What if I Say That We'll Never Surrender?
Instead of Radiohead, maybe we should send Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters to every occupied city in America, which is to say all of them, and maybe they can blast the riot police away like they did four years years ago in their "The Pretender" video. The top and third pictures were taken at Occupy Denver yesterday and the third one, if it isn't an iconic photo of police brutality and repression, ought to be. That cop pointing a gun at the photographer comes screaming straight out of everyone's most paranoid Orwellian nightmares.
With few exceptions, such as the police in Albany who defied Gov. Andrew Cuomo's and the Albany mayor's orders to arrest the protesters, the police who inexplicably defend the Powers That Be from peaceful protesters who are putting everything on the line for them and everyone else, have been justifiably given a collective black eye. This is no truer than in Oakland, where Scott Olsen, an Iraq War hero and former Marine, was almost killed by Oakland police (or one of the other law enforcement bodies assisting them) who fired indiscriminately and point blank into a crowd of Occupy Oakland protesters. Olsen's now out of danger but his troubles are just beginning since the tear gas canister that was shot into his face may have left him with permanent brain damage.
Jean Quan, the city's mayor, has proven to be just as clueless and inept as Rudy Giuliani had proven to be on September 11th. Quan had sided with the protesters in a carefully choreographed photo and PR op before siccing the Oakland police on them later that night (while she flew to the White House far from the scene of the crime), only to side with the protesters again when Scott Olsen was almost killed and certain people had a problem with that. Then she threw her new police chief and city manager under the bus by absolving herself of all responsibility. Then in a written address, she belatedly took responsibility. The rookie Quan also said that she'd love to meet with the Occupy Oakland crowd but was confused as to who their leader was.
Yes, she actually said that.
But Quan has proven to a symbol of the cluelessness of all leaders at the federal, state and municipal level. Until Occupy Oakland began setting up its tents mere feet from City Hall, Quan had enjoyed a reputation as "a progressive activist." But she's sending out mixed signals to the protesters and the police by agreeing not to evict them (for now) while promising to honor guidelines such as a ten o'clock curfew and a ban on tents in public areas.
Quan doesn't get it and neither do a lot of other leaders on both sides of the political spectrum. Quan, as with Michael Bloomberg and many other city, state and federal leaders, just don't understand that camping on public property while protesting corporate greed and political corruption is exactly what the Occupy movement is all about.
The Occupy Wall Street movement and its countless incarnations and analogs all over the world have proven to be quite an effective touchstone that tests the true mettle and allegiances of leaders across the political spectrum. And, almost without exception, even the so-called progressives such as Jean Quan have failed miserably.
This near-complete breakdown to address the concerns of the 99% (who are really just the other 1%, as Stan Banos at Reciprocity Failure informs us) betrays just how corrupt the political system truly is and how readily it seeks to address the peaceful exercise of first amendment rights with police thuggery not seen since the civil rights and antiwar protests of the 60's. The Occupy Movement reveals in the most vivid way the true allegiances of city, state and national leaders when their corporate benefactors are challenged and called on their unconscionable greed and arrogance. Who will they ultimately side with? What will they do if the protesters say that they'll never surrender?
Leaders such as Jean Quan have given us their answer.