I’m a supporter of the Occupy Movement (see Occupy America) I only wondered what took everyone so long and why more are not donating, protesting, etc. This post, however, is more about how we deal with management of protesting members of the Occupy Movement.
A Facebook discussion broke out when a young person started kvetching a bit about the Occupy protesters not skirmishing with the police, who are also members of the 99%.
For those of us “of an age” to remember the Chicago Police Riots of 1968 and Kent State Massacre of students by the National Guard this was really an eye opener. Apparently the young of today do not remember how inadequate the powers that be are in dealing with protest without resorting to violence, extreme violence, and murder. At least the dogs have not yet been unleashed on unarmed and helpless people – although one dog was brutally abused and then shot to death by a D.C. cop during another type of peaceful march.
The problem is: What do we use police for? We have police – talking about our hard-working street and patrol cops – to protect the citizens of our country from criminal activity. Many criminals are violent. The police are trained in the use of violence in order to protect themselves from dangerous, violent, criminals.
The police have a serious job to do. They are experts in arresting drunk drivers, robbers, burglars, etc. They deal with many people who are mentally disordered, highly intoxicated on drugs and alcohol, and who are often armed with knives, guns, shivs, saps, brass knuckles and god knows what else. They are trained to subdue, and they are also trained to react quickly to anything perceived of as a threat that could end their lives. Most of them have never had to fire a gun in the line of duty. Most hope never to do so. They are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and our neighbors and friends and virtually all of them are decent, hardworking people.
Our police are not experts in crowd management and crowd control. They try, but they just don’t have the training and experience necessary. It is too easy for things to spiral out of control.
This brings to mind the video from (I think) New York where an Iraq war veteran was there observing the Occupy protests when the police lost control and the police had their own little riot. He shouted at them to stop abusing unarmed men and women engaged in peaceful protest. This gentleman and his fellow Armed Forces members are actually the best people we could use for crowd control.
Now there is a thought! We have unemployed veterans who know how to deal with crowd control. They know how to deal with unarmed men and women without abusing them. They have been trained in “winning the hearts and minds.”
Why are we wasting resources of our thinly stretched police forces? Each man or woman at an Occupy movement location could be doing what he or she really needs to be doing.
Cities could advertise for individuals from our large pool of unemployed Armed Forces who are trained in this sort of work, form an organizational structure in short order and have a special unit trained in crowd control. They could be on contract rather than a regular part of the force, so once the demonstrations were over, they could be decommissioned. In fact, these units of veterans could market themselves for crowd control and go from place to place, like smoke jumpers.
Peaceful protest is a right of every American. We can quibble about tents or no tents, we can quibble about various things, but we’re totally stressing out our police officers and taking away from their legitimate concerns.
Let us Occupy America peacefully and agitate for change. And let’s not allow cities to use police as a form of repression as is going on in some Arab states.