During the last 2 months, I’ve been asked my opinion of the police actions against the Occupy protestors around the country. The question is posed to me because I am a retired law enforcement officer.
I agree with OWS (Occupy Wall Street) and the Occupy movement that our society has become seriously skewed in favor of the wealthy. One example is the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court granting corporations the same rights as individuals. A great deal of power is wielded by the wealthy to direct our society for their benefit.
I’d like to see the Occupy movement be able to maintain its momentum. It’s clear that they are making some in the financial sector uncomfortable. A story today on MSNBC reports that a lobbying firm is proposing to take action to discredit the Occupy movement. Their fee? $850,000. That kind of cash would feed a lot of homeless people.
The protestors have been mostly non-violent, which is more than can be said for how the police in New York and in some other cities have responded. I can remember a time, before I retired, when video cameras started being used to record the actions of the police. For those of us who were doing our job properly, we didn’t mind being recorded. As a matter of fact, I was one of the first patrol officers at my agency to choose a patrol car equipped with a video camera when they became available. The video clips of the protests I’ve seen for the past couple of months show many police officers using force, which certainly looks to be excessive. Apparently much has changed since I retired 4 years ago, because it looks like the police are not concerned about the possibility of excessive force allegations.
In January of this year, President Obama spoke on several occasions about the anti-government protests that were occurring in Egypt. His message was that freedom of expression was essential and violence was not the answer. Here is a link to one article that was published in the Christian Science Monitor. My question to the U.S. Government is this. Is it not hypocritical for the U.S. to tell foreign governments that they must allow their citizens to freely protest without the threat of violence when the same is not true for what is happening in this country?
In the end, the excessive force by the police only strengthens the Occupy movement. Perhaps our government should have paid closer attention to the advice they’ve been giving to foreign governments.