgage, worrying about getting to work on time in a running car, about not getting sick, paying the car loans, bank loan, student loan, hospital bills and even the most basic necessities that so many before died for us to have the privilege to take them for granted, such as hot water or electricity.
Our democracy is under serious attack, from within and without. Fearful of falling into the abyss of unemployment and then possibly poverty and destitution, people cling to their jobs; their two or three jobs, keep their heads low, keep quiet and plod on. But they know what’s up and they do what they can, but only a few of us can get out all the time, some of us some of the time, some of us have to wait for the opportunity. Multiply the crowd at OWS by a quarter, would that represent those who can’t come? Multiply by half, again how do we know, but how many people have you talked to who know what’s up? Who know the fix is in. The only way to get out is to fight our way out with every tool we have.