So I ducked under the yellow tape marked with the words, “Police Line — Do Not Cross” y en español “Por Favor No Cruzar”. (Why is the Spanish version more polite?)
I used my iPhone to zoom in as close as I could, but the results were fuzzy.
So I kept moving closer.
And I took a little video.
If you go to YouTube, other people’s footage shows more of the action.
Hey, doesn’t he look like Jack Black?
I stayed and watched for the next thirty minutes or so. One by one, each of the eleven people in the intersection was approached by four or five officers in riot gear. Each time, a quiet conversation took place.
These disobeyers were well-schooled in the art of peaceful resistance.
In turn, they all required several officers to lift them to their feet. (YouTube shows this in motion.)
Each time someone was taken and cuffed, small crowds at all corners of the intersection cheered for the arrestee. Some of the vocalizations offered different opinions.
“This is what democracy looks like!”
“No–this is what FASCISM looks like!”
I understand both sentiments, but the pragmatist in me is unwilling to label this as fascism. While I do tend to think of our government as increasingly fascist, the roads are for cars, right? People sitting in the street could get hurt. And these activities shouldn’t monopolize our police forces. Don’t they have actual crimes to be investigating, if not preventing?
It goes back to the Piggy quote I linked to in my first Occupy post when I mentioned Lord of the Flies. “We’ve got to be sensible and make things work.”
Still, I don’t disagree with the Occupy movement nor with this particular demonstration (November 9th outside of UCLA). A part of me looked at the scene last week on Wilshire Boulevard — the way everyone so benignly flowed in their seemingly choreographed parts — and thought: incredibly expensive performance art. I keep that snide side of myself in check because, really, I’m thrilled to see a break from the apathy that blankets our culture.
Meanwhile, it saddens and sickens me to see friends of friends on Facebook commenting that the Occupiers are “bitching, whining, complainers attempting to change something we have no control over”. So, these people prefer to tolerate a system that is radically corrupt, where both dominant political parties are participants in international bullying and war crimes, where justice is bought, and our role as citizens is to shut up, turn on American Idol and order another pizza?
I grew up thinking that Americans were the good guys. We’re not the good guys. Our tax dollars don’t merely bail out white collar criminals, they hurt innocent people — people like Bradley Manning who has been held in solitary confinement since May 2010, although not yet tried in a court of law. He’s one of thousands who are being illegally detained and tortured. That’s a minute fraction of the harm being done.
For years, my friends and I have been wondering, “Why aren’t people rioting in the streets over this stuff?” Why wasn’t I? I’m guilty of inaction, too.
Now, each morning, I check Twitter for the blow by blow of the previous night’s #ows activities. And each morning, I think: thank you, NY. Thank you, Oakland. Thank you, Occupiers everywhere.
November — NaBloPoMo — Day Fifteen