Police use of force and occupy wall street

The Occupy Wall Street movement has proven once again that the public at large understands close to nothing about police use of force, policies and basic constitutional rights. I wrote about this a few weeks ago right here, so you might want to read my thoughts there first.

Also, head on over to Marc MacYoung’s blog (and I’m ecstatic that he’s taken up blogging after I’ve nagged him about it repeatedly) to read a very good explanation of some of the key components people flat out don’t (want to?) understand about this issue.

There is a lot I could say about Occupy Wall Street, but I’m not going to. There doesn’t seem to be much of a point to me. I’m also not going to talk about police use of force again because I did that in that previous blog post already. There are however a few things I’d like to point out but before I do that, some more info:

  • I’m not a US citizen, I’m Belgian. So in a lot of ways, the Occupy Wall Street movement isn’t relevant to me. I have no say in US politics, can’t vote there, etc. Though the really sarcastic thing about it is that many of the decisions made by the US government have a huge impact upon my country and my daily life. But we’re not going to go there today either…
  • I’m not claiming to be an expert on police procedures. I have studied the topic quite a bit and have numerous friends and students who are both active and retired police officers. So I think I’m not talking out of the wrong orifice on this subject…
  • Though I do have some sympathy for the movement, I also think there’s a lot of bullshit going on. As much as the idea behind it might be sound, the way they’re going about it seems counterproductive to me. There’s also the danger of it spiraling out of control and leading to a very dark path indeed. But I’m not going to go all doom and gloom on you right before the weekend.
  • Re-read the previous bullet and remember it by the time you get to the end of this post… I am not saying the Occupy Wall Street is inherently wrong. I am saying I disagree with certain parts of how they are trying to achieve their goals. In other words, I dislike their methods, not their message.


That said, here’s something that is total bullshit to me: Watch the video below and then read this post here.

The key paragraph is this here:

Occupy CUNY and allied protestors who gathered Monday at Baruch College to express opposition to CUNY tuition hikes, unfair labor practices, and privatization were met with an increasingly familiar response: violent suppression of their basic right to dissent. Protestors were barred from attending a so-called “public” meeting of the school’s trustees and ordered to disperse. CUNY security and NYPD moved in with nightsticks drawn, turning a nonviolent protest into a chaotic melee.


What bullshit…

Here’s the thing:

  • A public meeting is indeed something an individual or a group of individuals can attend. No argument. But a mob of 200 people storming a building to get to the 14th floor so they can get into an already packed meeting room can’t. Why? Because if you put 200 people in a room that can only hold a fraction of that number, people will get injured or die. So just because you feel like protesting against something, doesn’t mean you get to hurt others. That’s why the police has to clear protestors from such a meeting.
  • Pet peeve of mine: the same public that is crying outrage right now would cry just as hard had the police not intervened if a bunch of protestors got crushed after flooding that meeting. Then they’d be howling about why the police failed to perform their duty. You can’t have it both ways…
  • If you think I’m full of it, then spend some time in angry or scared crowds that get trapped and see what happens. The authorities know there’s a potential for disaster then, even though you might not. Or even though you prefer to think it can’t happen to you because you are of peaceful intent.
  • The kicker is this: the authorities legally have to preserve the safety of the public. So if you decide to crash a meeting by flooding the room beyond capacity, then you are the problem. Not your intent, not the goals you want to achieve, not however peaceful things are inside your head. None of that is relevant if you and 199 of your buddies crush people to death in a stampede.
  • The peak of cynicism is this gem here: violent suppression of their basic right to dissent. Shees. You have a right to dissent, nobody’s arguing that. But you don’t have a right to put others at risk. It’s as simple as that.
  • I’m not going into the whole rights and duties thing again but here’s another example of people not getting it: you can’t throw a fit when you feel your rights are violated if at the same time you refuse to uphold the duties that come along with it. That’s bullshit a 5-year old tries to pull; it doesn’t fly for adults. If you’re so hung up on your rights, then the the government can expect you to stick to your duties as well. And that means that when a police officer legally orders you to leave the lobby, you do it, right now. If you don’t, then you are the problem. You are the one escalating the protest into conflict because a police officer has a legal duty to act upon that order. An order, BTW, he has to give to prevent you from endangering those people in that 14th floor meeting room and you and your buddies. So please, don’t piss down my neck and tell me it’s raining…


A final point about this “violent suppression of their basic right to dissent” thing:

I’ve traveled extensively all over the world. I’ve been to loads of countries that were nowhere near the level of luxury these protestors seem to have:

  • Clothes.
  • Food every day
  • A roof over their heads every night
  • Enough money so they can protest and not have to work all day
  • Enough money to buy cellphones and cameras so they can record the “police brutality”.
  • I could go on for a while here…

In those countries, the people would absolutely love to have the kind of “police violence” the Occupy Wall Street protesters get. They would see that stuff and ask where to sign on the dotted line, right away, no questions asked. Simply because they don’t even get a basic right to live, let alone dissent. Their government and its police branch kills at random to show how much it cares about their right to dissent.




That’s what a real police state looks like. That’s what reality is like for millions of people every day around the globe. And if they protest to change the situation, they get tortured or killed.

You want to talk about police brutality or claim you live in a police state while you’re Occupying Wall Street and get pepper-sprayed or handcuffed? Get some frikkin’ perspective, have a healthy dose of STFU and go back to posting your pictures on Facebook. You wouldn’t know what a police state is if an AK47 slug punched a hole in your ass.

My rant of the day…


P.S.: Read the comments policy before telling me how wrong I am about this. It’ll save you some time…







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  1. Those guys in Syria have balls like watermelon…

  2. Bob Patterson says

    I’m going to try and bracket out the politics and message of OWS. I will say this much: When to use force, and in what forms, is not clear cut.


    “Decisions on using pepper spray range by department and depends largely on the community and the police chief, Klinger said.”

    Prison was a different context and I am outdated. However, 15 years ago at the prison I worked at, we were not allowed to use chemical agents on passive resistance. We could only use them if things were getting out of hand, threat of physical violence, etc.

    Granted, prison is different than what police deal with. I now work at a university and what I find interesting is the disconnect between campus police and administration. What campus police do on campus can effect public relations. I would have thought that a campus like UC Davis with a history of protest, would have had it’s act together.

    For sure I bet theirs going to be much gnashing of teeth and a review of their force policy!


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