“There are of course those who do not want us to speak. I suspect even now, orders are being shouted into telephones, and men with guns will soon be on their way. Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. ” ~(V for Vendetta)
Today I am straying from my normal pattern and addressing something which many might consider political in nature. I find myself overwhelmed by events taking place within our country, and can’t help but feel that it is necessary for me to share what I believe is something of utmost importance. I welcome your thoughts and discussions on this topic.
In 1937 the Supreme Court wrote, “the right to peaceable assembly is a right cognate to those of free speech and free press and is equally fundamental.” At the time, the court called the right to assemble “one that cannot be denied without violating those fundamental principles which lie at the base of all civil and political institutions.” (De Jonge v. State of Oregon) We have seen this basic right challenged time and again throughout the history of our great nation. Sadly, this past weekend it happened once more.
The story starts long before Saturday. On September 17th, a group of peaceful protesters gathered in New York City. Their mission:
On the 17th of September, we want to see 20,000 people to flood into lower Manhattan, set up beds, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months.
Like our brothers and sisters in Egypt, Greece, Spain, and Iceland, we plan to use the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic of mass occupation to restore democracy in America. We also encourage the use of nonviolence to achieve our ends and maximize the safety of all participants. ~https://occupywallst.org/
The protesters arrived and, for many days, were practically ignored. Few mentions of the events could be found in the mainstream media outlets, though social networking began to spread the message of their mission. That all changed on Saturday, when, as police have reported, roughly 80 protesters were arrested under charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. From what I have been able to gather across the few news reports on the events, the arrests occurred when the protesters moved into the street, marching through lower Manhattan.
They did not have a permit. They were blocking traffic. They were assembling on the sidewalks and blocking traffic there as well. They were standing in one place too long. They were breaking the law. In response, they were arrested. Simple, right?
Not so simple when you view the images of those arrests.
Even less simple when you watch the videos, like the one below which appears to show women randomly pepper-sprayed by two officers who move quickly in and out of the scene.
Not simple at all.
It brings up many questions for me. Most of them relate to what our role as citizens requires of us. I spent the evening pondering this, contemplating how a populace can even begin to oversee its governing body. It made me wonder about civil discourse and human rights. It made me consider the world I will be handing over to my children.
I don’t pretend to have answers, but I do know one thing: I couldn’t sit back while everyone remained ignorant of the events in NYC this past weekend and do nothing. So if you’re reading this and you haven’t heard about this protest, if you haven’t seen it covered in the news, then I encourage you to explore the social media outlets and the web pages that explain what is happening. It isn’t much, but it is what I can do.
Links via http://pantslessprogressive.com
Police pen up and mace female protesters [Raw Story]
Young man arrested simply for walking down the street [laurasthinkingwithportals]
Protester thrown over barricade by police [evanfleischer]
Protester shouts, “Is this what you’re about?”, gets cuffed [@LibertyPlazaRev]
In the News:
Occupy Wall Street makes the Sunday cover of NY Daily News [@DhaniBagels]
Gunning for Wall Street, With Faulty Aim [NY Times]
Arrests at New York anti-Wall Street protest [Al Jazeera]
Occupy Wall Street Calm So Far in Ninth Day [Village Voice]
Why ‘Occupy Wall Street’ makes sense [Amy Goodman]
Occupy Wall Street rediscovers the radical imagination [David Graeber]
Occupy Wall Street’s Leaderless Democracy [The Indypendent]
Must Watch: 9/11 first responder occupies Wall Street [evanfleischer]
Check out Occupy Together, a new site listing occupation movements across the country.
Watch the Global Revolution livestream.