OCCUPY L.A. – The Eviction ( PART SIX )By: Brett Redmayne-Titley
EPILOGUE: OCCUPY and the American Awakening. Preparing for the “American Spring”.
It has been a faced paced week for civil disobedience since the attempted eviction last Sunday night, Nov 27, 2011, of the OCCUPY L.A. camp. On that night and the following Tuesday OCCUPY LA showed why the OCCUPY movement has grown so rapidly and that this massive voice for social change it is here to stay.
On Sunday night, in Los Angeles, the dedicated participants of this fledgling democratic movement showed an on looking Nation that the right of the people to assemble can indeed be more powerful than the forces of authority. Despite the inevitable peaceful eviction two nights later, on Tuesday night, the OCCUPY forces showed that, for many reasons, these two victories are the first of many more victories to come.
Certainly it has been congratulations all round at the Major’s office and praise for the restraint showed by LAPD since the eviction. “I said here in Los Angeles we’d chart a different path and we did,” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told assembled members of the press. “The world was watching last night and what the world saw was a plan brilliantly executed,” Police Chief, Chip Beck, said at a morning news conference. Maybe not.
Further statements were ironically peppered with respectful tributes to Democracy. Sadly, these implied the OCCUPY LA democracy that Mayor Villaraigosa and Police Chief, Chip Beck, had cleared, so publicly, from view.
While the Mayor and the Police Chief smiled at the main stream press, behind the scenes almost 200 protesters languished on buses for 8-13 hours without relief. As reported by KPFK, and several independent journalists that interviewed arrestees, 167 protesters remained detained on buses without water, medical attention, or the use of a restroom.
Further unconstitutional punishment was metered out by Beck’s forces. Almost the same number of protesters were detained, by the imposition of very high bail amounts( $5000.00 or more), for more than three days despite California Civil rights statutes mandating their immediate release .As reported by Earnest A. Canning, National Lawyers Guild attorney Carol Sobel, notes that, “pursuant to Penal Code §853.6, the LAPD was required to immediately release most of the detainees with a written notice to appear”.
On the third day all but a few protesters were suddenly released without having to post bail.
The real goal of the eviction is much more far reaching than just Los Angeles. Despite excuses to the contrary, the ultimate motive of all city administrations, in removing every OCCUPY camps, is this: to remove the visibility, the appearance, the face, of the OCCUPY movement from public view. They hope to stop the exponential growth of this National movement.
In just a tad over two months the OCCUPY movement has grown beyond the expectations of the first OCCUPY Wall St group; and of the watchful and wary 1%.
This week Frank Luntz the conservative word- smith for all things GOP weighed in on OCCUPY before a conference of Republican heavy hitters. Luntz is famous for bringing to the modern lexicon such self- serving, disingenuous, and misleading political phrases as, ”Clean Skies Initiative” and, “Climate Change”, instead of Global Warming.
“I’m frightened to death”, cautioned Luntz to the conservative gathering. Refereeing to the OCCUPY movement he went on to provide advice to counter the growing influence this collective dissent.He cautioned against allowing the word” Capitalism” to become attached in any positive way to the OCCUPY movement.
This week the Senate has also shown that the Elite, the 1%, are also worried as Mr. Luntz, about the growth of the OCCUPY movement and all other voices of dissent.
This week the U.S. Senate voted 61-37 to pass the Defense Authorization Bill. Buried in what is supposed to be a finance bill was an ominous “attachment”. This language would essentially allow the U.S. military, which nowadays includes the C.I.A., to assume the same role and duties of the S.S. of Nazi Germany fame. With the broad brush of “anti-terrorism” this legislation provides an ominously vague definition of what is, or is not, terrorist activity. The legislative subterfuge that brought this landmark and constitutionally abridging legislation was due to an attachment, or “Earmark”, to the politically, impossible-not-to-support, Defense Appropriations Bill. Forces within the 1% are now on the offensive.
To understand the true depth of the malicious will of this congress to methodically eviscerate the remaining civil rights of every American citizen one need only look at two amendments introduced as modifications to the bill. Brought to the senate by the few last remaining senators still in possession of their constitutional faculties these amendments would have seemed self- evident to any “American” senator. Incredibly both failed.
As reported by Ray McGovern,” What speaks loudest to me is the fact that two key amendments did not pass. Senate Amendment 1125 would have limited the mandatory detention provision to persons captured abroad. And Amendment 1126 would have provided that the authority of the military to detain persons without trial until the end of hostilities would not apply to American citizens. Both amendments were voted down 45 to 55.”
It is unimaginable that the constituents that voted for these senators would support this bill. But as is, sadly, expected of our congress these days our “representative government”, again, represented the interests of the lobbyists and special interests; not the American voter.
On Sunday night we witnessed the OCCUPY movement come together due to a Call to Action. The voices of the 99% showed themselves in numbers greater than the forces of the status quo could effectively deal with. The Los Angeles Major’s Office, fearful of a political embarrassment similar to Oakland, Portland, and, New York, while out- numbered twelve to one in a Mexican Stand –off, realized that instigating violence was the only way to evict the protesters at that time. So, due to concerns about the forces of public opinion, and the 4000 enthusiastic protesters, the LAPD went home to plan for another day.
And plan they did.
Then, on Tuesday night, as all watching this story knew would eventually happen, the LAPD came back to finish the job. By all reports the cops were a force 1500 strong and prepared for all outcomes. After sending out an emergency call for re-enforcements the OCCUPPY LA protesters numbered less than 500.Despite this overwhelming show of force the OCCUPY protesters showed the discipline of an organized and non-violent movement. This helped make this eviction the second OCCUPY victory in two nights.
The movement is committed to non-violent civil disobedience. Since the start of the OCCUPY LA camp the protesters knew that the eviction would finally come. The occupation was the first act of civil disobedience, the maintenance of the camp and its appearance to all interested participants for eight weeks was the next act. But the greater sacrifice was always known to be the night the cops would come. As predicted some protesters would choose to merely leave before the confrontation, some would stay until the point of arrest and then leave, and some would choose to be arrested in the name of the OCCUPY movement and for the sake of their convictions. The self-control the protesters showed during this eviction process was a shining hour indeed for OCCUPY LA.
As the LAPD cleared the park the protesters did as they were trained, and as they had promised, to do. Although 297 protesters were arrested none were charged with any crime relating to violence directed at any of the cops. Protesters stayed until the last moment and, once confronted by the cops, either, not so quietly left, or submitted to being passively arrested .Of those arrested some turned co-operatively to be handcuffed, while many honored their promise to be “carried out” and lay down on the ground offering no further resistance to being handcuffed. The patron Saints of civil disobedience would have been proud.
Offering one’s self to arrest is the second most sincere form for disobedience. (Thankfully martyrdom is not, yet, necessary). When a person voluntarily creates circumstances where he will submit to certain arrest he is giving up, temporarily, his civil liberty of freedom. When that person gives up his right to freedom as a statement of civil disobedience he not only does so for themselves, but on behalf of the beliefs and opinions of the social movement, and to represent the other protesters.
To this end two hundred and ninety seven patriots showed their sincerity and dedication to the principles of the OCCUPY movement. These selfless acts served to further legitimize the OCCUPY goals and, by extension, attract further participants.
By summer OCCUPY will be a national force. Currently the massive discontent that is a large portion of the 99% is hibernating, handicapped in making its appearance by winter. The “American Spring” is at hand. Just as the first rays of dawn on the first day of our new Spring will certainly come, this Spring will see the thawing of the American consciousness. Due to the dire circumstances of millions of Americans the ranks of the OCCUPY protesters will swell.
The social and economic conditions that have spawned OCCUPY will certainly be worse come spring. With no effective alternative remaining to them within their government Americans will gravitate towards this protest in hordes.
Despite the tortured numbers in this week’s jobs report the unemployment rate continues to climb. The Obama administration arbitrarily casting off 468,000 unemployed this month as being,” No longer looking for work”, merely in order to perpetrate the lie of a 8.6% revision, ignores these jobless Americans. The conservative Christian right should be aware of what develops in,” Idle Hands”.
By all objective estimates the unemployment rate exceeds 14%.( see; Reich, Morici, DesBorcharde ) Once the additional distortion of the temporary addition of Holiday seasonal jobs withers back to normal the actual unemployment rate will likely exceed 16%. Every newly unemployed American will be a potentially interested party for OCCUPY. Certainly many will join.
Mortgage foreclosures, and therefore the homeless population, will continue to grow. The tragedy of losing their homes is much on the mind of millions of home owners and additionally their families. With the number of mortgages in default maintaining a steady national percentage certainly there will be thousands of additional foreclosures. And new members of OCCUPY.
Millions more are being dropped from the Medicare and Medicaid roles and social safety nets for the poor are being voted out of existence. Thanks to OBAMA’s lack of conviction the Public Option went the way of the sacrificial lamb meaning; that tens of thousands of Americans can no longer afford health Insurance. The drastic consequences of this are fresh on the minds of these many thousands. This lowest rung of our social ladder has been, previously, politically insignificant to the power brokers. This summer they will be reminded of one remaining constitutional fact: They vote.
Then there are those Americans who still have jobs, but have had their employment benefits cut, or reduced, or their pensions negated, or have used up their IRA’s in a futile attempt to stay afloat in this failing economy. And all the while they notice their company’s bosses and CEO’s and stockholders reaping record profits ( Citi Group this week announced the firing of 2500 workers sighting the need to streamline. This came after a record financial quarterly report, massive annual bonuses to administrators, and agreeing to a paltry $200 Million fine for SEC violations during the 2008 collapse. )
The administration could attempt to placate these growing masses but due to their continued mantra of supply side consumer based economics and that any program that directly benefits the public by any means other than trickle- down economics is branded as, ”Socialism”. This makes meaningful social change, via legislation, impossible at this time.
Thanks to the disinformation of the Cold War, and a population that knows little about political theory, Socialism has been demonized wholesale. Socialism has for decades been the counter-point to Democracy and its bedfellows, Capitalism and Globalization. To legitimize this artificial threat Socialism has been routinely portrayed as the Satan to our God of Democracy .As such any legislation, ie; road and bridge improvements, are attacked as, “Socialist Programs”, merely because they would directly, and effectively, help the unemployed. Using the capitalist, Ron Paul libertarian business model the only program for this, acceptable to the GOP, is a program that would require waiting until the roads and bridges are in such disrepair that private companies will step in. Presumably tolls will be charged in order for the public to use these, once public, facilities, since public taxes, for this same purpose, are taboo.
Then there is capitalisms alter ego; Globalization. In its infant stage it was first passed off as NAFTA. Despite all economic common sense on behalf of workers future wages, the administration, with the help of the Union bosses, conned American workers into accepting the much touted benefits of “free Trade” between Canada and Mexico. With wages in Canada comparable to the U.S. did any rational worker really think their jobs would not end up in Mexico? This opened the “Pandora’s box” that has sent American jobs overseas by the millions to India, Asia, China, Korea, etc, etc. With the benefit of hind sight can any American worker say that they would have voted for NAFTA?
The rise of capitalism and Globalization rhythmically increases the need for social awareness; social empathy; social concern; and therefore Social Protest. This is the Socialism of the OCCUPY movement.
History has no examples of trickle- down economics actually providing a quantified long term benefit to employment. Examples cited by conservative pundits are merely boom times of temporary speculative markets that all came back to earth. Post WW II; The Savings and Loan disaster, Clinton’s Tax on Social Security payments, Enron, and the mortgage “boom- to –bust” of 2008.
The news from Europe, and our own economic data, strongly suggests that a second recession is here. Yet, still our government continues to think only in terms of the flawed concept of Trickle- Down.
As congress continues to expel any legislation that will directly help unemployed, homeless, impoverished, and disenfranchised Americans, it sends a strong message to these Americans that it is not directly interested in their plight. Again, for many they will find a voice with OCCUPY. The forces of Capitalism bash OCCUPY with slanted definitions of “Socialism”. And they are, proudly, guilty as charged; but with the correct definition of the word.
With the onset of the worst of winter yet to come it is important to remember that; just like the OCCUPY protesters who are bundling up in order to hold their ground, they, and the 99% they represent, are anxiously waiting for spring. In just a few short months OCCUPY protests will not be hampered by weather. As a result protests will resume but those protests that before Winter had 1000 will have 10,000, those that had 10,000 will have 50,000.Because of the American awakening of the 99% caused, in part, by the catalyst of OCCUPY, in few short months, the first” American Spring” will be here.
Statistics show staggering numbers of legitimately unhappy Americans. Come Spring it will be time for Americans to “get off the couch”.