More Police Brutality at OccupySFOctober 18th, 2011
It’s funny how events unfold. After a week and a half going back and forth between OccupySF and Occupy Oakland I took on a pretty bad fever. So, I’m at home recuperating looking over my notes and trying to write some of my more general reflections. I was in the middle of writing a piece I’ve titled, “The Police Officer’s Dilemma” where I argue for added empathy for the police officers on guard because the economic environment effects them the same as everyone else, and ironically in their case the feeling of desperation and job insecurity likely incentivizes them to be more brutal toward the activists who are fundamentally fighting for them as well. Not half way through this article news reached me over twitter that OccupySF had been attacked by SFPD again. And then the videos started pouring in. I wasn’t on location, but the videos really do speak for themselves.
I’m being told five arrests were made. No report on the number injured. It’s hard to finish an article advocating empathy for the police at this point. When the camera panned over their faces in the second video the looks on the cops’ faces were just stone evil. Honestly it’s hard to write anything at all.
There’s so much to say about these videos I’m not sure where to start. The Occupation was moved from the Federal Reserve to Justin Herman Plaza, which I believe was a request by the police, but I missed that General Assembly. The confrontation began when police demanded that the Occupiers disassemble their canapes. It appears some Occupiers responded by duct-taping themselves to the canapes, which didn’t cause the police a moment’s hesitation in tearing them down.
Again the strategy of the activists was to form a human barricade when the Department of Public Works came to steal their supplies. But as I see people thrown to curb and dragged in the street by police demonstrating an unconscionable level of aggression my thoughts return to Rachel Corrie. She was an American activist who was killed in the Gaza Strip by an Israel Defense Forces bulldozer when she acted as a human shield attempting to prevent the IDF from demolishing a local Palestinian’s home. She has since been an international symbol of solidarity with the Palestinian cause.
Regardless of where you stand on the politics of Israel and Palestine, or whether you regard Rachel Corrie’s death as deliberate or accidental, I don’t think it is too far a reach to suggest that at the level of reckless aggression the SFPD exhibits, and the level of unwavering commitment exhibited by the Occupiers that we are seeing a scenario develop where this kind of catastrophe might just be possible in the near future. And similar scenarios are occurring across the country.
How long before this gets out of hand? How long before some half-cocked cop attempting to tear down the tent of some suburban anarchist takes a life? And then what happens? So I’d like to propose a different Police Officer’s Dilemma. Realizing that the possibility exits that someone may lose their life in your attempt to enforce these petty downtown ordinances, and hearing the pleas from the Occupiers to “stand down” and “drop your weapon,” and knowing that they are explicitly non-violent peaceful protesters, do you have the moral fortitude to disobey orders?
If you don’t, than I humbly predict that Justin Herman Plaza will from then on and forever be known by the name of the soul you take.
There is a saying in Palestine, “We love death more than you love life.” I think it is safe to say that the Occupiers love chaos more than the police love order.