Wednesday, November 9, 2011

OWS Sets the Conditions for Violence

You just met "Bob" in yesterday's post. Remember, he was finding it boring to help in the medical tent. He had tried sign making too. That was fun but had its limits.  What he really wants to do, is help to propel the movement forward. His favorite activity so far? Blocking the exits at the Defending the American  Dream  Summit at the DC Convention Center on Friday evening, November 4, 2011. This was tremendous fun for Bob from the Basement.

Bob and a large number of other DCOWS (that is, occupiers from Occupy DC) arrived about 6 PM and they blocked all eight of the building exits.  The conference participants were already inside. Many of them had come on busses, from very large distances to attend the Americans for Prosperity event. Some had been travelling through the middle of the night and had not yet any rest of any kind. The unsuspecting conference participants are inside eating dinner and listening to speakers; the protesters are stacking up outside for three hours, with the goal of being there when the conference ends, so that the conference participants will have a very hard time leaving. I asked Bob why they would want to do that. The goal, he says, was to make the attendees very uncomfortable. Any time you "do an action", he explained, the idea is to make your targets very uncomfortable. I asked, so you wanted to intimidate them? No, no, he answered. They did not want to intimidate anyone. 

Watch some tapes of the exit. 2:10 of the first clip, you will see a young woman verbally unleashing on the protesters.  She was a  busrider from many hours away who was there with her two children and her gunnery sergeant husband.  When this crowd separated her from her 7-yr-old daughter, Mama Tiger came out. The person pulling her hair was actually her husband who was afraid she was going to get hurt.
I am quoting this paragraph from a person who attended the conference and watched all this unfolding in horror. People got hurt. Ladies fell down the concrete stairs. A woman in a wheelchair was trapped inside the building. 

What was the problem with the Americans for Prosperity conference, I wondered. Bob mumbled about the Koch Brothers and Herman Cain and Mitt Romney all being involved. He grimaced just to mention these names.  I really could not follow what his objection was. It sounded to me like he was saying that he and the others are so ideologically opposed to the conservative message they just don't want anyone to hear it. But when I put it to him that way, he said no, that was not the problem. What then? Was it about destroying the ability of conservatives to raise money? And he said no, that wasn't it either. He was under the impression the dinner tickets only cost 75.00. So it was not an event for high-dollar donors. A broad range of people could attend. 

It is odd that Bob zeroed in on Cain and Romney. They were scheduled to speak at the conference, but not that evening. The night's event was the Ronald Reagan Tribute dinner and the speakers were Judge Andrew Napolitano and Dinesh D'Souza.

I heard more about the Friday night antics when I sat in on Occupy DC's "general assembly" on Monday evening. The people attending seemed so nice and so rational. Over and over again they piped up to remind everyone that they are a  nonviolent movement. Readers: Don't believe it! You can't claim to be nonviolent when you are goading people and chanting at people and blocking people with the stated purpose of making them very uncomfortable. People backed into a corner have to react in some way. When the DCOWS plan these actions, they are creating the conditions which are likely to lead to panic and to a 78 year old lady landing at the bottom of a flight of concrete stairs, as happened here.

As long as OWS plans "actions" intended to trap people, even temporarily, or to make average people very uncomfortable, violence will many times be the result.

But here is an odd twist. We sat in circles after the general assembly. Our directive: to discuss how "we" can stand in solidarity with others protesting across the world. (I put we in quotation marks, because I am only there to observe.) I sat right next to one woman who had been blocking the exits to the Defending the Dream conference. At the exit she was blocking, the evening had turned into actual conversations with TeaPartiers. She joined a few of them for drinks! And she was shocked to find out that OWS has a lot in common with the TeaPartiers. She figured out that TeaPartiers and OWS are worried about the exact same things. HELLO!  And she also had figured out that the difference between OWS and the TeaParty, is in how to solve those problems. Her suggestion to the 16 member circle: reach out to the TeaParty in some way. Mind you, she was absolutely squirming in her seat and taking extra effort to make doubly certain that no one in that circle would ever accuse her of being any kind of a  tea party sympathizer. A fate worse than death in the intolerant atmosphere of a OWS gathering! But three others spoke up to say they absolutely agree with her. There were no down twinkles.

SO. THERE. MAY. BE. SOME. HOPE. IN. THIS. WORLD. Maybe some of the OWS are going to start thinking of the TeaParty as made of thinking beings who have the same concerns and who have better, less fanciful and utopian answers.

During that same General Assembly on Monday evening, the Media Outreach committee reported. The committee had targeted to turn the bad news reporting about their "action" on Friday evening into good news reporting and they had succeeded. Some of the protesters had blocked the streets. As a result a car had collided with a few of  those protesters. They read aloud the  AP news report read from Friday night. I can't find the AP report, but Reuters was similar to what was read aloud at the GA. And by Sunday, the story was markedly different, and more favorable to the OWS. The OWS committee believes it was their outreach which changed that news reporting.

We heard from the Street Team Support Training committee. They are planning to go right on doing more actions and blocking more streets and interfering with just about anything they can think of in the DC area. So they are creating a support structure to monitor the situation closely and figure out who gets taken to jail, and where they are taken. That way, they can go and start the legal proceedings to get them out of jail again. (Support for anticipated arrest is planned in advance--another clue that this is not a peaceful movement.)

The committee spokesperson stood up at the General Assembly and said that he recommends that the OWS choose to block only two lanes in future protests. Why? Because blocking the entire street makes the public mad. He has been hearing that motorists are getting angry and frustrated when they are stuck and can't use the streets. He is afraid that by blocking the entire street, they will "start to lose the 99 percent". But did the OWS ever "have" the 99% in the first place?  Doubtful. Americans are not big fans of barbarians and  mob rule. 

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