A police officer was stabbed on New Year’s eve in the process of re-evicting Zuccotti Park.
It is important to remember that the police officers too are the 99%, even if some don’t realize it yet. It is up to each of us to reach out to them and show them the truth. We are just as capable of free thought as the next guy and can understand a logical argument when one is presented to us. Common sense, however, dictates that when these officers are confronted by violent behavior such as stabbings and personally offensive language on the part of protesters, they like anyone, will be turned off by the overall message and are far more willing to do the dirty work of those in power. For these same reasons, I understand it is hard for some protesters to have force used upon them without returning force but it is still vitally important to the survival of the overall movement to remain non-violent.
There’s a grim undercurrent, following the Occupy Oakland eviction on Monday night, that Scott Olsen may be America’s Mohamed Bouazizi. If you haven’t seen the following video already, I urge you to take a moment and watch it. It really hits me in a visceral way, it fills me with dread and anger and nausea.
Last night’s march in solidarity with Occupy Oakland in New York City produced a similar video showing police clashing with protestors. Both videos use slow motion to help explain what’s happening, while elevating the emotional stakes.
In the second video police are swarming against singular individuals. But I also see a police force that’s outnumbered, that’s barely holding their own. While protestors are not responding violently, per se, this is clearly outside the bounds of effective nonviolent protest. Aggressive yelling is not the same as tackling and pinning somebody, but it’s going to increase the likelihood of escalations in violence.
The only way the Occupy movement can achieve meaningful change is through nonviolence. Similarly, the use of video to mobilize the public in solidarity must not overstate the case that police are wielding an inappropriate response against protestors. We only need to look to Oakland for evidence that current police tactics are dangerous and unwarranted. Or to Staten Island.
Goading on a conflict between police and activists, either as a release valve for built up frustrations or for the sake of damning YouTube case studies, is bad for the OWS movement. Obviously it’s bad for police. But it’s also bad for everyone else who are watching from a safe distance hoping that something transformative can come out of all this.