Confirmation of the high-level conspiracy behind the clearance of Occupy Wall Street protests has rapidly come to light. It establishes that Homeland Security “anti-terror” legislation was designed among other things to suppress domestic dissent.
Rick Ellis, a journalist with Examiner.com, reported: “Over the past ten days, more than a dozen cities have moved to evict ‘Occupy’ protesters from city parks and other public spaces. As was the case in last night’s move in New York City, each of the police actions shares a number of characteristics. And according to one Justice official, each of those actions was coordinated with help from Homeland Security, the FBI and other federal police agencies. …
“According to this official, in several recent conference calls and briefings, local police agencies were advised to seek a legal reason to evict residents of tent cities, focusing on zoning laws and existing curfew rules. Agencies were also advised to demonstrate a massive show of police force, including large numbers in riot gear. In particular, the FBI reportedly advised on press relations, with one presentation suggesting that any moves to evict protesters be coordinated for a time when the press was the least likely to be present.”
Oakland mayor Jean Quan and Portland mayor Sam Adams both confirmed they were part of a conference call involving 18 municipalities last Thursday organized by the U.S. Conference of Mayors to discuss local responses to Occupy encampments around the country. Since the subsequent public safety rhetoric of the mayors was so similar, it is safe to conclude that this narrative was agreed upon ahead of time with an eye to overcoming legal challenges to police raids. No doubt the initiative for this legal strategy came from Homeland Security lawyers.
The state does not simply rely on the use of violence, but also uses sophisticated methods of manipulating public opinion, including the planting of press stories about the occupations’ criminality. As Lambert Strether guest-posted in Naked Capitalism: “Three or four days ago, there was a sudden spate of coverage where the headlines associated the Occupations with violence, death, and suicide, and where the stories themselves showed no causal relationship at all; one might imagine that editors, who write the headlines, were on a conference call, just like the governors …”
On Tuesday, the New York Times reported breathlessly that “the police operation to clear Zuccotti Park of protesters unfolded after two weeks of planning and training.” The following day, a different article described city officials’ attempts to engage the protesters in dialog: “On Oct. 31 [at the beginning of the two week planning period], Mr. Wolfson [NY deputy mayor] sat down in a carpeted conference room owned by Trinity Church across a table from five members of the protest … Mr. Wolfson hoped to work through the Bloomberg administration’s problems with what it saw as an increasingly lawless and unmanageable campground in the pulsing heart of the financial district. The protesters wanted to discuss only the need for toilets and tents. Mr. Wolfson told them their requests for permits had been denied, and the negotiations were over before they had begun.”
So while the city claimed they were ready to negotiate with the occupiers, the police were already training to evict them. As the NYT story continues, it documents the development of Bloomberg’s public safety narrative. “Two days after the church meeting [as the planning for the raid was underway], a man was charged with sexually abusing an 18-year-old woman at Zuccotti Park, and Mr. Bloomberg’s public tone began to shift. Facing mounting criticism from the city’s tabloids and from some business interests for his tolerance of an encampment they found increasingly noxious, he spoke increasingly of the need to balance free speech with public safety.”
This remains Bloomberg’s rhetoric today. Again, the New York Times gives his side of the story in an editorial statement: “Mayor Michael Bloomberg restrained the police and resisted political pressure for weeks, but he had some legitimate worries about crowding, drug use, noise and unsanitary conditions. His decision to clear tents and sleeping bags out of Zuccotti Park, the focal point of the protests, and have the area cleaned, was justifiable legally.”
But the reasons that Bloomberg and the NYT give for the raid on the camp have to be seen as justifications for a centrally-planned operation worked out over the last two weeks. The intervention of the Department of Homeland Security immediately followed the violent police raid on the Oakland encampment on October 25 which backfired politically by galvanizing more support for the protesters and culminated in the shutting down of the port.
And take a look at this video from late Tuesday morning, after the temporary injunction against Brookfield had been granted but protesters were still prevented (illegally) from entering Zuccotti Park. A woman holding a copy of the court injunction was punched in the face by police, and “Dane” from OWS has a U.S. flag wrested from his hands as he attempts to plant it in the plaza. What strikes me is the symbolic significance of the flag. It reminds me of Napoleon’s armies where capturing the flag was an important blow to the opposing army’s morale. But in this case, it’s the AMERICAN flag which the police grabbed from the protester’s hands.
The movement is not going to be stopped, even by central government intervention. There is now a ferment of ideas on how to move forward, such as a suggestion from Abigail Caplovitz Field: “The only way to regain the power of the protest, to eliminate any shred of pretense for police state action, is to sever occupying and camping. So how do we do that? By enabling the Occupiers to camp with you, and occupy the square in shifts. If sleeping and all the biological needs of the occupiers–can be handled in your space, the Occupiers can stand vigil in our space. … But that can only happen if individual New Yorkers are courageous enough to stand up and invite a stranger into their home; if unions are courageous enough to really provide a platform for the Occupy movement’s fight; if the clergy in their synagogues, churches, mosques and temples spread their teachings by living the example and provide sanctuary. … We need to stand up and be counted, to claim our place in the 99%.”