I'm writing in response to your latest piece of drivel on Occupy Wall Street's relationship to the police, this time at LA Review of Books. I had hoped that Bernes, Clover, and McClanahan's completely excellent takedown of your bull shit meant we wouldn't have to hear from you for a while while you licked your wounds. Alas, we are not so lucky.
Your explanation of Washington Square Park reveals just how little you understand the relationship between protesters and the police. The protesters in the park (more like 1000, btw) were shown the spectacle of total force by police gathered at the North and South entrances. There were easily 300 cops, with horses, police buses, vans and cruisers massing around Washington Square Park from 11 pm onward. There was no media to film the arrests that were about to occur. The cops had their batons out. In other words, they were ready to beat the shit out of us and arrest us all. It was gonna be a massacre.
So what did protesters do? We made a decision. We took four snake marches out of the park, right past the piggies all in a row. The cops, prepared for a showdown in the park and wanting to evict us, let us march out, and then were stuck at the park, unable to catch up with our marches. We outmaneuvered them, and for an hour marchers took the streets of the Lower East Side, Chinatown and the Financial District with barely any police presence.
This is what resisting arrest means. Not waiting for the cops to come at you. Not 'resisting police violence' as you put it, but flanking it, escaping the possibility of it, outwitting the police and leaving them alone with nothing but their batons in their hands.
As for your disdainful, classist assumption that the people aren't ready for more serious action, and they just want to march on the sidewalk and hold hands with cops and sing about the 99%, well, who were all those hundreds on those marches? Why do actions like the Brooklyn Bridge or Tony-Baloney's pepper spray marathon increase numbers and coverage, while huge numbered but peaceful, sidewalk bound, sit-in style actions like the march to 1 Police Plaza do not?
Most notably absent (from both articles, actually) is the role of police violence in the lives of minorities, the poor, and women. The 'middle-class' that would be alienated by anti-police action is much smaller numerically and much less diverse than the group of people who see the cops (correctly) as a force of oppression and routinized daily violence in their lives.
There has been a lot of hand-wringing over the absence of genuine proletariat at OWS, and much of this has been ascribed to the lack of a coherent message. But that's goofy. One of the major reasons, if not the major reason, you don't have the poor and minorities at Zuccotti Park in high numbers is because it is completely ringed by police, because people dont stop cops from coming into the square and arresting protesters, because it is, in fact, an unsafe place if you feel even remotely unsafe around the police. Which, if you have lived the kind of life experienced by the vast majority of this city, you do.
Cops, the only people in society who walk around with a utility belt of lethal weapons, produce violence. They make marches unsafe: so far no one has been hurt because they marched too fast into a wall. It is the police who make OWS unsafe, not the actions of the people, and to pretend otherwise is to collaborate.
That's how it works, Jeremy. The cops are not just the boys in blue. There's a little cop inside all of us, and we have to kill him. In your case, he seems to be at the controls. You might want to do something about that. If not, please spare us your belabored sincerity that amounts to little more than apologizing to the powers that be for protesting.
WHO Was Here