October 29, 2011
“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Mahatma Gandhi
For the first few weeks of Occupy Wall Street, the Empire ignored the protesters. But the movement grew. Occupy groups, large and small, sprang up in cities and towns across the country – even spreading to or joining with protesters around the world.
No longer able to ignore the movement, the Empire began its campaign of ridicule. I described some of this here on the blog a few weeks ago as politicians and Republican candidates worried about this “mob” or the “class warfare” the protesters were stirring up. Trolls quickly marched across the discussion forums of the internet, spreading contempt and horror over these filthy bands of hippies, druggies and sex fiend socialists strutting down the streets of (insert city of your choice). It was all mildly amusing to those of us who’d been around long enough to remember the excoriation of other movements over the years, but like Gandhi, we knew worse would come.
The slight, bespectacled lawyer who stood up for the masses of India against the British Empire understood very well the tools of that Empire. And this week, we in America watched as Scott Olsen, a 24 year old marine – a decorated veteran of two tours in Iraq – felt the force of this American Empire come down on him when the Oakland police, in full riot gear, tried to break up the Occupy Wall Street protesters there with tear gas, rubber bullets and flash grenades.
There were other signs this week, that the Empire had decided to fight back Police in several cities moved in to tear down Occupy encampments and drive protesters out. And in New York, Mayor Bloomberg ordered the fire department to confiscate six generators and about a dozen cans of fuel at the Occupy site in Zuccotti Park – taking away their means of heating and cooking, even as forecasters predicted the first big snow storm of the season moving in today there and across the upper northeast. http://www.cnn.com/2011/10/28/us/occupy-wall-street/index.html, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45078623/ns/us_news-life/ and http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2011-10-28/wall-street-protests-winter/50975932/1
But these young people are refusing to give up. Across the country, ordinary people have decided to stand with them. Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have joined them, forming Occupy groups of their own. Many, like Scott Olsen, belong to Veterans for Peace – having seen the Empire’s wars up close and personal.
For right now, I suspect, the Empire will let the weather take its toll. Bullies always over-play their hand and too many people across the country have raised their voices in protest against police tactics. But make no mistake, the Empire will not give up. If winter can’t break the protesters, look for harsher tactics. The Empire has militarized police forces across the country in its “war on terrorism”. Watch for infiltration of the movement (the young man strolling through the Atlanta encampment with an AK47 strapped to his back comes to mind), “terrorist” acts, “terrorism” crackdowns. It would not be the first time.
We must be aware of this. We must stand with them against this. As an anonymous person calling himself A Concerned American wrote, in a moving tribute to Scott Olsen on facebook, http://www.facebook.com/notes/occupy-tucson/for-scott-olsen/194234263985966, “… These are not trouble-making hippies, America–you mistake them as such at your peril. These are your better angels, trying to save you from yourself. They are your child that cannot help tell the truth, the sometimes inconvenient one that thinks of safety last and justice first. They are fighting the war that rages inside you when you see the circus on TV, in print, or online and can only shake your head. You ignore them, laugh at them, demean them, or discount them at your peril. They may be our last hope of transformation for this country reeling from war, from a crisis of confidence, from scandal, division, corruption, and poverty. Let no demagogue–especially talkers at the service of money and power–convince you, a thinking American, that these are not patriots of the truest kind …
“… For every Scott Olsen, now lying in a hospital bed in critical condition, there should be 100,000 witnesses, who by their presence lend this movement strength and legitimacy.
“As long as they occupy the centers of our cities, big and small, we–who wish to create a more perfect union–have an opening to change something vital, such as removing money from politics once and for all. It is possible. It has been done elsewhere. These children have brought the season of democracy, the days and especially nights of renewing democracy, and they need your protection.
“Even your bravest children need to feel your strong hands on their back.”
Wow! So, how can we help them – and this movement – survive the winter war?
If you are able to be there and physically stand with them, do it. Take one home with you for the night. (Even a garage would be warmer than sleeping on the ground under a snow-covered tarp.)
If you live in one of these cities and are a member of a church, social or civic group friendly to the movement, ask them to offer shelter on the colder nights. There are a lot of people who have come from other parts of the country to participate and have no local family or friends.
Send (or take) a box or two of those chemical hand, feet or body warmers to the protesters. You can buy them in local sporting good shops or buy them by the box at various places on the internet. Here’s one. http://www.industrialsavings.com/hard-hats/warmingpacks.html
Buy (or make) a set or two of caps, neck scarves and gloves for them.
If you have a local group that is protesting, make sure they have hot food and beverages.
If you have some money to do it, donate a good, cold weather sleeping bag or other cold weather camping gear.
If you don’t have a local group, you can still send help at this address:
The UPS Store
Re: Occupy Wall Street
118A Fulton St. #205
New York, NY 10038
I’m trying to send one (small) box per month. It’s all I can do, but if even a third of the 99 % find a way to stand with them, it will help them win this – so far – smaller war.
And if the war escalates, we have to stand with them and make our voices heard along with theirs.
We are the 99%. We will not, nor should we try to save this greed and corruption riddled Empire. But if we stand together, we may just save the nation as the Empire continues it slide into collapse.
They ignored us; they ridiculed us; now they fight us … Then, we win.
- Occupy Oakland live blog: vigils for Scott Olsen, police under scrutiny (guardian.co.uk)
- Don McNay: Occupy Wall Street: Hidden Victories and Hidden Allies (huffingtonpost.com)
- Marine Scott Olsen Will Undergo Brain Surgery, And OccupyMARINES Are Making Demands (businessinsider.com)