Police in riot gear forced Occupy movement protesters in Portland, Oregon, out of their encampment, and arrested more than a dozen people on Sunday. There were no signs of the “anarchists” with shields and weapons that police had warned were present among the protesters.
In Salt Lake City, Utah, police arrested 19 protesters as they pushed them out of their camp there. The Mayor’s office has indicated that daily protests will still be allowed, but that overnight camping is at an end.
There were 27 arrests in St. Louis, Missouri, as police enforced a curfew law at the city park being occupied there.
Denver, Colorado police in riot gear arrested 17 protesters as they removed them and their tents from a location near the Denver civic center. Police also indicated that daily protests would be allowed, but that there would be no camping in the city.
In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Mayor Michael Nutter has increased police presence around the Occupy encampment there, and has indicated they will soon move against the protesters because of “health and safety issues”.
Big Brother makes his move. Now we’ll see how determined the protesters are. Will they be scared-off, or will they come back? If the past is anything to judge by, whenever a popular uprising meets with violence the determination of the protesters grows. We saw that recently in the Middle East.
We are seeing how different our form of government is: they aren’t killing people outright, but they are willing to use force. Many politicians are sensitive to the fact that anything they do will become world-wide news almost instantaneously, and are trying to avoid the kind of negative publicity that Oakland, California received due to their mishandling of the Occupy movement there. Oakland itself has taken a much more measured approach, and has given protesters plenty of notice that they will not be allowed to occupy city property much longer.
There have been problems at the Occupy encampments. A man in Oakland was shot and killed last week. There are reports of drug use at the Occupy sites, and at least one report of sexual assault. However, as an ex-resident of Oakland I know that street shootings aren’t a rare event, and there is as yet no indication the shooting there was actually related to the Occupy protests. But any large, ad-hoc congregation of people is going to draw a problem element who see the situation as a form of camouflage for criminal activity. If the police were to concentrate on that element they might find the majority of Occupiers are simply citizens who are fed-up with an iniquitous system.
The news media still seems unable to decipher what the Occupy movement is about. There isn’t a well dressed PR spokesperson going on their TV shows and saying things in the kind of double-talk they recognize. And they seem unable to read signs. But mostly it’s not a simple movement, and the media needs things to be simple so they are easy to tag with buzzwords. The problems the protests are about result from three sources: corporate greed, political power, and media sensationalism. All three work together in a self-sustaining system that is indifferent to the individual.