The Crackdown Should Come As No Surprise
(Photo by Adam Lempel)
As I documented over a week ago, this was coming. The corporate elites have been gearing up to crush Occupy Wall Street. They wanted to take the battle right to the heart of the revolution, in Liberty Square. They launched a propaganda blitz, transformed Lower Manhattan into a sphere ruled by martial law, and then subverted the legal system to support their crimes. And their propaganda is so powerful that many people, even those who should know better, actually side with the state. Anyone who stands on the sidelines now is complicit. If you permit the corporate state to get away with destroying the First Amendment you deserve what you will get.
I wasn’t on Wall Street Monday night. I was out of the city and couldn’t return in time. My friend through Occupy Wall Street, Priya, was there. I read her text right before I went to sleep—“OWS raided now!!!!!” I called her first thing in the morning. She was hysterical. “It was horrible,” she said. “They just came in, destroyed all the tents, beat people up, sprayed people with pepper spray. They destroyed everyone’s property and threw the books from our library into dump trucks.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, even though I should have been prepared.
“Sorry,” sobbing, “but this is just very emotional for me. This was like home. This was a spiritual center, a community. And now everything’s gone. It’s all gone. So many people have nowhere to go.”
The NYPD, acting under the orders of Bloomberg and the rest of the power elite, orchestrated a campaign as vicious, deceitful and flagrant as Bush’s campaign to invade Iraq. The parallels are striking. As I’ve documented, the Bloomberg administration used the mass media, which is owned and controlled by Wall Street shareholders, to launch a propaganda blitz to plant the seeds for a raid on OWS. Stories from both sides of the political spectrum, from The New York Post to The New York Times, laid the groundwork by depicting the occupation as a health hazard, encouraging the mayor to “restore law and order.”
The campaign was based on lies of course, just like with Iraq. OWS posed no health hazards, just as Saddam possessed no weapons of mass destruction. But the power elites’ minions in the corporate media went right along with the disinformation-based line, calling us dirty hippies, criminals and crazy.
We had a security team patrolling the park at all hours to nip criminal behavior in the bud. We had a sanitation crew to maintain cleanliness at all hours. We had our own fire department and a health team of EMT’s, doctors and nurses to stanch the spread of sickness. And we maintained safe conditions in spite of the NYPD, which sent infiltrators, drunks and violent drug addicts to Liberty Square in an effort to agitate and create a pretext for a raid. And we rectified whatever mistakes we made by taking measures such as creating a women’s tent in the aftermath of the sexual assault incident.
Even if it were true that OWS had posed a health hazard, that would be entirely beside the point. The mayor and NYPD don’t give a fuck about your health. Have you been on the Subway lately? Have you breathed the pollution-laden air of Manhattan? Have you visited some of the other parks in this city, such as Tompkins Square Park, across from which I lived for a year and never dared enter at night, as it is filled with rats and disgusting? And what about the fact that 40,000 New Yorkers are homeless? None of this matters. Bloomberg and his cronies don’t care about any of that, just as they don’t care about the 4,500 public workers they plan to lay off even while Bloomberg shamelessly accuses OWS of harming local business, as if we, not the state, are the ones who have erected metal barriers throughout the Financial District.
It was merely a matter of time till they raided Liberty Square. And the assault was as naked in its aggression as the invasion of Iraq. In a carefully coordinated plot hatched with the FBI and Homeland Security, the state storms us by surprise, put lower Manhattan under martial law, shutting down the subway system, closing the Brooklyn Bridge, barring journalists from entering, and even creating a no-fly zone to ensure no helicopters could document the raid. As described above, the assault was brutal—nearly a thousand officers in riot gear invaded Liberty Square according to an eye witness who opened Tuesday night’s General Assembly, and there was a lot of blood—mass arrests, devastating beat-downs.
As I later overheard one officer say to his buddy in the force a few blocks away from Liberty Square, “they keep saying, ‘we’re peaceful protestors,’ and I say, ‘oh ya? Well we’re a violent police force and I gonna beat your fuckin brains out.’” They had a good laugh over that one. It’s fitting that these animals destroyed most our 5,000 book collection on top of all the other personal property. The first thing fascist societies do is burn the books. Just look at Nazi Germany, which despised intellectuals, liberals and communists.
It seemed lawyers defending OWS had an open and shut case against the NYPD. When I arrived at 2 PM Tuesday, most protestors surrounding the now bare Liberty Square had assumed we’d be granted legal authority to re-enter and continue our occupation.
But I was not optimistic. I started telling people not to get their hopes up because we live in a country where the rule of law is a joke; where the oligarchs control everything, not just Congress and the press but the legal system as well.
The crimes our elites have gotten away with during the past decade alone are staggering. To pick a few salient examples, the Supreme Court stole an election and handed it to Bush II; our government has invaded multiple countries without UN approval or any credible justification; the United States tortures and sends prisoners to black sites all over the world; and the state, through the Patriot Act and FISA laws, has disemboweled the Constitution, legalizing warrantless wiretapping and eviscerating habeas corpus. This little list doesn’t even include the maelstrom of earth-shattering crimes Wall Street commits with impunity every day.
Sure enough, the ruling came down on the mayor’s side. How could it not? No doubt, billionaire Bloomberg and his cronies hired the most expensive lawyers, trained to pervert the law and rig the system for the rich. And they’ve also got the judges in their back pocket. We didn’t have a chance; and that’s precisely because we were the ones acting lawfully by exercising our right to peacefully assemble in protest.
The ruling is almost comical. The author concedes everything, from the fact that “Zuccotti Park is a privately owned public-access plaza, created in 1968 by a City Planning special permit issued pursuant to then existing authority of the New York City Zoning Resolution… which encouraged the creation of space for public use in exchange for additional or ‘bonus’ development rights given to the owners of adjoining properties, Brookfield Properties, Inc;” to the fact that “the special permit requires that Zuccotti Park be open to the public and maintained for public use 365 days per year;” to the fact that it was only “some time after the Occupy Wall Street began,” that “Brookfield Properties promulgated rules which prohibited, among other things, camping and/or the erection of tents or other structures. Lying down on the ground, or lying down on benches…”
But none of this matters because we pose some kind of health risk, as if, even if true, the only feasible solution is a brutal eviction rather than merely telling us to stop the alleged “use of gas” and to clean up the supposed “accumulation of garbage and human waste in public places.” Apparently, we have curtailed “the rights to public access of others who might wish to use the space safely,” a blatant lie. The ruling is right out of that scene in Orwell’s Animal Farm, when the Seven Commandments of the society, after being ruthlessly revised by Napoleon and the pigs, is finally reduced to “ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL, BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.”
Indeed, this was how we were made to feel. When I arrived on Tuesday afternoon, it was a depressing sight. Our community had been destroyed. It was now being occupied by the criminals—the NYPD. And we just had to stand outside the metal barricades. Later, when they finally let us in after the verdict had been issued, cops in riot gear forced us to come into Liberty Square through one small opening. They made it as difficult as possible to enter. They searched people’s bags. They harassed us. They barked orders on their bullhorns. And they made it clear that we would not be allowed to set up tents. It was humiliating. It took great restraint not to spit in their faces or fight.
But we shall persevere. The general assembly was our biggest yet, as thousands flocked to Liberty Square, and the revolution will not be stopped.
Nevertheless, there are plenty of people out there, not just those who have been brainwashed by the right-wing propaganda machine, who side with Bloomberg. They see nothing wrong with the night raid. And more broadly, they see no value in Occupy Wall Street, branding us stupid lawbreaking hippies.
This is the ultimate testament to the power of corporate propaganda. In freer societies propaganda is far more important than in totalitarian states, where the government can always overtly use brute force to maintain control. The propaganda blitz described above was subtle, consistent with the idea preached by pioneers of corporate propaganda such as Edward Bernays, that the best way to control a population is to flood them with propaganda without their realizing it, to make the masses believe they have come to form opinions on their own.
After the eviction, The Daily News ran the headline, “Beat It!,” The New York Post was of course jubilant, and The New York Times ran a snarky story on its Web Site calling attention to Bloomberg’s tough struggle with his deep respect for free speech and the pressures to restore order; at one point the article singularly portrays local residents as relieved that the nuisance was over. Wednesday morning’s coverage is pure government propaganda, absurdly claiming that “Bloomberg and his aides tried but failed to negotiate with members of Occupy Wall Street” and “concluded that the protesters were unwilling to negotiate and unable to address their encampment’s growing problems on their own.” Ultimately, “inaction was not an option,’ the mayor said on Tuesday morning. ‘I could not wait for someone in the park to get killed or to injure another first responder before acting,’” which is why he ordered the police to mercilessly beat the shit out of innocent protestors and later ominously declared, “no right is absolute.”
But let me tell you something. Everyone who opposes the revolution is digging his own grave. Those among the 99% who are toiling away in dead-end jobs with no hope to form unions and demand a living wage are deceiving themselves if they think they can get rich some day. You will almost certainly have to scratch and struggle to make ends meet for the rest of your life if things don’t change. The police officers who trample on our rights and beat us up will see their pensions privatized and their budgets cut. And the rich, the masters of our neo-feudalist society, will likely see all their wealth become worthless when the next boom-bust cycle comes crashing down and ultimately, they will see their cities drowned under water as sea-levels continue to rise, if they haven’t been obliterated by nuclear bombs already.
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Tagged with: 40000 homeless in new york • Animal Farm • Bloomberg • corporate elites • Eviction • FBI and Homeland Security • martial law • neo-feudalist society • no right is absolute • NYPD • Occupy Wall Street • Orwell • OWS raided now! • people's library • pepper spray • police brutality • propaganda • rule of law is a joke • ruling
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