Friday, December 16, 2011

Occupy Wall St - Don't Dream It's Over - Neil Finn - Crowded House

Over the past month a wave of brutal police attacks has descended on Occupy protesters and encampments across the nation, including surprise nighttime raids, unrelenting pepper spray and baton beatings and hundreds of arrests. Two days after riot police dismantled the Zuccotti Park encampment, during a November 17 "Day of Action" the NYPD left protesters bloodied and beaten and detained over 200, among them leaders of the large Service Employees International Union (SEIU), a city councilman and at least 26 journalists. Billionaire New York mayor Bloomberg unleashed the cops en masse and then praised them for their "restraint." We demand all the charges against Occupy protesters be dropped immediately!

Crackdowns on encampments in Oakland, Portland, Denver and other cities—launched under the pretext of supposed health and safety hazards—were carried out overwhelmingly by Democratic mayors in a coordinated effort to shut down these popular protests. So-called "progressive" Democrat Jean Quan, mayor of Oakland, admitted to participating in a conference call with officials from other cities nationwide to discuss how to disperse the encampments. Providing a grotesque justification for the Oakland sweep, Quan singled out "anarchist groups who have been looking for a confrontation with the police."

Amid skyrocketing tuition costs and school budget cuts, Occupy protests have also spread to the universities and come up against the administration and its campus cop thugs. When students at UC Berkeley were attempting to set up an encampment on November 9, police moved in with nightsticks, brutally clubbing protesters who were chanting "Stop beating students!" Graphic video taken on November 18, after cops dismantled the encampment at UC Davis, shows students seated with linked arms being pepper-sprayed directly in the face by police, resulting in several hospitalizations. In an open letter that same day to the chancellor, one faculty member noted: "When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats."

The FBI and Homeland Security are reported to have assisted the local cops, with the Feds spotted staking out Occupy sites. Last week, federal immigration agents took custody of one protester who had been arrested by local police (while meditating!) during the November 14 raid on Occupy Oakland. A native of Mexico, Francisco Ramos Stierle faces the threat of being deported, as hundreds of thousands already have been, under Obama's "Secure Communities" program. No deportation of Francisco Ramos Stierle!

Demonstrators across the country have been hit with charges ranging from disorderly conduct and resisting arrest to inciting a riot and assaulting police officers. Such charges are meant to intimidate anyone who would oppose the violence, poverty and exploitation that are endemic to the rule of capital. Despite the brutality against Occupy protesters, many still hold to the illusion that the cops are allies. In fact, it is the job description of the police to protect the profit system through organized violence.

These recurrent, naked displays of capitalist state repression against liberal but defiant protesters, students and veterans have generated widespread anger with the "powers that be." Suffering the unmitigated effects of the economic crisis—i.e., the closure of schools, high unemployment and the slashing of social programs—many are expressing solidarity with a movement that at least appears to be doing something to protest such ravages. However, the Occupy protests do not in any way fundamentally challenge the workings of the capitalist order, which is the root cause of misery and inequality. Notwithstanding the movement's insistence on having no demands at all, the program embodied in the protests is simple liberal reform.

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