Revolution #261, February 26, 2012

The Repression of the Occupy Movement
Must Not Stand

Act on February 28

And now the upside-down charge of domestic terrorism

On January 28, Occupy protesters in Oakland took to the streets to occupy a city-owned building that had been vacant for over six years. Oakland authorities responded with one of the largest mass arrests to take place in the city’s history. For the third time in three months, legitimate dissent and the occupation of public spaces was put down in a hail of rubber bullets, bean bags, tear gas, and flash grenades. Mainstream journalists covering the event were arrested. This was a level of force and state violence that caused serious injury, sending at least two people to intensive care units and hundreds of others to hospitals and jails.

These attacks in Oakland are part of a nationwide, planned, and systematic unleashing of violence and repression against the Occupy movement, coordinated by the highest offices of the land. Repeated state violence in city after city is aimed at driving the movement out of public spaces—and thereby out of public imagination and involvement.

Occupy Oakland protesters were “kettled”—forced into pens where there was no way out and no way to disperse—and then gassed. The next day, Oakland City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, interviewed on CBS News, defended the city’s actions, saying “directions to the police department and our people was to do whatever was necessary to make sure that these people get the message that we will not keep tolerating this.” The councilman even accused the protesters of being domestic terrorists! De La Fuente said, “I think that basically what, in my opinion amounts to a kind of a domestic terrorism, when these people start taking buildings, and they start costing the city incredible amount of resources...”

The charge that the overwhelmingly non-violent resistance of the Occupy movement is domestic terrorism because it costs the city of Oakland an “incredible amount of resources” would be laughable if it were not so dangerous. At a time when the government is passing bills like the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that empowers U.S. armed forces to engage in civilian law enforcement and to selectively suspend due process and habeas corpus, as well as other rights for those the government identifies as terrorists, this kind of labeling is completely unacceptable. It should be taken very seriously. Attempts like this to demonize protesters and marginalize the Occupy movement are meant to rationalize the use of violence against the protesters and to intimidate people. It is nothing more than government counterinsurgency aimed at dissent and designed to silence the movement, to contain and divide it from its very broad base of public support. Such attempts need to be exposed and met with the mobilization of broad public support. They need to be met with powerful expressions in public spaces of people standing with Occupy and against the suppression of the Occupy movement.

Also dangerous and unconscionable is any echoing of Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and De La Fuente’s sinister charges by people who are misidentifying the very real obstacles in the face of the escalating government repression—saying these are mainly problems within Occupy. Some lessons from history are worth reflection. In Germany, at the demand of the Nazis, local Jewish authorities and community leaders called the Judenrat turned over “less desirable Jews” to the Nazis. In their minds, this was justified in the name of protecting the larger Jewish community. This lethal logic ended up incrementally assisting and legitimizing each step that paved the way for the extermination camps—and when the gassing began, no one—not even the Judenrat—was spared.

Time and again cities across the country have trampled on constitutionally protected forms of speech and dissent. Time and again dissent in the public square has been suppressed. Force, intimidation, and state violence are being used on people who are doing nothing more than non-violently protesting. This is, as the statement calling for mass action against the Occupy movement calls out, utterly shameful from a moral standpoint—and thoroughly illegitimate from a legal and political one:

“One thing IS clear already: If this illegitimate wave of repression is allowed to stand. If the powers that be succeed in suppressing or marginalizing this new movement. If people are once again penned in both literally and symbolically—things will be much worse.”

As a first step in standing up to the repression of Occupy, people everywhere should demonstrate and also send statements of support from around the country to the demonstration being called in New York City on February 28 at Union Square, and several other cities (see "Stand with Occupy Wall Street").

See more coverage elsewhere in this website, including a letter from Revolution Books spokesperson Andy Zee, “OCCUPY & the Way Forward NOW”.

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