Friday, January 27, 2012

Addition to double-speak lexicon — political repression is now "lawfare"

"The government can always articulate rationales for why they're prosecuting one person and not another."
Oakland officials have shifted tactics since conducting a series of violent assaults on Occupy Oakland in October and November in the glare of the national media.
Oakland officials have taken a new tack in their suppression of the Occupy movement, one that seems addressed to the city's public relations problems. Gone are the mass arrests, “less-lethal” weaponry and tear gas, replaced with a kind of "lawfare" on the few protesters who remain in the plaza at the foot of Oakland City Hall where the occupation's tent city once stood.
Authorities are no longer routinely claiming that Oakland's occupiers are rioters, arguing instead that they are blocking public access to walkways and possessing unpermitted property -- conduct that may or may not, in fact, be protected under the First Amendment as "expressive" political activities.
Over the last month, the arrests have come in fives and tens, repeatedly targeting some of the same few and most visible activists. 
Read it AlterNet


Matt Franko said...


I think there is a relationship to private property.

They should consider relocating to public property.

So-called "Zucotti park" was a former public park that got privatized into Brookfield private equity and was renamed after the CEO.


Tom Hickey said...

Matt, I think that there are several things operative. First, I don't know that they had an option with Zuccotti Park. The police would not let them closer to Wall Street, which is where they had wanted to protest. I don't think that the London protestors were allowed access to the City either, so they set up at Saint Paul's. It would have been ideal if Trinity Church had provided space, but that did not happen, in spite of a lot of pressure. But in many places protestors are arrested for continued protesting at public places, too.

Not everywhere though. Here in Iowa City, the tents are still erected in a public park, although the protests are pretty muted here since most people agree with the protestors. It's mostly teach-ins at places like the library, with talks by university profs. etc. Which, of course, is the way it should be in a civilized society. Political repression such as we see in many places and suppression of press freedom are way over the top.

Secondly, the protestors are also occupying unused private property to show that there is a surplus that is being restricted instead of being put to use. This is a big deal globally as more and more of the commons is eaten away at, and the Libs what to privatize even the oceans. If one is homeless, one is spaceless, too. I have taken in enough homeless people that the problem is not just shelter. It is physical space where one can stand, sit and lie down. The police force the homeless to keep on moving. It's a scandal that few really understand. The protestors get this and are calling attention to it. Of course, the media is submerging the message.