20 November 2011

Salient images and video of some "Occupy" events

Photo by Joshua Trujillo/Seattlepi.com
Rainey was participating in a march that spilled out into the downtown streets Tuesday. When police showed up to control the crowd, she was on the front lines.  The picture, showing Rainey’s face streaked with pepper spray, tears and a milky solution used to combat the spray, has connected with readers and bloggers across the country.

Rainey told the The Associated Press she’s “pretty tough” for an 84-year-old woman.  “It’s a gruesome picture, I’m really not that bad looking,” Rainey told the AP.
The Fifth Column has some excerpts from her subsequent interview on Countdown:
Rainey said the protesters had decided to leave the intersection, and that police almost certainly knew this because of the protester’s “people’s microphone” method of communication. But before they could leave, police moved in and fired pepper spray at the crowd...

Rainey, who grew up in Nazi Germany, expressed her displeasure with the mainstream American media, who only reported “soft, fluff entertainment” instead of hard-hitting news.
A few days later in Portland:
Nichols said a policewoman jabbed her in the ribs with a baton and pressed it against her throat. That made her angry. She yelled at the officer, saying she was being mistreated. That's when another officer shot her with pepper spray. A photo by The Oregonian's Randy L. Rasmussen, which flashed across social media websites, shows Nichols was sprayed from a few feet away. 
Newt Gingrich weighed in:

Given his Washington insider status, it's not at all surprising to hear what his viewpoint is.  What startled me was the harshness of his language (the relevant text is below, but his recitation takes only one minute - listen to the tone of his voice in the video).
"All the Occupy movement starts with the premise that we all owe them everything." They take over a public park they didn't pay for, to go nearby to use bathrooms they didn't pay for, to beg for food from places they don't want to pay for, to obstruct those who are going to work to pay the taxes to sustain the bathrooms and to sustain the park, so they can self-righteously explain they are the paragons of virtue to which we owe everything.  Now that is a pretty good symptom of how much the left has collapsed as a moral system in this country, and why you need to reassert something as simple as saying to them, 'Go get a job right after you take a bath.'"
This is not a matter of simple disagreement; his comments are condescending and vitriolic, a reflection of how much he disrespects -- and I think fears -- non-Tea-Party protestors.

Finally (at least for now), UC Davis:
What is most impressive to me is the response of the pepper-sprayed students and those in the crowd:  continued passivity.  Also documentation with photos and video.  And some chants of "The whole world is watching... The whole world is watching..."

Glenn Greenwald has written a column on the roots of this pepper-spraying.  A UC Davis faculty member has published an open letter to the chancellor of the school, demanding her resignation for allowing this to happen.

But what really sent chills up my spine was encountering this video this morning:

Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi leaves her administration building late at night and walks to her car.  She is surrounded by what appears to be thousands of protestors.  It looks like she fears for her safety.  But... note the response.  Silence, transmuting the event into a "walk of shame."

It's absolutely chilling to see the discipline displayed here (in contast to the anarchic activities of G-20 riots).  This is how political protest is supposed to be conducted.

Let me close with some comments of my own.  I fully understand that the material in this post is the opposite of the "things you wouldn't know" that I normally try to feature in the blog.  But these events resonate for me on a deeply personal level.  I "came of age" in the late 1960s at a time of seemingly unprecedented social turmoil, and I cautiously began to explore the world of alternative culture and social protest.  In my sophomore year I was chairman of my college's undergraduate Lutheran committee and worked with the campus church's socially progressive pastor H. Paul Santmire to develop a series of programs for students.  I remember one of them involved screening Pier Paolo Pasolini's 1964 The Gospel According to St. Matthew, a controversial movie by an Italian marxist.  We even had to shift the venue because hundreds of people overcrowded the commons room.  We sponsored other lectures about segregation and sexism.

But while I was "dipping my toe" into this world, my little sister was diving in head-first.  Back in Minneapolis she was protesting the emphasis on grades in her high school.  She was a premier student-athlete, but felt strongly that numerical grades and class rankings were antithetical to the goals of education.  She declined her appointment to the Cum Laude Society and asked her classmates to do the same (I think only one did).  The school accepted her behavior with good grace (but didn't change their policies).  After graduation, she headed off to what was then the cauldron of social protest - UC Berkeley - but died tragically out there several years later.  She had a social conscience that was several log powers more powerful than my own; I know if she were alive today, she would be deeply involved with Occupy in one way or another.  All I can do is blog about it.

Interestingly, I have a family member who is currently on the faculty at UC Davis.  Haven't yet heard from him.

Enough of this.  Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Addendum:  Mel V. offers a link delineating how law enforcement officers in St. Louis successfully disbanded an occupation:
They didn't show up in riot gear and helmets, they showed up in shirt sleeves with their faces showing. They not only didn't show up with SWAT gear, they showed up with no unusual weapons at all, and what weapons they had all securely holstered. They politely woke everybody up. They politely helped everybody who was willing to remove their property from the park to do so. They then asked, out of the 75 to 100 people down there, how many people were volunteering for being-arrested duty? Given 33 hours to think about it, and 10 hours to sweat it over, only 27 volunteered. As the police already knew, those people's legal advisers had advised them not to even passively resist, so those 27 people lined up to be peacefully arrested, and were escorted away by a handful of cops. The rest were advised to please continue to protest, over there on the sidewalk ... and what happened next was the most absolutely brilliant piece of crowd control policing I have heard of in my entire lifetime.

All of the cops who weren't busy transporting and processing the voluntary arrestees lined up, blocking the stairs down into the plaza. They stood shoulder to shoulder. They kept calm and silent. They positioned the weapons on their belts out of sight. They crossed their hands low in front of them, in exactly the least provocative posture known to man. And they peacefully, silently, respectfully occupied the plaza, using exactly the same non-violent resistance techniques that the protesters themselves had been trained in.


  1. These images NEED to be shared & distributed as widely as possible, thank you for doing so.

    And I do love your 'regularly scheduled programming' as well :-)

  2. The establishment must be quite fearful of this movement to use such extreme force against peaceful demonstrators. The show of force is a message to anyone watching thinking they might join the protest, it's like "here, look what's happening to these protesters, I'm not going up against those police!". I believe this may have an opposite effect and actually help support the protest movement by showing the sheer mistreatment and disregard for the poor beaten down protesters by paid thugs. What is the type of country you want to live in? One in which you have genuine fear of saying anything you oppose about it. Or one where you a free to demonstrate your opinions to help incite change for the better. If the latter dies you are only left with the former.

  3. I have indeed been seeing this everywhere, but it's good that you're spreading the word as well. The more people that are reached, the better.

    I am ashamed to say that though I live in NYC I did not once go down there to Zuccotti Park because I am terrified of cops*. I am, however, going to move my money out of the bank to a physically inconvenient (but much better for my conscience) credit union.
    *what I used to describe as an irrational fear of cops, but it seems to have become quite rational.

    You might find this interesting as well-- looks like the banks are beginning to take #OWS seriously! http://upwithchrishayes.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/19/8896362-exclusive-lobbying-firms-memo-spells-out-plan-to-undermine-occupy-wall-street-video

  4. Just found this while video hopping after the UC Davis Chancellor video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoG9PmdGaT8&feature=related

    It is Keith Olbermann commenting on Mayor Bloomberg.

  5. One can not see such things and not comment. To do so would be to pretend to be unmoved, and that would be a statement in itself.

  6. Pepper spraying is bad policy I would have to agree. I would however encourage everyone to research the origins of OWS, it was started by a Canadian activist group Adbusters. Seems someone has an agenda for our country, like maybe sewing discontent. We still have way more material wealth than 90% of the rest of the world. Think about it !

  7. Well, our material wealth is obviously NOT being spent on providing you with a quality education, Sam... think about it!

  8. Thanks, I hadn't seen those yet. The timing's perfect - all this violence is happening just when the news was starting to get bored with OWS. They couldn't have done OWS a bigger favor if they'd tried.

    By contrast, you might be interested in this: http://bradhicks.livejournal.com/452788.html St. Louis police evicted their local Occupy camp without so much as raising their voices, and didn't even bother bringing riot shields or pepper spray. While I hate to see an Occupy movement get shut down so effectively, it's a textbook example of how police can quietly, peacefully handle protesters. The rest of the world should take lessons.

  9. the frightening thing is how casual the pepper spraying policeman seems to be going about his job. He looks as if he's out watering his tomatoes

  10. Fascinating, Mel. I've bumped an excerpt above the fold.


  11. @ turtle - that's an interesting link. Thanks.

  12. If you don't think someone should be afraid of a mob, you should look up the things mobs are capable of - or you could ask Muammar Qaddafi, Reginald Denny, Emmett Till, Nicolae Ceaușescu, Mussolini, most of the black people who lived in Tulsa circa 1920, et cetera et cetera.

    I live in Oakland and my office is two blocks from Frank Ogawa plaza (named after the first Asian-American city councilor, renamed by the OO'ers after a wannabe street thug) - all Occupy Oakland has accomplished is getting 25 low level city employees laid off, ending the progressive mayor's political career, lowering office rents 20% (though even that probably won't be enough to get businesses to move to Oakland or stay there now which will eventually bankrupt the city), getting a drug dealer killed (he was probably doomed anyway)and getting the middle class solidly behind the 1%. Well done youngsters.

  13. The pic of the cop calmly spraying demonstrators who are obviously not doing anything confrontational tells us a LOT about the tacit permission the cops are given.

    Such was the case in Germany in the 1920s, after WWI. I was doing research for a book and found out a great deal about this period. The courtroom judges in Germany were essentially the same ones grandfathered in from the days of the Empire, so they were very pro-authoritarian. This translated into a double-standard court system, wherein right wing groups were afforded very wide latitude, sometimes even getting off completely scot-free for murders for which there were witnesses. Any violence on the left, however, was treated with great severity.

    It was this right-wing judge inactivity which gave the Brown Shirts the encouragement to ramp up the violence. While it is not explicitly the same in today's America, the trend is very much the same. The believers in authority, like Newt Gingrich, give a pass to violence and incitement to violence (which is a felony) at Tea-Party rallies, and who support police brutality upon peaceful ralliers whom they disagree with.

    I've been saying for some time now that this trend is a very scary development. We all may say that, "It can't happen here," that Brown Shirts and Nazis aren't possible in America. But Germany back then considered itself to have the most civilized culture in Europe, and look what happened.

    We are on thinner ice than most people think. When believers in authority start feeding off each other with "Us versus them" talk, it isn't only the Arabs or communists that they decide to bash, literally. Ask the National Socialists of Germany at the time; they were the middle-of-the-road party, and all it got them was a lot of time in Dachau - or worse.

  14. "If you don't think someone should be afraid of a mob, you should look up the things mobs are capable of"

    I'll second what Bub says here. The mobs that I'm afraid of are the Tea Party one's with their gun signs and threats.


  15. Wow... Godwin's Law takes effect.

    1920s-1930s Germany was a very different place economically and socially. The fear of leftist socialism then was somewhat rational given the running violence throughout Europe and horrifying recent bloodshed during and following the revolution in Russia.

    There really is no comparison.

    The German media -- which normally is very attentive to, and obsessive about, any right wing oppression or nazi-like thing -- barely even mentions the Occupy Wall Street movement, and doesn't follow it closely. They are busy reporting on truly significant movements, such as those in the mid-East, etc.

    We Americans tend to get a little narrow-minded, and forget that we're pretty much all the 1% if you consider the entire world.

  16. These OWS "mobs", are for the most part peaceful mobs. I think they should be commended for their courage in standing up the violent police mob.

    (Interesting article and documentary film about changes in police tactics and and media's failure in reporting: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/11/why-i-feel-bad-for-the-pepper-spraying-policeman-lt-john-pike/248772/)

    If the OWS movement is actually trying to change things and make life a bit more fairer for everyone on the planet, then why not let them try? It is due to the Corporations within the 1% that have influence around the globe, that contribute to America's high status on a global scale. When it's profit before people, we're all losing.

    To criticize a peaceful protest movement like this, I think it might be high time you took a long hard look at which way your moral compass points. Look into it even a teeny-tiny bit, just scratch the surface of what they are fighting for and what they are up against and you'll see that you can't criticize these peaceful (hopefully they stay that way) protesters without feeling absolutely sickened to the soul by the enormous, greedy, corrupt, immoral structures that are the 1%

  17. Anonymous: "We Americans tend to get a little narrow-minded, and forget that we're pretty much all the 1% if you consider the entire world."

    When one considers how fundamentally broken (poverty, starvation, superstition) things are on a global scale, turning one's attention to an immediate problem - why can't humans evenly apply the rule of law and provide just governance to a small subset of their population? - seems hardly an exercise in futility.

    Why should Americans ignore subversion of democracy and concentration of power, exactly?

  18. Z.Constantine: I don't think we should ignore subversion of democracy. I agree that for the most part the American government no longer represents people -- it represents money. That's a problem. It's not a new or unique problem. Remember that in the country of our Founding Fathers, only white male property owners could vote -- a clear oligarchy if there ever was one.

    What exactly is your argument? That the rich and poor should be subject to the same rules? If so, it sounds like you're arguing for a flat tax, which would be much more regressive than the system we have now.

  19. Don't you hate it when you spend 15minutes writing a long reply and it doesn't even register, will copy this one to make sure :P

    Basic jist this time :)

    I linked to this page: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/11/why-i-feel-bad-for-the-pepper-spraying-policeman-lt-john-pike/248772/ )

    Which delves a little into recent police tactics. It also has a documentary linked in on the page involving police tactics and the state of media reports at the time.

    These OWS "mobs" are peaceful from what I've seen. They should be commended for the courage to stand up against the violent mob of police. Which can potentially turn on them on the whim form the Mayor (or whoever gives him orders).

    For one to criticize this movement, you might want to take a long hard look at where your moral compass points. To criticize the protesters, you would have to look past the moral and economic crimes of the 1%. The unparalleled greed, corruption and violence that put profit over people is sickening to the soul. It's not just in America that the 1% is ruling, they in the form of multi-national corporations stretching all over the planet and into every facet of your life.

    If these protesters say they want to make things a little fairer for all, why not let them try, hell why not help them.

  20. Stephen said: "If these protesters say they want to make things a little fairer for all, why not let them try, hell why not help them."

    'Fairer'... That's the problem. People disagree on what 'fairer' is. The 1% think it would be 'fairer' for them to keep more of the money they make. They think it's unfair for the government to take it and give it to others.

    As for the 'peaceful' protesters -- I wonder wonder how much the 99% would like it if the world's poor -- from Asia, Latin America, etc -- came and camped 'peacefully' on their property.

    Let me ask you, Minnesotastan: How would you feel if your yard was 'occupied'? Do you invite migrant laborers over for dinner? How much of your money do you donate to charity? Should I be allowed to force you to donate more, to a charity of my choosing? Why let the government do it?

  21. Fair? One example. How about Bank of America paying their taxes instead of foreclosing on peoples homes? Not just not paying their share, but not paying *at all*

    People from less developed nations don't need to come to countries that have a lot of money to protest. They can do that at home, against the same corporations. Although is they wanted to come over and join the cause I'd welcome them with open arms.

    Anon, go type in "farmers protest monsanto" & "bolivia protest water" into google and have a good look through them. Also watch "Inside Job", it's on-line and free to view. It's the absolute, sheer greed by the 1% that sickens me. I feel for these people all over the world. But I can't get a job to give money to charity, my government is too busy giving billions of euro to the banks and IMF at the moment to give a flying F*ck about the state of the country. Goodluck & Goodnight

  22. Anonymous: "What exactly is your argument?"

    Just because Americans could, in the spirit of giving, divert their Black Friday spending every year to solve world hunger (National Retail Federation, UN Food and Agriculture Organization) is no reason to assume that there aren't plenty of starving Americans.

    Anonymous: "it sounds like you're arguing for a flat tax"

    No, not at all. My statement merely reflects my belief that there are systemic problems which, until they are addressed, will undermine every redress and lead us back to the situation which we face at present.

    Treating elected officials like ordinary Americans (i.e. put them under constant surveillance), cracking down on corporate tax evasion, and experimenting with direct democracy seem like worthwhile ventures which have yet to be explored.

    It'd be foolish to claim to have the answers or a "perfect" system but, until we start trying something different, it's foolish to claim "we're working on it".

  23. Thank fuck I do not live in your country

  24. Stephen said: "Fair? One example. How about Bank of America paying their taxes instead of foreclosing on peoples homes? Not just not paying their share, but not paying *at all*"

    I forgot to mention the rebates! Refunds given to these corporations from the IRS. Tax Rebates for the tax they never paid. Bank of America (easy to use as examples) received $1.9 Billion in IRS tax refunds last year after it made $4.4 Billion Dollars in profits. But the dept is constantly shoveled onto the backs of the average workers

  25. Hey guys, I'm a little late to the dance here, but I wanted to point out that the UC Davis protest was specific to UC Davis; namely, they were protesting a rise in tuition costs.

    From Bob Ostertag's post at that other website:
    "Just six years ago, tuition at the University of California was $5357. Tuition is currently $12,192. According to current proposals, it will be $22,068 by 2015-2016."

    If these are UC students protesting UC policy on UC property, why are we including arguments about Occupy Wall Street in this discussion?

  26. boilingfrogs have a chilling video of police mentality

  27. I love your blog. And a big THANK YOU for posting this. I've sent this to everyone I know because there isn't a balanced place where all of this exists in one place.

    My request to you, is I've sent permalinks. Could you update it as more things happen?

    I know I need media blackouts because i slowly go insane, but when when you see somesthing, say something?

  28. @ DRC

    The blogpost included more than just UC Davis. There was also Newt Gingrich, Portland,Seattle & now St. Louis. All of them are due to OWS

  29. @anon 7:12 PM -
    "My request to you, is I've sent permalinks. Could you update it as more things happen?"

    I may update the post, but more likely I'll be adding new material as new posts, such as this -


    and this -


    I may drop the topic altogether for a week or two while blogging about chickenpox parties and leaf blowers and slime molds and histoplasmosis.

    I don't think you and your friends will have any trouble locating updates on OWS-related activities. Frankly, I think it would be hard to avoid such in the weeks to come.

    Best wishes,


  30. @DRS -

    "If these are UC students protesting UC policy on UC property, why are we including arguments about Occupy Wall Street in this discussion?"

    I believe you are wrong to characterize the UC Davis protest as simply a reaction to tuition costs. As I understand it, the Occupy UC Davis movement began in support of the Occupy Cal protest at my sister's old alma mater, UC Berkeley. The Occupy Cal protest was against a wide variety of perceived errors and injustices in the collegiate education system, not just tuition.

    But beyond such minor quibbling, I view all of the "Occupys" as having broader underlying themes involving personal expression and freedoms and basic rights and dignities.


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