Tuesday, October 18, 2011

To Jeremy Kessler, Cop Loving Sycophant and Classist Coward

Dear Jeremy,

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

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Things are Getting Very Interesting Indeed

Wednesday, October 5th. 20,000 people gather for a Union rally in support of Occupy Wall Street, fed by a steady stream of students walking out of their colleges and high schools, who took the streets on their own marches to Foley Square. Permitted, the 20,000 were kept off the streets by police barricades, and shuffled slowly down sidewalks crammed with people towards Zuccotti Park. The numbers were incredible, but the march was boring, kind of wack.

A two hour general assembly.

Two snake marches take off from Zuccotti headed into the financial district. One stopped at Wall St. and Broadway, about 400 people milling around Broadway, sitting briefly, yelling at Wall St, then standing up again, working up the courage to try and take it. Someone tried to Mic Check (clearly now a tool of de-escalation, control) but they were drowned out by someone starting a countdown. "10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. CHARGE!!!!" People surged forward, and knocked down one barricade. They were immediately met with a cloud of pepper spray. A white shirt, as fat as all of them are, started swinging his baton in a 180° arc, slamming anyone around him, including two reporters who got hit in the gut.

Police helicopters buzzed constantly, the chop chop chop echoing through the canyons of the financial district, making it feel like a war zone.

A pair of kids in goggles clambered on top of a police car and jumped up and down.

A line of about 10 police on vespas drove into a crowd of 70 protesters. Rather than flee, the protesters held their ground, and the police panicked, stepping off their bikes. Protesters began knocking over the bikes, kicking them, fucking up their shit.

Five breakaway marches, six breakaway marches, lines of protesters snaked nervously through the financial district in every direction. I peeled out of one, waited at a corner for friends, only to find another coming from the other direction.

The people's mic is failing in Zuccotti, so people set up projectors displaying 30 foot tall messages on the walls of Men's Warehouse. "Great job guys! These marches look great!"

A cop is caught on camera saying "my little nightstick is gonna get a workout tonight."

The cops beat a man with nightsticks so badly that major hematomas form on his forehead and cheek. As he's being lead into a cop car, he cant focus his eyes.

A group of kids sprint through the streets, followed half a block behind by wheezing fat cops.

The last march, heading back to Zuccotti up Broadway, is about 50 protesters and 60 police.

Back at Zuccotti, the night is relatively peaceful. People eat food, and snuggle up against the cold.

Something is happening in the Financial District, something more than just a General Assembly based sit-in calling itself an occupation. You should be there.