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The Future of Protest In Panopticon Nation 566

Hugh Pickens writes "James Fallows writes that you don't have to idealize everything about the Occupy movement to recognize the stoic resolve of the protesters at UC Davis being pepper sprayed as a moral drama that the protesters clearly won. 'The self-control they show, while being assaulted, reminds me of grainy TV footage I saw as a kid, of black civil rights protesters being fire-hosed by Bull Connor's policemen in Alabama. Or of course the Tank Man in Tiananmen Square,' writes Fallows. 'Such images can have tremendous, lasting power.' We can't yet imagine all the effects of the panopticon society we are beginning to live in but one benefit to the modern protest movement is the omnipresence of cameras (video) as police officials, protesters, and nearly all onlookers are recording whatever goes on bringing greater accountability and a reality-test for police claims that they 'had' to use excessive force. 'What's new is that now the perception war occurs simultaneously with the physical struggle. There's almost parity,' writes Andrew Sprung. 'You have a truncheon or gun, I have a camera. You inflict pain, I inflict infamy.'"
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The Future of Protest In Panopticon Nation

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  • by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @06:08PM (#38141720)

    Right because, sitting on the ground arms behind your back while the cop takes out his can of pepper spray, holding it up and walking with it, showing it to the entire crowd before spraying you in the face untill the can is empty, is totally provoking him.

    The point of the "agent provocateur" is that he works WITH the authorities while POSING as one of the protesters.

    So when the calm protesters are engaged in non-violent protests, the agent provocateur becomes violent. That "violence" is used to "justify" the violence against the non-violent protesters.

    And it is that one "violent protester" who is shown in the media as an example of how "unreasonable" the protesters (as a group) are.

  • by Riceballsan ( 816702 ) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @06:17PM (#38141848)
    Some not all, actually if I recall there was sort of an unofficial line with wealthier people on one side, and less wealthy on another, another thing to note, not everyone with a $400 phone is a self entitled ass, many OWS protestors are fresh college graduates (IE people who have racked up enough student loan debt to keep them in a position of paying off loans until there 40's IF they actually can get something better then a minimum wage job). I don't know the origin of the quote but someone said "I am angry with the previous generation, they continued to push me saying if I didn't go to college, study and keep my grades up I would wind up working at McDonalds, now that I've done all those things and acquired $15,000 of debt, they now say I'm a self entitled jerk because I don't want to work at McDonalds. In other words many of the protestors are just off of the free ride, last point where parents cover you, and hit the point where everything they have worked hard for, they finally could be independent, but the economy and job market are in such chaos, they have nowhere to go but down.
  • by Fjandr ( 66656 ) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @06:35PM (#38142076) Homepage Journal

    Not to disagree with the outrage expressed, but:

    Has this guy ever been pepper sprayed or beaten up before?

    Yes, he has. It's part of the training in the use of pepper spray by police forces. He's been sprayed at least once in the face with it.

  • by erilane ( 787755 ) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @06:41PM (#38142132)
    I am a UCD almnus (class of 2007) and classifying the student body as "mildly conservative" is not accurate. Nor is the claim that most students come from the central valley. Most students come from the San Francisco Bay area or other population centers around the state, and most students, like college students everywhere, are liberal-leaning. I agree that most protests do not effect the changes they strive for, but I don't think the "right to protest" is something you should give away so casually. You pay the salaries of the people who assaulted your classmates and you don't seem to care. There is some form of protest on the quad virtually every week, and only recently have our campus police forces (across the US, not just Davis) started breaking them up.
  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @06:57PM (#38142320) Journal

    Do you not notice how the media reports with glee the rapes, murders, etc. that occur on the Occupied territory?

    And don't report that the perpetrators were not associated with the OWS protestors?

  • by boombaard ( 1001577 ) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @07:05PM (#38142416) Journal
    Not quite isolated.. [guardian.co.uk]

    Video footage has emerged of a police officer beating an Iraq war veteran so hard that he suffered a ruptured spleen in an apparently unprovoked incident at a recent Occupy protest in California.
    The footage, which has been shared with the Guardian, shows Kayvan Sabehgi standing in front of a police line on the night of Occupy Oakland's general strike on 2 November, when he is set upon by an officer.
    He does not appear to be posing any threat, nor does he attempt to resist, yet he is hit numerous times by an officer clad in riot gear who appears determined to beat him to the ground.
    Sabehgi, 32, an Oakland resident and former marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, has since undergone surgery on his spleen. He says it took hours for him to be taken to hospital, despite complaining of severe pain. Police have told the Guardian they are investigating the incident.
    The footage was recorded by artist and photographer Neil Rivas, who said Sabehgi was "completely peaceful" before he was beaten. "It was uncalled for," said Rivas. "There were no curse words. He was telling them he was a war vet, a resident of Oakland, a business owner."
    Sabehgi has previously said he was talking to officers in a non-violent manner prior to his arrest, which the footage appears to confirm.
    The 32-year-old can be seen standing in front of a line of police officers, all of whom are in riot gear. The officers walk forward, chanting and thrusting their batons, and Sabehgi starts to walk backwards.
    Although the video is dark, an officer can clearly be seen beginning to hit Sabehgi around the legs with a baton, then starting to strike him higher up.

  • by Genda ( 560240 ) <mariet@NoSPaM.got.net> on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @07:07PM (#38142436) Journal

    I understand your question. The sad truth is that the world is a strange and chaotic place. How many millions have been slaughtered in the name of the "Prince of Peace". That doesn't make the conversation "Love thy Enemy" any less profound or moving. Gandhi freed nearly a billion people from the oppression of foreign rule. More important he is the father of peaceful revolution. The American civil rights movement owes almost everything to Gandhi. Since then the best of the work of Mandela, Tienanmen Square, and a hundred other peaceful revolution small and large owe their power, dignity and humanity to the road paved by Gandhi.

    He literally invented a new way for human beings to determine the future with complete responsibility and complete compassion. I can't remember a larger contribution to the species and it will certainly play a large part in what it about to happen to our government and our collective futures.

  • by skine ( 1524819 ) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @07:58PM (#38142992)

    Actually, there is precedent in case law that pepper-spraying nonviolent protesters is assault.

    http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-9th-circuit/1332957.html [findlaw.com]

  • by zolltron ( 863074 ) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @07:58PM (#38142996)

    One woman had a miscarriage as a direct result of being kicked in the stomach repeatedly by police. (And, yes, she told be police she was pregnant, and that she was trying to escape to protect her unborn child.)

    http://open.salon.com/blog/fingerlakeswanderer/2011/11/22/pregnant_protester_who_was_beaten_miscarries [salon.com]

    Is that enough violence for you? Or would you like more before you regard this as despicable?

  • by Nadaka ( 224565 ) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:02PM (#38143028)

    There is now at least 1 person murdered by the police use of brutality against OWS.


  • by Zaphod The 42nd ( 1205578 ) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:08PM (#38143090)

    Turns out they're significantly wealthier, whiter and more educated than the average American.

    Do you understand percentages? Above average is still included in 99% ...

  • by anagama ( 611277 ) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:20PM (#38143202) Homepage

    I mean, when exactly did campus police start dressing like extras from an S&M production of The Empire Strikes Back, anyway?

    Here's an interesting article by Norm Stamper, Seattle Police Chief during the WTO protests in 1999 ("Battle in Seattle"). Since then, he has professed great regret for his reaction and has unequivocally apologized for his orders and the actions of the police force. Anyway, he addresses the increasing militarization of the police in the US and explains why it is such a bad idea to stop being part of the community and start being the "them", as in oppressors, at least with respect to solving day to day crimes that actually harm citizens.

    http://www.thenation.com/article/164501/paramilitary-policing-seattle-occupy-wall-street [thenation.com]

  • by reg ( 5428 ) <reg@freebsd.org> on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @09:48PM (#38143898) Homepage

    If you watch the videos, you see that Lt Pike instructs the students (who are blocking his exit with detainees, i.e obstructing the police - but they were trying to get arrested because they wanted to force the cops to arrest everyone) that if they don't move when the police car which they are bringing gets there, then he will shoot them.

    That is not a legal order. He can only say "I will arrest you, and I might hurt you if you resist". He also doesn't keep his word: he pepper spays them instead of shooting them, and he does so before they have an opportunity to move out of the way of for the police car. Moreover, he prevents the other officers from trying to move/detain them.


  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @10:19PM (#38144124) Journal

    Did you see the video? They were very scary weren't they? Sitting down on the ground like that with their arms pinned and not moving. So scary that the officer felt the need to prance around spraying them while his mates turned their backs to the protesters.

    Here [youtube.com] is the video.

    He even shows the pepper spray can to everyone (including the cameras), and he goes back and forth along the chain twice as he sprays them. And then he goes around once more and sprays individual people who didn't get the full thing on the first go one by one. Interestingly enough, even though the guys at the other end were already seeing what's coming for them, only one guy tried to move away...

    Of course, this was completely and utterly pointless. Pepper spray is a tool given to police to subdue violent people without resorting to lethal force, or to make the crowd back off; it's not there to make their job easier when dealing with non-violent law-breakers. Furthermore, in this case it didn't even make the job easier - if their goal was to move the people aside so that the walkway is no longer blocked, pepper spraying them from all sides while they are sitting is not going to achieve this; what you end up with is a bunch of sitting people vomiting because of pepper spray, only contributing to the mess. Finally, as seen on video, after pepper spraying, the cops just come there and pick them up and drag away one by one - which they could do just as well from the get go.

    It is clear that the use of pepper spray was not in any way, shape or form to stop those people from breaking a law, but was an arbitrary extra-judicial punishment imposed by the cop in question on the protesters for ignoring his command to move away. The very theatrical way in which it is delivered only makes it this much more evidenced.

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