From theCenter for Constitutional Rights
Thoughts on Bloomberg, Quan, and the Need for Recall Laws in All Fifty States
As depressingfacts pointed out to me earlier, I chose a hell of a day for a refresher when I checked out of reality for the majority of Monday. While I maintain that the Joker, Penguin, and the rest of the villains of Arkham City posed a valid threat to national security, I can at least admit that quite a bit has transpired in the last twenty four hours.
By now, everybody’s heard Oakland Mayor Jean Quan’s admission that she coordinated the eviction of #OccupyOakland along with mayors from 18 other, undisclosed, major American cities. There is an understandable anger, from all corners of the country, over the implications behind this action. Going forward, do we have to be concerned that our country’s elected officials will collude in order to undermine the First Amendment rights of peacefully-assembled U.S. citizens?
Then, of course, there’s New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s decision to order 432 members of the NYPD into Zuccotti Park to clear out the tent city erected by #OcccupyWallSt. Naturally, the decision was made in the early hours of the morning, and police did everything in their power to prevent the media from documenting the events transpiring. Adding insult to injury, the New York Supreme Court just overturned a temporary restraining order, issued by a New York judge, which said protesters had a right to re-Occupy Zuccotti Park with their personal property.
Initially, I was going to write a post on the necessity of beginning recall campaigns against Mayor Michael Bloomberg(NY) and Mayor Jean Quan(Oakland). While I still think that a recall campaign against Jean Quan would be successful, particularly after the resignation of her Co-Deputy Mayor and chief legal advisor, I found out this morning that thirty one of the United States of America do not allow their citizens to recall elected officials. And it turns out that New York is one of those states.
With this discovery, is it any wonder why people have become disillusioned with the election process? Sure, things might not seem as hopeless if you live in Colorado, Wisconsin, California, or any of the other 19 states that allow their citizens some measure of oversight for their elected officials. Citizens in Arizona and Michigan just took advantage of their states’ recall laws, sending State Sen. Russel Pearce(R-AZ) and State Rep. Paul Scott(R-MN) packing, for misrepresentation of their constituents.
But what do you tell a New Yorker, the day after
KingMayor Bloomberg decided that “no right is absolute”? I’d be willing to be that a fair portion of the city of New York holds a very different opinion from their Mayor, but now what?
We’ve entered a time when political sex scandals are the norm, and not an aberration. When drug use, shady book keeping, and anonymous donors have become commonplace for, both the campaign trail and offices of, our elected officials. A time when Islamophobia, homophobia, bigotry and xenophobia are welcomed, openly, by one of the two major political parties in this county.
Now, I don’t know about you guys, but that seems like a problem to me. Outside of professional sports, and the wonderful world of being CEO to a major corporation, what jobs guarantees four years of employment, wages, and benefits on the day you’re hired?
Every job I’ve ever worked had annual performance reviews. And I’ve seen more than my fair share of people let go by their company after said annual performance review. Yet, we allow elected officials in thirty one states to remain unchecked for the duration of their terms. Does something about this situation seem wrong to anybody else?
The status quo has to change. For us to claim that we take part in a truly representative democracy, we have to give everybody the chance to hold their elected officials accountable. Particularly when those elected officials make clear that the only interests they are worried about are their own.
They’ve raided your tents, stolen your belongings, and used violence to deescalate your right to protest. If we don’t fight violence against violence we aren’t going to be taken seriously. Seriously America, stop letting the government and police force treat you like animals. This is exactly how they want you to be treated in order to keep you back on track. Standing around and chanting words hasn’t shown the intensity of the situation. I’m a human being and I would want to be treated like one, as opposed to being shoved, maced, arrested for no cause, and thrown around… We need to fight violence against violence to sweat the government as a warning that they have no control over us anymore.
What made you think the government would just roll over and concede to the demands of protesters after only 2 months of moderately organized action? Change rarely comes about quickly and especially in cases such as this where we’re dealing with widespread issues firmly ingrained into our system. It’s naive to think this fight would be won easily.
Furthermore, nothing discredits individuals more than when they resort to the use of violence. Those in charge have a much easier time vilifying and discrediting protesters and this has been evident since the dawn of time. When the people (or protesters) use the force of violence against their government, they’re not viewed as rational credible beings but rather, as “animals” who are only able to know or recognize the use of force, further validating additional violence onto them. If you’re seen as an animal, you’re going to be treated as one.
What has happened thus far has been the inevitable. Those in power are not going to give up their power or fix the system that benefits them easily or quickly. To be shocked and outraged because law enforcement hasn’t been completely hospitable is again, extraordinarily naive and to conclude that after only 2 months of protesting, violence is the only option left reflects a vast lack of worldly understanding, not to mention, creative thought.
I think it’s a little callous to blanket-label those who are outraged, by open acts of police brutality, as “extraordinarily naive”. If these people said they never saw the violence coming, that would be naive. I might even agree that it would have been naive to think that it would ever be possible to bring about significant societal change without meeting the unfriendly end of a police baton.
But I don’t see naivete in anger. I see it as a sign of passion. A sign that someone genuinely gives a shit about the Occupy movement, police brutality and accountability, or both.
I also think that those who advocate non-violent resistance are far too quick to throw their brethren under a bus, simply because of a difference in opinion over employed tactics. Nobody is forcing a non-violent protester to become violent, and vice versa. However, it absolutely hurts the cause when violent and non-violent protesters begin fighting among themselves and lose sight of what they are both working for. A prime example of exactly how this can be harmful to the movement took place at #OccupyDenver, when members of the protest began giving names to the police of anybody who wouldn’t swear by non-violent tactics.
As for public perception, you are absolutely right. Historically, those in power have had a much easier time vilifying protesters who resort to violence/destruction than protesters do vilifying those they are protesting against. However, technology is quickly negating that fact. For proof, look no farther than the widely-circulated differences in public perception of the Tea Party vs. OWS. Ten years ago, there’s no way you’d see a group like OWS out-poll the Tea Party after the drastically different coverage that each movement received from the media. Social media has become a much more powerful tool for protesters and revolutionaries than for their counterparts in the government.
I understand the concerns that many people have, in regards to the use of violence as a means of protest. Many people point to Dr. King, and the success of the Civil Rights movement, when trying to prove that non-violence is the answer. But, while I would never dispute the role that Dr. King played, he had help from a great many people. One of the most famous being Malcolm X, and he played by a very different set of rules.
As for your statements about a lack of creative thought being shown, by suggesting violent retaliation two months into the protest, imply that you think it becomes acceptable/creative at some point. If that is the case, who gets to decide when it’s been long enough for violence to be acceptable?
Would you have spoken out against the use of violence in Egypt or Tunisia? Did you speak out against the use of violence in Libya? Will you speak out against violence if it’s employed in Syria, Yemen, or Bahrain?
If the answer to those questions is yes, then I doubt there is much left for us to debate. If the violence being perpetuated upon those people isn’t enough to warrant a violent response, then I’m not sure anything would. If the answer to some/all of those questions is no, then why do you expect anything more/less from your fellow citizens? Are we to wait until we’ve suffered for multiple decades under an authoritarian regime before it’s acceptable?
I’m not saying that every act of violent disobedience is justified or the sole answer to our problems. I’m also not saying that non-violent disobedience is/isn’t the proper route to go. I think both sides need to recognize that not everything in this world is black and white, and learn to work with/around the shades of gray just a bit better than we do now.
We have enough enemies already. Let’s not add ourselves to the list.
Watching the Occupy Wall Street live feed.
And I cannot believe this is America. This is not the America I was raised to love.
The America I was raised to believe in is a figment of history’s imagination. I have known this for years.
Yet the shock is overwhelming.
There was a woman screaming about throwing away the books. Five thousand plus books thrown in the garbage. All that knowledge.
The police are taking the food, throwing it away, blockading and arresting the press, closing the airspace above the park so news helicopters can’t film.
An NYC councilman was beaten about the head and face. He is bleeding profusely.
Residents near Zuccotti Park are locked in their buildings per the NYPD’s orders.
Streets and bridges are barricaded. The counter-terrorism force is on scene.
There is a sound cannon capable of blowing the eardrums of onlookers.
My fellow citizens are bloodied and battered.
And the music I’m listening to in the background as I watch this horror unfold just shuffled to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.
And now I feel I am watching a funeral.
And a birth.
ALERT from Occupy Portland
ALERT! A man named Justin James Bridges, musician & ASL translator for Occupy Portland General Assembly, was assaulted by @PortlandPolice today during camp clean out.
He was beaten repeatedly in the back and has now lost use of his right arm. Though Justin was lying on the ground in compliance, Portland Police continuously beat him in the back with clubs until his eyes rolled back in his head. Fellow protesters thought he was dead. He is now in critical care.
IF YOU HAVE ANY INFORMATION, ESPECIALLY PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE, DO NOT HESITATE TO COME FORWARD. National Lawyers’ Guild # 503-902-5340. Protect rights, protect the truth.
Please share. And if you have info or evidence, for the sake of justice, come forward.