Thursday, April 11, 2013

Freedom Is Free. Fascism Has A Price


So it turns out that Mayor Mike Bloomberg has yet another black eye in his third term: Occupy Wall Street:

After eleven months of talking in the courts, New York City has agreed to pay Occupy Wall Street almost a quarter of a million dollars.

The lawsuit, filed on May 24, 2012, by lawyers representing OWS, claimed that 3,600 of 5,000 books in the free People's Library were destroyed during the violent raid and eviction of the protest camp in Zuccotti Park.

In addition to books, also destroyed were computers, live streaming equipment and bicycles which were owned and operated by an environmental nonprofit, Time's Up.

It’s barely a victory…after all, people were harassed and arrested and injured for the crime of protesting and assembling peacefully, and $186,000 of that is eaten up by attorneys’ fee …and yet, it’s a start.

The greater victory is this: the city actually acknowledged responsibility for the actions of its police officers. This is diametrically opposed to the usual, “Who? Him? Don’t know him. Rogue cop.”

I can sympathize with the city, but to a limited extent. The administration of a city the size of New York demands some corner-cutting somewhere, and the fact that rights were trumped is indicative of that. Safety and health have importance, too, as well as the rights of other people.

With OWS, however, we see a situation where – some sanitation issues aside – peaceful protestors were using a public space, admittedly provided by a private corporation but in exchange for zoning variances, effectively making it a public space. It was this company that demanded OWS be removed, which started the whole mess back in 2011.

The funny thing is, dispersing OWS was probably the wrong thing to do, since the movement was then forced to scatter about the city and find other ways to raise consciousness. Has it been more or less effective?

That depends on how you view it. If you look at the mass-media news feed, it’s been less effective. When it was consolidated in one location, it became a visible presence on a regular basis.

But, if the mission is to get the message out to people who can be attracted into joining and spreading the message, or even just carrying the message to people who would most benefit from it, then they’ve done some pretty amazing work under the radar. For instance, elements of OWS were among the first responders to the recovery efforts after Hurricane Sandy, bringing food, water, clothing and medical assistance to the very New York Post-reading people who just a year earlier probably laughed at those hippie freaks down on Wall Street. The very working and middle class people OWS needs in order to transform the political landscape of America.

And maybe that won’t happen in our generation, but think about the kids, both who showed up to help and who benefited from the aide. Those are powerful images those folks were left with.

And after the Sandy Hook slaughter, OWS branched off into Occupy the NRA to bring facts to the people who needed to learn the truth about gun control and gun ownership in America. You can find them on Facebook, if you want to read more.

This really has turned into a people’s movement, despite what growing pains it endures. It does my heart good to know this.