Stop Wondering What You Can Do To Support The Occupy Movement

My father taught me the importance of activism at a young age. He was on the national board of the ACLU and my first internship was at the ACLU office in Kansas City, MO. My father protested the Vietnam War and was expelled from the University of Kansas for participating in protests. He wasn’t afraid of being a troublemaker. It’s one of the reasons he’s my hero. He had a way with words and always encouraged non-violence. He was a pacifist, but also a black belt in karate. He had guns. He worked out almost every day of his life. I remember asking him why he worked out all the time. There were the obvious health-related reasons, but he also said something that stuck with me. He told me he worked out all the time to be prepared for anything. And I trust that he wasn’t messing me. I know he wasn’t. I know he would have a lot to say about the Occupy movement and I imagine us traveling somewhere together to participate.

I’ve been following the Occupy movement since it began. I’ve done my share of protesting in my life and tend to write a lot of letters to people. I call my representatives on a pretty fairly regular basis. The Occupy movement has me pretty angry though. The violence and brutality against peaceful protesters is absolutely disgusting, maddening and extremely upsetting. It’s really been bothering me a lot lately. I feel somewhat helpless. The fact that the mainstream media isn’t covering the events is inexcusable, though not surprising. I’ve written President Obama asking that he publicly stand against the brutality just like the administration did against similar police activities that happened in Egypt and other countries in the Middle East.

This is America! We have fundamental rights and we’re pissed off! My hunch is that if the brutality doesn’t stop, we’ll see citizens taking up arms. Something has to give. My hope is that the police don’t kill anyone, but it just might take a death to bring attention to the Occupy movement. Until then, if you’re mad about what’s happening to our fellow citizens and want to support them, talk about it. Talk about it with your friends and family. Send emails, sign petitions and make phone calls to officials. It took me all of 15 minutes to send an email to Lt. John A. Pike, the officer that pepper sprayed the UC Davis students and another to Chancellor Katehi. Stop wondering what you can do, and just start taking action. You have time and it’s not difficult.

Some resources to follow and read if you want to keep up with what’s not being covered in the mainstream media:

 – Follow Xeni Jardin, John Perry Barlow, Democracy Now! and Greg Mitchell on Twitter
 – Read This Is Why We Are Protesting on Tumblr
 – Track the #occupy tag on Tumblr



This pairing has been on my mind for a while.

After what I’ve seen the past few weeks, I’ll find it very hard to trust a police officer again. I know it’s unfair to tar them all with the same brush, but to see such unprovoked assault on citizens across such a wide swath of the country where the only common denominator is that they’re considered a “special few” really only points to a single conclusion:

They will hurt you solely because they can; because they want to.

I was there to take down the names of people who were arrested… As I’m standing there, some African-American woman goes up to a police officer and says, ‘I need to get in. My daughter’s there. I want to know if she’s OK.’ And he said, ‘Move on, lady.’ And they kept pushing with their sticks, pushing back. And she was crying. And all of a sudden, out of nowhere, he throws her to the ground and starts hitting her in the head,” says Smith. “I walk over, and I say, ‘Look, cuff her if she’s done something, but you don’t need to do that.’ And he said, ‘Lady, do you want to get arrested?’ And I said, ‘Do you see my hat? I’m here as a legal observer.’ He said, ‘You want to get arrested?’ And he pushed me up against the wall.

Retired New York Supreme Court Judge Karen Smith, working as a legal observer after the raids on Zucotti Park this Tuesday, via Paramilitary Policing of Occupy Wall Street: Excessive Use of Force amidst the New Military Urbanism. (via lukehackney)