Events like the one in the above video have been far too common in the police response to Occupy protests across the country. I do believe that Occupy Wall Street is at a tipping point, and that it must grow beyond and evolve away from the tent city occupations, but this police response is absurd and excessive.
Arrests exceeding 250 people followed protests in New York City yesterday. All across the country, cops are cracking down on protesters with force. I may be a critic of Occupy Wall Street, but the police are public servants, and public servants have no business treating the public this way.
By and large, Occupy has been a peaceful affair. Certainly pepper-spraying protesters while they sit calmly in a row like this is a gross abuse of power. It should have our collective blood boiling, whether or not we even agree with the protesters themselves. What was meant to be a protest against economic equality quickly morphs into a protest against the police state.
And make no mistake, the powers of the police in this country have grown out of hand. I’ve written at length on the militarization of the police, of SWAT team abuses, and the way that the war on terror and the war on drugs have both contributed to what is really just a war on individual liberty. Occupy Wall Street may need to grow up and evolve, but a far greater and more pressing issue facing this country is what to do about the security state we’ve erected about us at the local, state, and federal level.
Between the Patriot Act and the War on Drugs, it’s hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
UC Davis is forming a task force to investigate Friday’s events. The University Chancellor has issued a statement as well.
I have a follow-up to this piece here, noting that excessive use of force by police is bad for the police themselves.
Sunday, 20 November 2011
Police Response to Occupy Wall Street is Absurd - Forbes