“But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right. And so just as I say, we aren’t going to let dogs or water hoses turn us around, we aren’t going to let any injunction turn us around. We are going on.” (Martin Luther King Jr.)
I’m one who wishes that so much of the Occupy movement wasn’t about how the cops are treating people.
It’s what happens, though, and I’m convinced it’s why the cops are encouraged to use such heavy-handed methods. It’s a fabulous tool for distraction. For instance. On May 1, 1970 at Kent State, the students were protesting the war and its clandestine escalation. By May 3, they were protesting the presence of the National Guard. After noon on May 4, nobody was talking about the war protests anymore.
But, it is a good development I think that a U.S. envoy to the United Nations has noticed what’s gone on here in these Untied States.
WASHINGTON — The United Nations envoy for freedom of expression is drafting an official communication to the U.S. government demanding to know why federal officials are not protecting the rights of Occupy demonstrators whose protests are being disbanded — sometimes violently — by local authorities.
Frank La Rue, who serves as the U.N. “special rapporteur” for the protection of free expression, told HuffPost in an interview that the crackdowns against Occupy protesters appear to be violating their human and constitutional rights.
“I believe in city ordinances and I believe in maintaining urban order,” he said Thursday. “But on the other hand I also believe that the state — in this case the federal state — has an obligation to protect and promote human rights.”
“If I were going to pit a city ordinance against human rights, I would always take human rights,” he continued.
In case you’re not keeping score at home, Americans have been shot, beaten, and pepper-sprayed right in the face for exercising their Constitutionally-guaranteed rights of assembly and redress.
“One of the principles is proportionality,” La Rue said. “The use of police force is legitimate to maintain public order — but there has to be a danger of real harm, a clear and present danger. And second, there has to be a proportionality of the force employed to prevent a real danger.”
And history suggests that harsh tactics against social movements don’t work anyway, he said. In Occupy’s case, he said, “disbanding them by force won’t change that attitude of indignation.”
They drenched an 84-year-old woman in pepper spray. Think that’s proportional? And, La Rue misses something here. Whether or not the forceful tactics “work” is irrelevant. What’s relevant is that we’re not talking about how the naked mole rats who ruined the domestic and global economies should be frog-marched out in handcuffs and tossed into the slam.
Sometimes, I think there’s value in just saying something in pure black-and-white even if it’s pretty damned obvious.
Last night, well, I mean early this morning since my day job requires my presence until the wee hours, Papa Bonk and I are huddled around the cathode nipple watching Ketih Olbermann detail the stunning developments in the Occupy movement. They said there might have been as many people as 35,000 people marching across the Brooklyn Bridge last night, Keith reported. Not only that, but Keith was also telling us about Occupy surges in Washington D.C., where an Occupy committee has come up with a national budget plan of its own; in Seattle, and in other places all over the country.
We commented to each other and I think the feeling is mutual; Papa Bonk and I are both somewhat flabbergasted, in a good way, about the sheer awesomeness of the Occupy movement. And we both think it is good for these Untied States of America.
See, historically, when electoral politics fails us, it’s up to movement politics to pick up the ball and move it forward.
Guess what? ELECTORAL POLITICS IS FAILING US. Miserably.
This country is long overdue for radical policy reforms to help us recover from the terrible ideas spouted by right-wing extremist idealogues, this horrible idea that the “free market,” a mythical unicorn-like animal that lounges in fields of azure and smells like cinnamon and poops gold, is the only acceptable model for distributing goods and services, period. We need a government that once again says to the nation’s industrialsts, look, you can either invest some of your excess profits into your company in infrastructure and hiring, or we’ll take it and use it to fix the roads that you fucked up with your big trucks. Your choice.
Rather than where we are now, where we say to them, listen, you can either invest some of your excess profits into your company in infrastructure and hiring, or you can put it in your pocket and walk away.
That’s the deal, and that’s what they’re marching about. That’s the agenda. And I keep thinking that a smart national political leader would see that parade, grab the baton, and get out in front of it. But that’ll be the day.
By the way, nearly everything I wrote in this entry I stole shamelessly via paraphrase from radio show host Thom Hartmann. Thanks, Thom.