Occupy: Violence

This thing is getting kind of ugly…


And only two weeks after Iraq vet Scott Olsen was hit in the face by a tear gas canister at Occupy Oakland,  it’s troublesome not only to see the violent direction that the movement has taken, but even more so to realize that these are all police-initiated actions, not scenes where protesters themselves were violent and put the local law enforcement officials’ lives in danger. It’s very clear that the local officials are becoming increasingly frustrated with these protests that are now going on 2 months in dozens of communities around the country, but not for nothing, these people wouldn’t be out in the streets protesting for months on end if they weren’t frustrated with something themselves!

It also brings to light a particular growing concern of mine, in that although American citizens all have “the right to peacefully protest,” many eccentricities about local ordinances and zoning laws have shown their faces with regards to Occupy Wall Street and it leads you to sadly have to ask the question, “Ok, so we have the right to protest … but where?” Occupiers in Zuccotti Park in New York City have been able to set up camp the legal gray area of privately owned public space, although recently things have gotten more strict as items like tents and generators were deemed to be fire hazards and ordered to be removed.

Others not necessarily participating in the actual protest have cited complaints about not being able to make use of Zuccotti Park themselves, thus raising the question of when does one individual’s right to use of a public space override another’s.

In my mind, the answer is fairly simple – this is the reason why we have true public spaces, and in the case of a long-standing event like the Occupy protests, if both parties can’t physically exist in the same space then priority goes to the vocal majority. Because the thing is, like it or not, this is a big deal, and if some citizens are going to complain about being “inconvenienced” by these protesters, then when their numbers grow to be larger than the protests themselves, then they get the soap box to speak their own voice. Until then, the one currently speaking happens to be pretty loud, and it would be a shame to see them quarantined off onto some side street, conveniently far from the very people who they are protesting, simply because we happen to have some local rules in place that seem to undermine the very freedoms that we’re so proud of here in America.

But as for the violence, such actions by the police in self defense might admittedly be warranted, but so far that’s never been the case. Violence for the sake of stifling the voice of these protests only helps to amplify their cause even louder as the machine at work attempting to silence the call of the people makes its ugly face known to the masses. Violence rarely gains sympathy, and these protesters seem more than willing to endure its wrath in the name of their cause.

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