In the above video you can clearly see a police officer walk up to a group of students who are sitting down, and casually hose them with pepper spray. Unfortunately, this seems to be a common police response to peaceful protesters. Some of the more famous victims include an 84 year old woman, a 19 year old pregnant woman, a priest, and a small group of women who were just standing there before being penned in by police and misted with perfume de fuego.
A common argument I’ve personally seen and heard used to defend the officers is “They are just following orders…” and “the protesters did not have permission to be there.” Since when did the Nuremberg defense excuse someone from their behavior? Secondly, requiring “permission” to protest defeats the whole point of protesting. No shit we don’t have your permission to protest you, we’re protesting specifically because of you!
State and local governments have long been employing various tactics to crack down on dissent. Let’s not be coy here people. Bloomberg didn’t really send in the storm troopers to zuccotti park because he was concerned for the health and safety of the protesters occupying it. No, he wanted them gone and just needed some bullshit excuse since expressly crushing a protest because you don’t like the protesters is bad press.
No, permits and requiring permission from the authorities before you protest violates the freedom of assembly. Some might argue that permits and permission are needed so business as usual isn’t disrupted. Well what if the point IS to disrupt business as usual? What if the point IS to bring the whole system to a screeching halt? To make people be inconvenienced? What? No? We can’t have our protest in the first place? I’m sorry, you seem to be missing the point of the first amendment. It’s not there to protect people you agree with, it’s there to protect those you disagree with, no matter how fiercely you disagree with them.
Lastly, I just have to wonder about the contrast to how the police are treating the OWS protesters and the Tea Party.
The OWSers tend to be more liberal.
The Tea Partiers tend to be very conservative.
The OWSers show up with drums and tents.
The Tea Partiers show up with guns.
The OWSers protest the deregulated banks and corporations that destroyed the world economy and doomed my generation to a life of wage slavery, debt, and unemployment.
The Tea Partiers protest the half-assed regulation of the above mentioned banks and corporations along with universal healthcare.
The OWSers are a grass roots movement with no leaders.
The Tea Partiers are bank rolled by some of the largest corporations in the country.
The police do nothing to the Tea Partiers.
The police protect and serve the shit out of the OWSers.
I really have to wonder, how would everyone who is defending the police brutality respond if instead of liberals, the police were crushing the Tea Party? I bet they would be singing a different tune…