Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fight The Power

Police Gas OWS Demonstrators in Oakland, Arrests in Atlanta:

Riot police in Oakland dispersed hundreds of protesters with tear gas on Tuesday night as crowds tried to re-enter a plaza outside of City Hall that the authorities had cleared of an encampment earlier in the day.

The forceful response by the police to protesters in Oakland came as the police in Atlanta moved in early Wednesday morning to clear an encampment from the city’s central Woodruff Park. At least 53 people connected to the protest group Occupy Atlanta were arrested, and the park was cleared by 2 a.m. Eastern time, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.

By Wednesday morning in downtown Oakland, a dim cloud of gas still hung in the air over Frank Ogawa Plaza, according to images broadcast on CNN. A small number of police in riot gear stood by barricades around the plaza and a handful of protesters held signs nearby.
Now it's starting to get good, isn't it? Check out the lame excuse from the Mayor of Atlanta, Kasim Reed, regarding why the jackboots and body armor came out in the dead of night (always under cover of the night):

Woodruff Park, meanwhile, remained quiet and empty.

Organizers had urged protesters who left voluntarily and were not arrested to return to the park at 6 a.m., but there were none in the park at 9:30. About two dozen Atlanta police officers remained on the perimeter of the park, which was surrounded by 4-foot metal barricades.

Mayor Kasim Reed told reporters more than 100 officers were involved in the operation to clear the park, adding the protests, which started more than two weeks ago, had cost the city roughly $300,000.
No, the Mayor of Atlanta has cost the city $300,000. It was his decision to deploy the heavy police presence around the protesters all these weeks, then send the SWAT teams into Woodruff Park (an urban cesspool that hasn't changed in 30 years) to clear them. I'd send the invoice (assuming the amount isn't made up) directly to him.

Meanwhile, Oakland's response was even more over the top, replete with grenade launchers, tear gas, armored personnel carriers and M-16's (with "rubber bullets" of course; check out the picture of the guy with the head wound from said "non-lethal" ammo).

Now that Iraq is over, I guess all that defense equipment needs to be used somewhere.

I've been buried under work the past few weeks, so haven't written much about these Occupy protests. Frankly, when they started, I figured it was a minor flash in the pan that would end once the weather cooled off.

But it isn't ending, and the power-elite's response (of which big city mayors are a part), to mobilize the large, garrison, militarized police departments against the rabble, seems to be just beginning.

UPDATE: This article says the guy with the head wound featured in the Times piece on Oakland is an Iraq War veteran.

Scott Olsen served two tours of duty in Iraq before being discharged in 2010. Olsen survived Iraq. But he was seriously wounded Tuesday when he joined an Oakland, California, protest against the removal of the Occupy Wall Street–inspired encampment in that Bay Area city.

The precise number of injuries is unclear. But Oakland’s Highland Hospital confirmed Wednesday that Olsen, 24, was in serious condition.

Olsen, who now works as a system administrator for a software firm, had joined the Oakland protests with fellow members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, an advocacy group that has long sought to draw attention to issues of homelessness and unemployment among Americans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Nice. Nothing says "welcome home, veterans" quite like a rubber bullet to the head. Bravo, Oakland.

No comments: