Sunday, November 20, 2011

A discussion about the #occupy protests

I had an interesting discussion with some people last night regarding what could ultimately come of the #occupy protests.

One of the questions asked was, what will happen if the protesters finally start to snap due to mistreatment by police? I don't think they'll become violent. But it's pretty damn scary to think what could happen if they did. I mean, we have military folk out there on the protesters' side, both vets and active. Not every protester is a member of the military, but there are quite a few, from what I've heard. This isn't just "a bunch of hippies."

We're talking about people trained for war, most of whom have actually seen action. And they're getting beaten and pepper sprayed, and man, I don't know about you, but I would be getting pretty pissed. It's remarkable they've stuck to the non-violent protest path for the most part as they have. (Yes, I know there have been a few incidents, but those are pretty few and far between at the moment.)

So, y'know what? If I were those cops, I'd be showing a bit more respect, and a lot less willingness to spray people with painful, burning chemicals and beating on them with sticks, and throwing them around, when all they're doing is sitting or standing there, and chanting. Because just sitting or standing there and chanting is a damn site better than the alternative.


  1. In short, the police want a fight.

  2. I don't know if that's what they want or not, because I'm not a mindreader. I do agree that their behavior is indicative of someone trying to pick a fight, however.

  3. One of my earliest memories is sitting in the back seat of a black and white leaning on the arm of a patrol officer while he read me a Golden Book. I was about 3-4 years old and my dad was inside the house where a man had been murdered collecting evidence for analysis by the crime lab. This was in the early 50's and on the weekends, when he was on call, Dad took me along. Obviously, I'm not unbiased.

    Yesterday, when information leaked out PERF (an NGO funded by grants from corporations and the government and involved with the Department of Homeland Security) was coordinating with municipal police departments around Occupy Wall Street (OWS), I went to their web sit and down loaded all the training materials they had available for Police Departments and Officers. I read most of the relevant material pertaining to large crowds and demonstrations.

    Repeatedly the literature, which is meant for training officers and department heads, stressed the following:
    1. Avoid Anger. The job of the supervisors is to keep his staff calm.
    2. Avoid Arrests: They take too much time, officers are taken off the street and they lead to civil cases when the charges are dropped anyway. Insults and minor violations aren't worth the effort and money.
    3. Don't show or use non-lethal crowd control weapons or riot gear. They upset the crowd and makes people afraid and angry which officers "catch." Keep them nearby in case anarchists or provocateurs engage in violent crime.
    4. Work with "your crowd." Be friendly and remind them you are there to protect them. Whenever possible, compromise with them.
    5. Arrest the bad guys. In general if your crowd intends to be peaceful, they will help you identify the trouble-makers and forestall problems.

    There was more, buy these points give the general idea how successful crowd control happens.

    Obviously the local police working with PERF were not well trained. Other materials explained why this is happening. I imagine when more of this comes out, the mayors and city officials will have their police forces trained better. Because there are so many Occupies around the country using officers from surrounding jurisdictions, coordination and training deficiencies have lead to injuries and serious PR problems for the cities.