Yesterday morning, at around 2:30 am, police in riot gear arrested 51 peaceful protestors at Occupy San Diego. The arrests took place at the Civic Center Plaza and Children’s Park. Earlier this week, Scott Olsen, a former marine, had his skull fractured by Oakland police as the police arrested protestors. Arrests have also taken place in other cities around the country, including Nashville, Atlanta, and of course New York.
I am an avid supporter of the Occupy movement. I attended marches in San Diego when it first began, and have joined the protests regularly since then. I have friends in New York who are a part of Occupy Wall Street, and send updates about their experiences regularly. I encourage my students to attend. When we talk about this movement, the question that constantly arises is how police clad in riot gear—who have more in common with the 99%–feel about attacking, hurting, arresting, and jailing peaceful protestors who are fighting for interests that include the interests of the police. We wonder how they feel working for the interests of the 1% when their interests are with the 99%. Indeed, even the Oakland mayor said that she and the police have more in common with the 99% then with the 1%.
In a time when society is growing more and more punitive—imprisoning younger people, undocumented people, the poor, women, people of color, and trans people—it is clear that any resistance will be met with punishment. This is very clear with the Occupy movements; police are used by the state to maintain the status quo. Corporations and big banks take advantage of those of us who are part of the 99% with impunity, and our resistance to this is met with ridicule—as exemplified in the mainstream media’s accounts of the movement—dismissal, and outright violence. Jails and prisons, already filled to capacity, and used to try to convince us that resistance is futile.
But resistance is not futile. The Occupy movement has already unmasked the greed of the 1% and the injustice of the laws that protect it. It is time for society to march toward justice and equality, and to listen to what “we the people” have to say, without using violence, aggression, and imprisonment to silence us.