The video above is of the University of California police spraying pepper spray on students at UC Davis this week. I can’t even watch the video all the way through. This follows last week’s clubbing of UC Berkeley students, not to mention the scenes of police violence from Oakland, New York, Portland and other cities. There have been thousands more photos and videos of police brutalizing protesters who are just standing or sitting there, who aren’t threatening police in any way. After the UC Berkeley incident, the Chancellor’s letter basically said that the police were “forced” to use their batons and that linking arms is “not non-violent civil disobedience.” Huh?
If you think those are isolated, check out Joshua Holland’s “Caught on Camera: 10 Shockingly Violent Police Assaults on Occupy Protesters” in Alternet yesterday. I couldn’t watch them.
I can’t believe that anyone thinks that raiding camps in the middle of the night, or using batons, tear gas, and rubber bullets is acceptable. I literally just can’t believe that someone somewhere gave the go ahead to any of it. And the rest of us can’t pretend it’s not happening. Regardless of how you feel about the Occupy movement, this is not OK.
Here are some links to other police-related stories that I’ve been following
- Paramilitary Policing From Seattle to Occupy Wall Street – The Nation
- Occupy Movement’s “Day Of Action” in Pictures – The Guardian (check out #2 and 4 in particular)
- Retired Philadelphia Police Captain Ray Lewis Arrested at OWS, Calls NYPD Rationale ‘a Farce’ – Death and Taxes
- The cop group coordinating the Occupy crackdowns – SF Bay Guardian
- Police Response to Occupy Wall Street is Absurd – Forbes
The caveats being, of course, that there are communities that are brutalized by police every day and no one pays attention. Plus, similar tactics were used to suppress the civil rights movement, except then it was water cannons and attack dogs.
I’ve been absolutely thrilled with the amount of talking that has been going on about the Occupy Wall Street actions. When is the last time that so many people were talking so much about class and capitalism?
So many people are saying so many smart and interesting things, I wanted to share some of my favorites – and I hope you will too. I don’t agree with everything everyone has said here but I’ve refrained from editorializing, and although I’ve highlighted some of my favorite quotes here, most of the pieces are really just excellent through and through. As I was reading over them to pick quotes, I just kept thinking, “Fucking brilliant!” It’s been a long time since people have been so inspired.
- Crimthinc: “Dear Occupiers: A Letter from Anarchists”: “The problem isn’t just a few “bad apples.” The crisis is not the result of the selfishness of a few investment bankers; it is the inevitable consequence of an economic system that rewards cutthroat competition at every level of society. Capitalism is not a static way of life but a dynamic process that consumes everything, transforming the world into profit and wreckage. Now that everything has been fed into the fire, the system is collapsing, leaving even its former beneficiaries out in the cold. The answer is not to revert to some earlier stage of capitalism—to go back to the gold standard, for example; not only is that impossible, those earlier stages didn’t benefit the “99%” either. To get out of this mess, we’ll have to rediscover other ways of relating to each other and the world around us.” And then: “Police can’t be trusted. They may be “ordinary workers,” but their job is to protect the interests of the ruling class.”
- Isabell Moore, “Why I Support the 99%: An Open Letter to My Family”: “I believe this financial crisis is not our faults. But I do I believe actual people, banks and corporations, the 1%, made it happen because of their obsession with a “thing-oriented society,” as said by Dr. King. They have gotten richer during this whole thing while most of the rest of us have gotten poorer. This is the way capitalism works and I don’t like it one bit. We will all benefit from a shift to a “person-oriented society.”
- Malcolm Harris, Jacobin, “Occupied Wall Street: Some Tactical Thoughts”: “This is a marathon, not a sprint or a hamster wheel. “
- The New York Times Op Ed from Sunday 10/9, “Protesters Against Wall Street“: ” It is not the job of the protesters to draft legislation. That’s the job of the nation’s leaders, and if they had been doing it all along there might not be a need for these marches and rallies. Because they have not, the public airing of grievances is a legitimate and important end in itself. It is also the first line of defense against a return to the Wall Street ways that plunged the nation into an economic crisis from which it has yet to emerge. “
- Manissa McCleave Maharawal, guest post on Racialicious, “SO REAL IT HURTS: Notes on Occupy Wall Street“: “For some people this is the first time they have thought about how the world needs to be recreated. But some of us have been thinking about this for a while now. Does this mean that those of us who have been thinking about it for a while now should discredit this movement? No. It just means that there is a lot of learning going on down there and that there is a lot of teaching to be done.” Read the rest of this entry »
I have several quick thoughts about this.
1. Steve Jobs should not be held accountable for the faults of capitalism. Many of my friends are posting on Twitter and Facebook that iPhones are made in factories which have deplorable conditions, and they aren’t recyclable.
I don’t have the statistics on this, but I will bet you that most of the other electronics we use (as well as our cars, gasoline, and a lot of clothes and other things) are made in similar ways. Could Steve Jobs probably have done more to change it? Yes. Did he profit from it? Yes. Is this Steve Jobs’ fault? No.
I guess I am having a visceral reaction to some of my activist friends condemning Steve Jobs while at same time clutching laptops and cell phones. It is our entire global economic system that makes it possible for people to be poisoned in factories in Asia while Americans pretend it isn’t happening. Consumer demand – our own personal consumption, my consumption – drives this system and creates the need for poisonous factories.
Regardless of what you think about capitalism, Jobs (and the legions of people who work at Apple or influenced and helped him along the way) changed the way we interact with technology and each other, for for the better.
That is important. And good.
I’ve thought about this a lot – how to appreciate the good parts of a person while recognizing the bad parts exist? Very few people are saints. When I look at the people I know in my own life, which include well known punk rock scenesters or activist rockstars, very few of them are without fault. Some of them have big faults, like abusing their girlfriends or stealing money or otherwise being total shitheads – does this mean we should ignore their contributions that make the world a better place? I think we can accept the good and the bad. Acknowledging the good and the bad doesn’t mean that you’re erasing or ignoring the bad. I don’t think it’s asking too much for people to have a complex understanding of the way the world works, where things aren’t just “good” or “bad.”
2. Too bad that Steve Jobs died today because then the Occupy Wall Street protests wouldn’t get the coverage they deserved.
Sigh. First of all, the protests will never get the coverage they deserve.
Second, I would like to remind everyone of Manjula Martin’s excellent opinion piece last week on this very thing – the confluence of many things happening at the same time, especially on social media, and how it *is* actually possible to experience and understand and *feel* all of them. She was talking about how social media has turned into a space where we judge each other’s emotions.
In “The Week Social Media Broke My Heart,” she was talking about Troy Davis, the release of the hikers, and R.E.M. breaking up all happening at the same moment, but she could totally be talking about Steve Jobs dying and Occupy Wall Street.
I just re-read the piece looking for a part to quote, but the whole thing is just so good, I want you to read it for yourself. Here is just one small part:
Critics want it both ways: we want something to be pure and essential, but we also tend to retrospectively see events based solely on their context/reaction. Particularly in social media, context develops at an increasing pace: we condense the critical cycle into a series of quick “sharing” actions and move straight from “something happens” into criticizing ourselves and each other for liking things. In our rushed effort to provide the “essential” opinion, we forget the part about why we’re being critical in the first place: because the “something” happened made us feel something, and that made us want to contribute.
I totally want to quote the whole rest of the piece, but you should just read it yourself.