Wednesday, October 26, 2011

To Occupy Wall Street pt. 2: Occupy Oakland

Last night on the streets of Oakland police clashed with the 99%. They were armored in riot gear, and met hurled rocks and slogans with rubber bullets and enough canisters of tear-gas to fill the streets of Oakland with billowing yellow clouds of poison. "A literal fog of war" i thought as watched live streaming video of the carnage in the streets; a miracle of the modern age, that we can be witness to the battlefield, live and in real time, as we watch the atrocities that are committed in our name. And there is no mistake in my mind, this was a battle. You only have to type "Oakland" into the YouTube search bar to see video after video of senseless brutality that seems as though they would be more fitting on the streets of Damascus than in an American city. Scene after scene of peaceful demands for change being met with violence.

Scott Olsen, a veteran of two tours in Iraq was critically wounded after being hit in the face with a police projectile. He is in the hospital, his condition is critical. And though it saddens and sickens me to say so, this will not be the last clash between police and protesters and Scott Olsen will not be the last man to fall. Because America's police departments are no longer the keepers of our civic peace, but soldiers in an ever growing number of domestic 'wars.' We have made war on Drugs, and war on Terror, and now the Oakland PD has made war on Dissent. 

But violence must not be met with violence. The cause of the Wall Street Protests is righteous; economic justice and corporate accountability, and most importantly an end to the open corruption in DC.  

Sunday, October 9, 2011

To the Occupy Wall Street Movement

(photo by Bradley Roberge)
Recently in Florida Former Godfathers Pizza CEO/GOP Presidential Hopeful/Tea Party Flavor of the Week, Herman Cain, accused the Occupy Wall Street movement of "class warfare" and told the American people to "blame yourself" for being penniless and jobless in the worst economy anyone has seen since Hoover was president. Former Gov. of Mass./GOP Presidential Hopeful/First Class Empty Suit, Mitt Romney, went further, calling the protests "dangerous." And he's not wrong, the Occupy Wall Street is dangerous; but only to those who profit from the crimes and abuses of the status quo.

As of October 9th the Occupy Wall Street movement has spread to 25 cities with more protests in the works, including Washington DC. It has gained the explicit support of some unions, and the implicit support of others. After weeks of ignoring the movement, the "MSM" has begun to recognize the movement's existence (if only derisively) the luminaries of the Democratic Party (who can smell a change in the political winds as well as any) are already starting to suck up. I think it's safe to say that OW is a growing, long term (if not permanent) fixture of American politics.

Of course not everyone thinks so. The movement's detractors mock it's lack of cohesion, sneering at the multitude of messages much in the same way the early Tea Party was for it's early inconsistencies ("get your government hands off my medicare," etc.). But, the movement is young and, like the Tea Party, it will come into focus as time goes on. Those in places of power who would see those occupying Wall Street as a flash in the pan are deluding themselves. Because, for all of it's lack of focus, these protests are tapping into and giving voice to a very real, almost tangible, emotion permeating the nation. Fear.

Fear of the American Autumn that so many of us sense over the horizon. In that way it is the younger twin of the Tea Party. One may rail against the evils of big government, and the other against the evils of the big banks, it is the death of the American middle class they are both fighting against. Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party are two side of the same coin, two fronts of the same struggle; and we shouldn't let the Powers That Be turn us against one another. We need both government and corporations (i like fire departments AND cell phones, public roads AND light bulbs) but they must be brought into balance with one another, and they must both be made to serve the interests of the American People.