Decriminalize dissent

September 17, 2015 - storage organizer

Sept. 17 outlines a fourth anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, that desirous a new era of American dissidents and a tellurian call of criticism opposite mercantile inequality.

Stirred by a Arab Spring and a mass protests in Spain and Greece, a occupiers rallied an intergenerational, multiracial, cross-class bloc opposite a energy of a wealthiest 1 percent, behind a ensign of “We are a 99 percent.” Their summary struck a chord with millions fed adult with a sovereign bailout of a large banks during a responsibility of typical people; ongoing indebtedness caused by high tyro loans, low salary and miss of jobs; a trickle-down economics that had delivered inequality instead of extended prosperity; and a top-down politics that had unsuccessful to live adult to a guarantee of democracy.

Yet, from Lower Manhattan to Ferguson, Missouri, and from Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter, such pacifist movements continue to be met with paramilitary strategy and military-grade weaponry meant to say “law and order” during any cost. Targeted for arrest, attack and detention, immature activists have been alike with criminals, dissidents with domestic terrorists.  

This equation has not done us any safer. In fact, there is a flourishing physique of justification that such strategy lead to some-more violence, not less, in a streets. A stirring investigate of 192 Occupy protests by researchers during a University of California, Berkeley’s Institute for Data Science finds that criticism assault tends to be annoyed by assertive military strategy — not a other approach around. By contrast, when military mount down, protests tend to persist, though with reduce rates of detain and a reduce occurrence of violence.

The latest information lend faith to a practice of a Occupy protests, that are documented in a new book by one of a authors that traces a transformation from pregnancy to repression. As participants in that movement, we have seen firsthand a inclination of assault to breed some-more violence. We have also witnessed a tellurian cost of this violence.

In a tumble of 2011, we were a integrate of twenty-something connoisseur students who found ourselves drawn to Zuccotti Park, afterwards famous as Liberty Square. Both of us participated in a function from a start, one of us as a tyro and labor organizer, a other as a sociologist and citizen journalist. Among other lessons, we were taught by a NYPD a hang-up of handcuffs, peppers mist and batons.

For dual months, a occupiers hold a block in a face of daily savagery and thousands of arrests. Similar occupations rose adult opposite a nation and faced identical insurgency from authorities. In a process, a occupiers sought to take a quarrel to a financial institutions obliged for a mercantile crisis, branch it into a domestic predicament for a “1 percent.” 

On Nov. 15, a Wall Street function came to an sudden and aroused end, as demonstration military descended on a park in a passed of night, dull adult a residents and announced a downtown Financial District a “frozen zone.” Similar crackdowns occurred elsewhere, from Oakland, California, to Tampa Bay, Florida, coordinated by a FBI and a Department of Homeland Security.

On a night of Mar 17, 2012, we returned to Liberty Square to applaud a six-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. As military encircled a park, an officer seized one of us, Cecily, from behind, snatched her retrograde by a breast and slammed her face-first into a concrete; when her bend incidentally struck her assailant, officers kicked and kick her into a array of seizures. She remained handcuffed, her conduct regularly distinguished a ground.

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