Occupiers are never going to be satisfied just sounding off about issues and waving placards. The Occupy Movement is about getting things done. The 99 percent is tired of waiting for answers and just actions from politicians who won’t deliver, and is setting up house with its issues on the street, and in the process, illuminating institutions and the public about what needs to change. But in the middle of winter, the movement is meeting with heavy opposition in places like Oakland, California, Washington, D.C., and New York City. Even so, that opposition is also leading to some positive change.
There’s no question that police have instigated violence time and again, and that Occupiers have remained amazingly peaceful in the face of this. Images of police dousing peaceful protesters with pepper spray have become routine on the Web. Police have beaten and Tasered demonstrators. According to a recent online article in The New York Times, more often than not, it’s been officers in white shirts, the higher ups, that have started the “laying on of hands.”
How long will this continue? How long will Americans continue to allow themselves to be subjected to the cruelties of a police state that indiscriminately abuses vulnerable people in the name of justice? Occupiers are just those individuals bold enough to show everyone what’s happening by letting it happen to them on the streets, in front of cameras.
What we are saying is that our system is corrupt, lacking in compassion, and often, downright evil. The same twisted mentality that can lead police to kick down a door and follow an African American youngster with no weapon other than attitude to the bathroom in his own home and shoot him in cold blood over nothing more than a baggie of pot, is the same sick, authoritarian mentality that has led police to wielding batons and pepper spraying the defenseless around the country, and in the process denigrating our system of truth and justice.
But it hasn’t been for naught. At the very least, thanks to media exposure and livestreaming, conflicts between police and occupiers on the street have been seen and heard around the world, and have catalyzed investigations of local authorities. Brutal, inefficient methods used during crackdowns by police in Oakland, California -- to name one instance -- have exposed deficiencies in the system and led many to question the decisions of those in power, including the mayor.
Investigations of authorities should be happening elsewhere.
The winter’s not over yet, but as we turn toward spring and the promise of more action and change, let’s make sure we stay strong and vigilant, especially about the cause of peace. One of the most important ideas handed down by our predecessors, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., is the notion that nothing gets accomplished unless peace prevails. Peacemaking requires patience and persistence. These are what made Mahatma Gandhi successful. And no one can claim to have influenced more people than he. Peace and love. It was to these that both Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke, and to these that we can pay tribute whenever we look back at any successes we have achieved.
Protesting over time, many of us have learned that a radical attitude serves far less well than practical solutions. Let’s continue to sign petitions, get the support of mayors and councils, turn around legislators. Let’s continue fighting to end pay-to-play, create committees to end homelessness, and make sure that the institutions that purport to mend society and help our children, really do. Let’s focus on improving communications among all groups. Let’s make it all happen.
Thanks to the Occupy movement, occupy no longer signifies invasion of the violent kind, as in Occupation Iraq. The new constructive meaning of occupy demands that we evolve not just our sense of belonging, but our relationship to land, state and country; that we revisit who we are and how we care for one another. It demands we turn the page, and change once and for all.