Elusive Trope's picture

    The Bystanders

    One of the things I found frustrating when conducting a protest rally was gazing over along the periphery and seeing all of the bystanders.  They stood there, arms folded or akimbo, maybe holding shopping bags when the action was in a downtown site, and gazed upon whatever spectacle we had put together.   Sometimes one individual would lean toward another and make a comment - maybe about the protest or maybe about how they ought to take off and go do what they had originally planned.

    Of course we had flyers prepared and would send a few of the more gregarious amongst us to hand em out and attempt to further engage the bystanders.  As I watched them watch us, in my protest state of mind, I would send out the telepathic messages - come join us, don't just stand there, get involved, make a difference.  I really just couldn't understand why they would choose, when given the option, to not join in a stand against clear cutting or animal experimentation or whatever the cause of the day was.

    Ever now and then we would get one of the bystanders to join in.  A couple of those went on to become highly engaged activists themselves, at least for the time that I knew them.  And more than a few gave their verbal support and promised to make a phone call to a representative, write a letter, etc.  On the flip side there were always the detractors and took the opportunity to tell us we bums, idiots, and their favorite line "go get a job." 

    The explosion of the web and social media is creating an ever larger crowd of bystanders who watch through live feeds on the televisions, smart phones and laptops.  In each one is the potential bystander who ceases to become such, who joins in the action or movement that they are seeing unfold before them.

    Lilly Loofbourow at The Awl recent blog "The Livestream Ended: How I Got Off My Computer and Onto The Street At Occupy Oakland" detailed one such person - herself.  She began:

    When I heard the “We Are the 99%” slogan, I worried. I am movement-skittish. I don't like being spoken for. Anytime I hear the language of political clichés, whether about “workers” or “job creators,” my ears shut down. I know those vocabularies, and I don't agree with the worldviews that produce them.

    ....I listened with enormous interest [to her partner who went down to the Oakland site in its first few weeks], but I still didn't go. At the risk of making this too much about me, I need to make my beliefs and reasons clear, such as they are (and were):

    • I do not believe the police are evil.
    • I do not believe in utopian societies.
    • I distrust extremists of whatever stripe.
    • I believe inflammatory rhetoric shuts down rational thought.
    • I was (and remain) afraid of nighttime Oakland—the desperate Oakland that Occupy Oakland insisted on caring for and actually living with.
    • I am lazy, prone to migraines, and unwilling to be cold, wet, uncomfortable and in constant danger of arrest.

    In short, I'm a moderate: small, fearful, skeptical, selfish, with privilege aplenty. I have health care through the university, where I'm both a student and a teacher. I'm half-Hispanic, but I scan as white. I'm a not atypical Bay Area type: liberal, taxpaying, cautious, law-abiding (maybe to a fault), trying to hang onto the things I have. I have an iPhone, for heaven's sake.

    She details the events as they unfolded for her

    After the live feeds from the networks turned off during the police crack down on the protesters that Tuesday night in Oakland, she finally did go down there.  She has some interesting takes on the fact that when the police moved in is just by chance the networks lost their ability to do their feed.  The whole blog is worth the read. But for the moment what is of interest here is she chose to get involved and see it in person rather through one form of media or another.  She ends:

    And that's how I—a mealy-mouthed moderate visiting Occupy Oakland reluctantly, and for the very first time—was not only welcomed but spoke, was listened to, and was heard. I'll note here that the proposal passed, unamended, and the planning committees are open to anyone who wishes to be involved. The debate continues, and you can participate as much as you want to. After three decades as an American citizen and years of leaving messages for my representative, only last night, speaking into the human microphone, did I feel for the first time that my political participation could matter.

    The best answer I can muster for the question of what an engaged citizen tired of being a spectator can do is this: try the ordinary channels and try being one of the 99%. It is not perfect. Nothing is. But there is room for more than your vote or your money: there is room for you, your body and your brain. It offers something our political system (increasingly peopled as it is by disembodied, bodiless, shadowless “corporate” persons) doesn't. It's this: talk into the human microphone, and your voice doesn't disappear. It's amplified. Talk, and you stand a chance of leaving, not a mark—nothing quite so permanent—but a chalk outline of a shadow that shows that you, too, were once here.

    Her experience is probably a good outline of a multitude of others who have participated in the Occupy actions.  When I say that there is good that comes out of these actions, in good part it the type of experience Lili had of which I am thinking.

    I came across this blog as a result of clicking on a link that took me to another blog on The Awl site: The Night Occupy Los Angeles Tore Itself In Two. by Natasha Vargas-Cooper.

    The basic jest of this blog was how the issue of whether OLA should take no drug stance and how this created a split within the occupiers:

    As one original organizer of Occupy LA described it, "on one side there’s the hardcore Politicos-Get-Shit-Done process freaks and on the other are people who think they are starting a new society."

    Smoking weed cuts to one of the main dilemmas within a leaderless, horizontal, movement like Occupy Los Angeles: who makes the rules? Who enforces the rules? Going even further: should there even be rules? Is this a narrowly focused social movement bent on economic reform through massive but nonviolent participation? Is it a petri dish of something new?¹ There is a wing of the Occupy LA that sees their encampment as a radical new mode of living; one that not only rejects income inequality, but any sort of action that enables one group to represses any other. This means contempt for anything like a parliamentary up or down vote, or adopting the same drug laws as 'the outside.' When someone lights up, especially during daylight hours, there is an instant sense of polarization between those who are willing to behave and those who aren’t. Finally those differences exploded.

    For me, as a bystander to the Occupy phenomenon, watching it unfold in the various cities and towns across the country, it is this broadening of the agenda from a protest against the 1% to something about overhauling the whole system that is most striking.  I have no interest in putting my energies toward starting a new society since it will only end reflecting the same dysfunctions present in the current one.  I see a strong strand, and not just a fringe one, of anti-government sentiment that ultimately is no different and no more asinine than the one expressed by many of those in the Tea Parties.  A perfect example of this is when Occupy Oakland wouldn't allow the paramedics into their site, which was on the key events that pushed the city to shut it down. 

    For this by bystander any inclination to participate at this time dissipates when to do so would mean I am putting my stamp of approval on the effort to look for some non-representational form of government as part of the solution.  There is a good reason we have representational government, even at the town and county level.  I am not interested in attempting to create little self-governed societies within the larger society.

    So after doing a few errands on my way to the current cafe where I write this, I passed my local Occupy protest.  I didn't know it was going on still, but there they a few, maybe a few dozen of them.  There was a moment as I contemplated whether to park my car and join them for a few moments.  And then  the first sign that caught my eye: We Are Scott Olsen.

    Well, to be perfectly frank, I am not Scott Olsen.  What happened to him was an awful thing.  I hope he has a perfect and speedy recovery from his injury.  From the reports he is what one can describe as a good soul, one of those people willing to make sacrifices for the greater good.  But the truth of matter is that I see his injuries as a consequence of bad decisions from both sides of the barricades.  The protesters who started throwing bottles and rocks are just a culpable in Olsen's injury as the police, who did use questionable tactics and most likely were vastly under-trained to deal with such confrontations.

    Did Scott Olsen have a right to be there to express his disapproval for the ending of the Occupy Oakland site?  Yes.  Did he in any way "deserve" what happened to him?  Definitely No.

    Did the group with whom he associated with in order to express that disapproval have the right to throw bottles and rocks at the police, something which would most highly cause a violent reaction from the police.  And this is the problem - it is in my opinion impossible to separate out what happened to Scott Olsen from the actions that led up to it.

    So while he is, as the saying goes, in my prayers, I do not identify with him because I don't identify with a number of people who chose to take the path of violent confrontation with the police a way to express their disapproval.  When the first rocks and bottles were thrown, Olsen's decision to stand with the crowd means whether one likes it or not that he is part of them.  That is the problem with violence during protests like these:  you can't say ultimately that there was violent and non-violent protesters when it comes to the police perspective.  Once the crowd shows that it is willing to do harm, their sole focus is on dispersion, arrest and subduing everyone.  And more often than not they're going to over-react (which does not mean that they should be given a pass in the aftermath).

    From SF Chronicle a description of the struggle that the events on Tuesday highlights:

    But the street confrontations are bringing focus to a central question that those in the Occupy Oakland camp debated repeatedly during their 15 nights outside City Hall - whether demonstrators should opt for violence against police, meeting force with force.

    The majority has supported nonviolence, and many are frustrated that some in the crowd threw bottles and paint at police. But some protesters favoring aggression are determined to continue the tactic. At the heart of the debate is what message the movement wants to project and in what way.

    David Hartsough, who helped lead civil rights sit-ins and marches in the South in the early 1960s, said he has urged Occupy participants in Oakland and San Francisco to redouble nonviolence efforts.

    "If people had fought back when police put the dogs on them in Selma and Birmingham, they wouldn't have gathered the support they got," said Hartsough, who founded the San Francisco-based Nonviolent Peaceforce.

    When Tuesday's protest devolved into a volley of rocks and tear gas, some organizers took to bullhorns. "If you throw something, you're as bad as a cop," one speaker said to the applause of several hundred people.

    A chant followed, conveying the same message, but then someone from the back of the crowd lobbed a glass bottle that shattered on police helmets. Officers responded, lobbing tear gas again.

    Occupy Oakland protester Casey Jones, 28, wore a T-shirt Wednesday reading "thrash and burn," and skateboarded up and down Broadway yelling, "Bring it on!"

    "I'm all about the riot - we need to be violent," he said. "We need more numbers. We'll just keep marching on."

    Thanks to those like Casey Jones, I will remain at this time a bystander, watching Occupy unfold.


    "The protesters who started throwing bottles and rocks are just a culpable in Olsen's injury as the police, who did use questionable tactics and most likely were vastly under-trained"

    Maybe you can testify for the Oakland PD, if and when Olsen's case comes to trial.

    Could it be the courts are likely going to hold the professionals of the Oakland police force to a higher standard than you have, Arrogant Trope (hey, this is Dagblog), when you excuse irresponsible police use of force because of a few rock throwing nutcases? Who had the helmets, the body armor, the shields, the guns, the gas and supposedly the training, and who was there to ensure public safety?

    The Oakland cops didn't even follow their own published guidelines for crowd control, imposed under court order after anti-war protests in 2003, one glaring violation of the standards was they did not have medical personnel on site to treat injuries.

    I doubt the Oakland would like me to testify for them.  Just because in the big picture I put responsibility for the outcome in part on the protester side doesn't mean I don't think there shouldn't be some harsh consequences for the police involved and their superiors who made decisions.

    If you go and unfortunately get your nose broken by some drunk frat boys, I expect them to be arrested for assault even though I put some blame in the big picture on your drunken buddies who were baiting them with taunts about how gay they were.

    It is exactly this kind of unwillingness to accept any kind of responsibility for unacceptable behavior by some of the protestors which undermines the force of accusations against the police. 

    Drunken frat boys??? Who you hangin' with?

    Where were the police injuries from 'rocks'?

    You take some hearsay about rock throwers, and smear the protestors. No police required medical attention, perhaps because they had helmets, face masks, body armor, and shields.

    The accusations against the police will almost certainly stand in court and Oakland will likely pay bigtime for excessive use of force. They didn't follow their own policies on crowd control, if you would bother to read them at the link above.

    Get a grip on reality trope, the Oakland cops have a long history of abusive behavior, DUHH! that is why they were operating under a court order!

    you tell me to get a grip on reality when it is me not you who is attempting to take in all of the facets of the incident rather than focus on one aspect of it because it serves a particular ideological narrative.  I searched pretty extensively for any credible source that disputed what you call the hearsay about rock throwers, and found none.  Actually I didn't find even non-credible sources denying the rock throwers. 

    Now it would be nice if the protesters were all just peaceful and non-violent civil disobedience protesters who were then tear gassed without provocation.  That would give the moral indignation a real bump up. 

    And in your ideological blindness you can't even see that I am saying that charges as will probably be brought against the police should hold up in court. 

    You want this to be angels on one side and devils on the other.  But if you were able to get a grip on reality you would see that isn't the case.  Sorry.

    One more thing.  When the attempt at outlining what happened or didn't happen, ultimately what one's past behavior is irrelevant.  That behavior may give one clues to what to look for and send up red flags, but it makes one no less guilty or innocent.

    What if it turns out that the police officer who shot the cannister was from one of the police forces brought in, who were not under court order.  Would that make them less guilty of abuse?


    No police required medical attention, perhaps because they had helmets, face masks, body armor, and shields.

    A second thing. The point is that the moment a crowd decides to start hurtling things at police officers who have been sent in under orders to disperse the crowd, they don't know to what extent individuals within the crowd will take things.  That is why these kind of situations get out of hand and the police typically over-react: no single officer nor their commanding officers want to see a single one of them have to get medical attention.  And they will do everything they perceive within their limits to ensure that doesn't happen.  A protester who makes a decision to take a stand against them should understand that, or they have no business being out there.  Throwing a rock or a bottle that has little chance of doing harm to the officers in the line may seem cute, it may play into the mythological and romantic images running through the protesters heads, but it is at its most basic level stupid, asinine and just play foolish.  Scott Olsen can tell you why.

    Jesus. I've never seen a more beautiful justification for unprovoked police brutality. If you go to a protest - you don't DESERVE to be beat down or blasted flat-trajectory point-blank in the face ... but certainly if  you protest the government, you should EXPECT it - and certainly don't blame the cops when they beat you down ... they're on edge don't you know, the last thing they'd want to do is risk an injury to THEMSELVES in the interest of protecting public safety.

    Just a point of clarification. I've seen quite a of video of the start of that action. From many different angles. People simply weren't throwing stuff at the police - not even the sort of stuff you'd see at a concert, let alone a plausible perceived danger.

    People were doing dances in front of 'em. Back flips in front of 'em. One chick laid out doughnuts on the railing in front of 'em ... that was funny. Some kid did a few kick-flips on his skate board. A few people brought signs in close enough so they could be read. The occasional media person would scamper in to get that shot of them broadcasting with the line of riot-police behind them. A few people walked up and down and videotaped the line. There was a navy guy standing there with his flag. And then the marine. I'm not say'in it was his fault a cop blasted him point-blank in the face with a tear-gas canister ... I'm just sayin. I guess we'll blame it on the bitch with the doughnuts.

    Nothing changed in crowed behavior at all when a bunch of the cameras, and the hot anchor woman in red all skedaddled real quick-like and within seconds the police opened fire without any provocation. There's video from all angles. Protesters didn't start throwing things until the tear-gas started ... and at that point what they did was to start throwing the smoking canisters back in the direction of the police and away from the crowds. You are simply regurgitating a easily demonstrative lie by the Oakland police - the same police who swear there were no flash-bang grenades used (those were all M-80s from the protesters, dontcha know) - not even the ones the cops are on video throwing into a group of people trying to rescue that marine ... while one was reaching out to the cops for help no less. Sick shit.

    If, after that, you'd look at a group of protesters and reject them because one in the group was holding a sign in solidarity with that kid (who still can't speak and still may need brain surgery) ... with a reaction that was basically "fuck that kid - I don't stand behind punks like him!" no less ... what an amazing reason to turned off by the protesters.

    Did you say "Jeezus?" ;o)

    Well said as usual, kgb. I saw the video as well, and only just now saw Trope's response to the incident. I swear, he sounds like he's rehearsing for an appearance on Hannity & Friends. About the only way his remarks are appropriate to this specific incident - which he references as the target for his verbal assault - is if it was viewed from the perspective of the Fox "News"room.

    YeeGads! With supposed friends like this...

    And the kicker is that in the non-representational democracy seeking consensus, I get to drive the direction of the new society.  Yee-Haw.

    In just these few words of contemptuous dismissal, you speak volumes about your actual level of commitment to the pursuit of peace and justice and your degree of allegiance to the status quo.

    I'm actually embarrassed for you, who so obviously pretends to be something you are not. And the truly sad part of it is that I don't think you can see it for yourself.

    Yee- Haw, indeed!

    I've never seen a more beautiful justification for unprovoked police brutality. If you go to a protest - you don't DESERVE to be beat down or blasted flat-trajectory point-blank in the face ... but certainly if  you protest the government, you should EXPECT it - and certainly don't blame the cops when they beat you down ... they're on edge don't you know, the last thing they'd want to do is risk an injury to THEMSELVES in the interest of protecting public safety.

    You believe they were unprovoked.  Since from what I read even the protesters never denied there wasn't bottles and rocks thrown, I say the police were provoked - even if in the video you saw there wasn't something thrown. 

    You should expect it if you or someone in the crowd you are standing decided to move from a non-violent action to one of violence.  It doesn't matter what is thrown and its potential for harm.  That isn't the point.  The point is that someone has made a decision to throw something.  And from the police perspective that means two things 1) that something else will probably be thrown and 2) they don't know if that next thing might cause harm or worse. And they will do what is necessary to avoid personal injury.  You can disagree with that, that the risk is part of getting their paycheck, that they should just remain calm as some kid with a bandana over his face tosses things at him because, hey, he is just worked up and we just have to let him get all that pent up energy out.

    As I have said over and over again, the police who responded in an excessive way should be punished. 

    But there is fundamental psychology at work.  I knew that when I was twelve and thirteen years old running with wrong crowd.  I had numerous run ins with the police in those days, but I never had a serious problem because as soon as they showed up I gave them the upmost respect.  In all of the protests that I organized, I never had a problem with the police because I treated them as partners in the real goal.  In fact I had some great conversations with the police who were sent to oversee the demonstrations. 

    Obviously you stand against the fundamental right of a city to maintain order on its streets.  If the police show up and tell you to disperse, you have three options 1) walk (run) away 2) sit down and get arrested or 3) resist.  The moment the individual or group chooses option 3 then who knows what will happen.  It is called playing with fire.  Shit will happen.  And if someone in their free will chooses that, then that his or her right.  But when the shit hits the fan, all I will tell you is I told you so. 

    Had all those in Oakland laid down in protest and offered no resistance whatsoever, what would have happened?  They would have been arrested and no one would have been hurt.  In the end, they didn't have the conviction where they were willing to go to jail.  They wanted to run around the streets and voice their anger, but not go to jail for it.   In my opinion if they weren't willing to do that, they should have just gone home and look for another more civil way of voicing their disapproval.

    Instead they decided to poke and taunt the drunken frat boys.  Which is no way to run a political movement.  Which is why I choose not join in this movement.  Because if Oakland is the model it is being run by amateurs at best and no one at worst.

    So good luck with your movement.  Your responses only reinforces that lessons over the decades have not been learned and my energies and spirit is best being spent in those places where I am currently putting them.

    "You believe they were unprovoked.  Since from what I read even the protesters never denied there wasn't bottles and rocks thrown, I say the police were provoked - even if in the video you saw there wasn't something thrown."

    In fact, I saw a protestor from the Oakland protests admit that the crowd was shooting bottle rockets and throwing rocks and bottles at the police, on Lawrence O'Donnell's show*, I believe.  But the so-called left is as good at ignoring inconvenient facts as the Tea Party right.

    *(Cue the "Lawrence O'Donnell is no progressive" nonsense, since attacking the veracity of anyone they disagree with is another hallmark the argument stylings of the professional left share with the professional right.  No, Lawrence O'Donnell is no Dennis Kucinich, and his show's not very good.  But I find it incredible that the show would hire an actress to play a protestor in order to discredit the OWS movement.)    


    Go to the raw video. There are footage-hours available of the 10 minutes in question. I couldn't identify any rocks ... or even plastic bottles. Find proof of the incidents you are convinced were sufficient to justify the police response. Highlight it. It must be there ... somewhere. 'Prolly just needs a better looker than I.

    At least give a link to the frikkin O'Donnel show that (you think) is being referenced.

    O'Donnell is progressive in the same way members of the Third Way think tank are progressive ... which is a brutally anti-worker and anti middle class version of the ideology.

    But what does that have to do with anything? It seems the ideology of the interviewer shouldn't matter much unless they Fox it and twist things to create a dishonest implication for the purpose of advancing their world view (which, I'm not aware he has a history of). You are fighting against your own straw-man. Until you actually provide a link to the video you are talking about, it's pretty difficult to have an opinion if the interview even says what you are implying it did.

    "Find proof of the incidents you are convinced were sufficient to justify the police response."

    Where did I say the police response was justified?  The police overreactions to these protests have been the single most effective tool in getting OWS' message heard by a wider audience.

    But, unlike the upper-middle-class twits who are doing most of the occupying, I know that if you start trying to get tough, or even mouthy, with someone with the legal authority to beat, tase or shoot you, you're likely to get beaten, tased, or shot.  And, if there's any truth to the claims that the police were in some manner provoked, then these protestors already lost the argument.

    I found the O'Donnell video quite easy to find with a quick google.

    Clip of Lawrence O'Donnell interview of Occupy Oakland protester Tasha Casini, link below.

    It starts out with her saying they were warned they should disburse because they were in violation of Penal Code 409 or they would use "chemical weapons." Then they play a clip of the police chief at a press conference saying they had to use tear gas because bottles and rocks were being thrown. And O'Donnell asks her is that is true, that bottles and rocks were being thrown. She says that "yes! people were doing that," (she does say the yes like with an exclamation point) but adds that she thinks the use of "tear gas, rubber bullets and flash grenades" were an inappropriate response to bottles and rocks being thrown at police "in full riot gear," and that they should absolutely not use "chemical weapons."


    Interesting that with this one protester, it's an argument about equality of weaponry, rather than the "peaceful protesters vs. over-reactive police" that is the typical thing I've seen with other Occupy sites.

    Interesting too that the video has had a lot of views. I suspect this kind of result is one of the reasons individuals speaking for the movement to the media  has been quite controversial in Occupy Wall Street General Assembly.

    What do you believe would be a positive direction along which the OWS movement might evolve?

    Review the video. Look at the police line. Look at the proportion of law enforcement personnel to protestors. Try to identify - or even imagine! - the threat that sparked the violent assault launched against everyone in his fashion, with use of tear gas, rubber bullets, concussion grenades, etc.

    I, for one, do not dispute the protestor's "admission" that there were some within the large group who were throwing rocks and launching bottle rockets. And I haven't seen anyone disputing that possibility as in the case of your strawman whom you attack so splendiferously here.

    But I think the matter-of-fact admission of this by the protestor underscores the bigger point: The response of the police "peace keepers"was severely disproportional to the threat they faced. I mean, come on! Bottle rockets? Stones? Thank god they didn't start hurling epithets, or we could expect AK-47's in response, no? Maybe a few drone strikes?

    If Oakland chooses to send in the troops to instigate a major confrontation of this kind, it is incumbent upon them to plan for whatever threats they might confront. Looks like they did just that with all their riot gear that protects them from stuff like the random stone or bottle rocket. There was little apparent need to launch a full-scale violent assault against the protestors as seen on the video. And there certainly can be no justification in law enforcement procedures for hurling a stun grenade at an injured civilian and those who have rushed to his aid. Even in war, the medic is protected from any such assault and we don't shoot the wounded non-combatant.

    But then again, why am I wasting my time arguing with a troll. I'm certain you're already on to your next strawman argument in support of whatever talking points you are being fed. Good luck with that!

    "But then again, why am I wasting my time arguing with a troll. I'm certain you're already on to your next strawman argument in support of whatever talking points you are being fed."

    And I'm not going to waste my time arguing with a cartoon Wobbly with anger issues.  Smell you later.

    Eggzackly! Always good to learn I got'em pegged correctly from the start. On to the next strawman, eh? Sure beats staying on topic and speaking original thoughts. but for now, just know one thing: I manage my anger very well, indeed! But I don't suffer fools gladly.

    What the hell are you even talking about, bozo?  Here' a hint:  when the voices in your head start making sense, it's time to seek professional help.  Good luck with your treatment.

    Curious. Do you have *any* professional crowd control/security training? Or are you just waxing ponfiticatious from the police perspective about something you have zero clue about? (I'm armed-certified in Maryland and Virginia; just need to re-up range-time). You are clearly don't know the expected standards.

    The protesters time and time again have proved not to be liars. They will only assert to what they know to be true from their perspective. From any single individual's standpoint it would not be possible to trivially deny what the police asserted.

    Fortunately there is this thing called technology in the modern world. We don't have to take people's word for it. Not protesters. Not the police. And certainly not some random blog dude who authoritatively pulls bullshit right our of their own ass. Anything the protesters have asked me to believe, they have offered concrete supporting proof for.

    I reviewed enough video to confidently say there is no ambiguity. No time-gaps. The attack was unprovoked. There were tons of cameras going from tons of different angles - including several being made by the police themselves. Please give a link to the video that shows objects being thrown by the crowd in such a way that could plausibly be called creating a dangerous situation for the police or protesters.

    Let's see it. If it did indeed happen, it isn't physically possible for it to not to be on video. Not possible. If it existed, don't you imagine someone from the police or Mayor's political operation would have highlighted it by now? No. They are relying on police-state sycophants who don't actually care what is factual to spread clear misinformation ... and you are happily playing the role, as usual. The only thing that could be remotely viewed as dangerous thrown by protester was throwing their the police department's own tear-gas canisters back at the line.

    If you can't produce a shred of evidence form an amazingly thoroughly documented incident - in the face of copious video that proves what you are saying is simply dead-wrong ... it becomes bald-face lying against all evidence. The stock and trade of conservative political operatives. Presumably you've chosen this approach because reality makes it kind of difficult to advance your long professed anti-worker political objectives in the current environment.

    But to be clear. It isn't my movement. Frankly, I'm genuinely amazed it it's staying power. It's just that I'm consistently supportive of true Americans - even ones that take an approach that doesn't match the path I'm currently on at the moment. Don't worry about me ... we can meet at finish line; the more movements taking different approaches is a beautiful thing.

    In contrast, you are consistently supportive of anything that tears down the American worker and/or promotes the power of the entrenched elite. On both policy and ideology you are far to the police-state right of almost every self-professed conservative I know. Hence, our competing objectives lead me to consistently feel a sense of support and desire to nurture groups and movements that for yourself consistently generate a sense of revulsion and a desire to to undermine and destroy.

    The thing I don't understand about your entire premise - how does taking the enemy in to one's ranks strengthen a movement? You are hostile to everything they hope to achieve.

    Curious. Do you have *any* professional crowd control/security training?

    No. But I have I worked with police forces in both Washington State and British Columbia.  I must say at the time I did, the police force in Vancouver, B.C. were some of best. They understood what would bring about a win-win situation and it is actually the conflicts with some fellow protesters during those times who were convinced that generating a violent conflicts would best serve the cause that colors my opinion at this moment. 

    I was there in the WTO Seattle debacle when the police (and the city in the aftermath) over-reacted and abused innocent citizens who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Nothing like being peppered sprayed as one walks out of Nordstroms.

    The police at that time were working over 10 and 12 hours without break.  They didn't know how to control the crowd and let them get too close to delegates.  Individuals who just wanted to create a violent confrontation (ie had no real political agenda) showed up on the scene.  And so on.

    I could give more examples. But the point is I do have some experience and knowledge in the police/protester dynamic. I know it would make it easy for you if I didn't so you could discount what I have to say.  But I am sorry, I spent a number of year in the front lines.

    I do find it interesting that you do not link to any videos.  You want to convince me then prove your case.  As my quote in the original blog indicates, even the protesters were acknowledging the violence that came from the protester side.

    In the end -to be pro law and order does not make one a supporter of a police state.  To assert such is just hyperbolic ideological rhetoric whether it is coming from the far left radicals or the far right libertarians.

    The thing I don't understand about your entire premise - how does taking the enemy in to one's ranks strengthen a movement? You are hostile to everything they hope to achieve.

    That doesn't even make sense. The premise of the blog is about ultimately (sorry if it was too subtle) about how to persuade those who are not immediately aligned with one's goals and ultimately how to get those on the sidelines to identify with one's position or stance.

    If one sees the bystander as the enemy then there is no hope.

    The premise as you state it is precisely the motivation that drove the Pinkerton's and the police to riot at the Haymarket. And it worked. The movement in support of the eight hour day suffered a stunning blow as the newspapers and the police and the McCormicks who owned them all painted the protestors-at-large as the aggressors. Hell, they even hanged a few of them just to make the point, independent of whether these people were in fact guilty of any charges levelled against them.

    You've established your premise quite well, Trope. And you also determine for all to see just whose side you would have taken in the Haymarket Affair, and you remain comfortable in knowing that your support for and belief in "law and order" as applied here will keep your neck out of the noose. So be it.

    But I offer to you the words of a different kind of renegade:

    "If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom — go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsel or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!" - Samuel Adams

    So you are going back 125 years to find some example.  Lordy. 

    And here is wiki:

    An unknown person threw a dynamite bomb at police as they dispersed the public meeting.

    Is this really what you want to compare Occupy Oakland with?

    Okay.  Then you prove my point.  Thanks Sleepin.  Maybe we are on the same page afterall.

    I believe I do indeed prove your point. kgb's refinement of your position (as stated below) is preciously poignant within this context:

    "Someone had to be hanged for it. That's just the natural reaction, of course. I'm not saying they" (the Haymarket "anarchists") "deserved it, but if they didn't want to be hanged for a crime they didn't commit ... they shouldn't have protested for their rights if there was any chance another person might respond to brutal violence by being violent."

    And just what, Herr Trope, would be your response if in fact it was at last proven that the McCormicks (or the Pinkerton's or their other "compatriots" or agents) had built and detonated the bomb as has been credibly alleged. Would this, too, weigh against the vigorous, non-violent, and disobedient exercise of the right to assembly and the right to free speech because the police might respond with lethal force?

    "Very well, then!" I can hear the Koch Brothers and Goldman Sachs in orders to the police. "Bring on the howitzers and scatter-shot!"

    In the end, your rage seems to be based on the idea that I believe that the police involved are not guilty of some crimes. I've tried over and over again to assert that I believe that the police on both individual and organizational level should be held accountable for their crimes.  It would seem i am dealing with people who developed their socio-political understanding  through comic books where the lines between good and evil are clearly defined.  I am sorry there is no justice league. no wonder powers can be activated.

    So, the answer is no. You have no plausible training or experience in actual police, crowd control, or security work - beyond having been friends with a few cops and having been pepper-sprayed in a protest (not as a participant - but as you stepped out from shopping at Nordstroms, no less) and then having read-up on it.

    I do find it interesting that you do not link to any videos.  You want to convince me then prove your case.

    Any single video I might link would just meet the response: the violence just wasn't shown in this angle. I'm reporting to you the results of my own analysis that involved a couple hours of viewing video; frame-by-frame in some cases.

    Try these. Do an equivalent analysis so you have equal standing to report. If you find any that show the police being increasingly pelted with bottles and rocks just before blasting that Marine in the face, do let us know.

    You are by no means a dispassionate bystander. You aren't genuinely persuadable. Nor are you particularly representative of any large demographic who's members might be swayed to the cause. You are an opinionated activist who actively promotes stuff that that is the exact opposite of the things at the core of what's being professed by members of the OWS movement.

    But more importantly, you miss the entire point of the movement. They don't exist to attract people into joining a parade - they exist to empower themselves and thereby empower everyone.

    I wasn't peppered sprayed at the WTO protests.  Anyone who knows anything about it knows that a number of shoppers, including an elderly lady caught on tape, who stepped out into the mayhem were peppered sprayed by the police who were out of control. 

    I'm sorry my past experience in working with the police force in order to ensure everyone went home in one place is not enough for you.  Maybe I should say I've gone through non-violent direct action workshops, too.  Since I have never been a police officer, and chances are never will be, I have not gone through crowd control training. 

    So are you saying any person who not gone through such training cannot make an assertion regarding this event.  Including the people involved and folks here on dagblog.  Or is it only me?

    Ultimately and in our own history, Trope, innocent people are put to death (Indeed, I've personally visited the grave of such unfortunates) under the premise of "preserving the peace" that is very precisely the kind of absolute bullshit you spout here. SweetJeezus, but you are one dispassionate and cowardly bootlicker! Is there NOTHING that stirs you to attention to rise against an abuse of power? Or are you forever wriggling about thusly, without benefit of backbone or carapace?

    You've really gone off the edge on this one, and you show exactly why the last person you want along with you in a confrontation with fascists is the "friend" who - at the first provocation - will offer your head on a pike hoping it will sate the bastards.

    Bottom line, Trope? There was NO justification for the assault as witnessed on the video. There is absolutely NO justification - meaning N.O.N.E.!! - for a police line doing nothing to assist a seriously injured man laying virtually at their feet, watching as others come to his aid, and then lobbing a stun grenade into their midst - extremely close, I might add, to the already injured and defenseless person already there on the ground. That behavior simply cannot be excused away as "self-defense" or "keeping the peace" or as any notion of responsible peace-keeping. And guess what, hero? Your weak attempt at offering a pass on this one in effort to placate the bastards - or your OWN fearful cowardice - is really delusional and disgusting.

    Gotta call it as it is. In your attempt to always be the "dispassionate observer" who is so much more an intelleckshual than everyone else in the room, you are WAY out of bounds on this one! Get a grip, man.

    Someone had to be hanged for it. That's just the natural reaction, of course. I'm not saying they deserved it, but if they didn't want to be hanged for a crime they didn't commit ... they shouldn't have protested for their rights if there was any chance another person might respond to brutal violence by being violent.

    I think you have refined the Trope argument to its essence. Yes, you've reduced it to a nutshell, so to speak. ;O)

    You're still maddening in some of your libertarian nonsense(!), kgb, but I still really appreciate the way you think and express yourself. Good to see you!

    And yet no one seems capable of providing anything beyond an ideological rant in response. You don't like my argument but you can't come up with a better one.

    Ideological rant? Not hardly. Lots of substance that you choose to ignore, Trope. It's becoming a nasty habit of yours lately. Strawman arguments. Pick-and-choose what specifically will be addressed by you and what will be ignored. Is it laziness? Or just tired of defending the indefensible?

    Go ahead. Are you serious about wanting a challenge to your argument? Then talk about the Haymarket corollary with the events in Oakland as expressed in substantial terms within this thread. Or don't. But don't insult others by dismissing their effort to engage in substantial discussions as "ideological rants." I would think such intellectual cowardice would be anathema to such a self-professed intelleckshual as you.

    Yet you provide no substance only more comments about how I don't.  Merely referring to the Haymarket Riots doesn't cut it with me.  You claim intellectual cowardice on my part but you offer nothing to counter.  The Haymarket Riots were about striking workers who had specific grievances.  But the Occupy movement supporters get pissy when someone asks about what their grievances are.  Give us time.  But don't take our tents down.


    The corollary as drawn between the police riot in Oakland and the police riot in Haymarket is very much on target for this discussion. And your continued dismissal and avoidance of the topic is actually all the answer that is required.

    On a scale of one to ten, you are hereby found to range in the category of eleven: the "wholly full of shit" rating. That even you find your arguments to be indefensible is really quite an admission on your part because I've seen you attempt a defense of the ridiculous so many times in the past.

    Nice work, Trope!

    The corollary as drawn between the police riot in Oakland and the police riot in Haymarket is very much on target for this discussion.

    your assertion is not enough. please explain why it is "very much on target."

    Watch your video at the 34 second to 36 second mark.  The cannister in question obviously is thrown by some police officer who has no view of the situation.  Should he or she have thown it? No.  Should he or she be punished for making that decision yes?

    And when looks at the very beginning of your video what does one see?  What is the point of the non-dispersal?  You may believe that this doesn't matter.  That regardless of circumstances, the people have a right to disregard the demands of the state as a matter of principle.

    I know Q hates it when I bring up my experience on the logging roads (I guess because it undermines his ability to discredit what I have to say), but we always gave into the authority of those demanding we clear the way.  Except for those that went into non-threatening stances and were taken off to jail.  There are rules to the game and we chose to play by them.  And guess what, no one was ever hurt let alone put into critical condition.  And in a number of cases we were able to make head way on our issue. 

    So you can you take your revolutionary idealism with its violence in the streets elsewhere. I'm not buying it.  And my guess is your reaction to me is that you know there are plenty of others who would be otherwise sympathetic to cause who feel the same the same way I do.

    What about the spiked trees and all the monkey-wrenched equipment? Certainly you aren't going to pretend the folks who did that to Northwestern loggers were completely unaffiliated with the exact same movement simultaneously protesting on our logging roads?

    Hell, those weren't even attacks against anyone in authority, just at random guys trying to make a living .... oorrrrr maybe that's the point. I'm surprised you could possibly have joined with a movement involved in such highly publicized acts of violence and property destruction.

    What is the point of the non-dispersal?  You may believe that this doesn't matter.  That regardless of circumstances, the people have a right to disregard the demands of the state as a matter of principle.

    Don't you have that ass backwards; or is that backwards.

    I'm not confused though on this fact; the government derives their power from the governed.

    Evidently some have forgotten that fundamental premise, some believe the government can disregard the will of the people?

    Isn't that where we are now?   The government off the oligarchy, by the oligarchy, for the oligarchy?

    Buy a lobbyist if you want your liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

    General welfare: Stay away from defenders of the oligarchy, for your own safety, stay away from officers with riot gear and guns.

    I'm puzzled by your view of bystanders to an exhibition/demonstration. Why would someone just going about their day - likely with a whole day's worth of plans already - drop everything and start walking in a protest they randomly happened upon .... even if they totally supported the idea?

    Generally marches are planned in advance - and folks set the day aside for just that purpose. Participant usually conducted notable logistics in advance to properly allocate time for the demonstration and ensure they are properly equipped to make the experience bearable - if not enjoyable. Thinking someone is going to have immediately available free-time and an instant desire to join a march without preparation is a long-shot to even hope for - let alone get frustrated about. Having no onlookers at all is what makes a sucky demonstration. The whole point is to get previously unaware bystanders to pay attention to you long enough so they think about what it is you want them to think about.

    And I must say, in that regard ... the OWS folks certainly have you thinking. Now you just have to learn. Until you have something to offer, there isn't much point in you joining in.

    Maybe I wasn't that clear, and in part that might have to do with my assumption that readers are aware of a number of threads regarding me and my history with protests.  I was speaking of me in my activist mind during those days, a state of mind I have since left.  It is the nature of the activist to be absorbed by their cause.  Just as someone who is absorbed with art-house films who cannot understand why someone would go see the lastest Die Hard movie and not the latest hauntingly beautiful film from Denmark. 

    The point of this blog is in part a response to those who are all for this occupy movement who may wonder why the crowds of supporters are as big as they are.  Why the movement hasn't made even more ground then it has.  How can someone who is in basic agreement with the cause stand there on the sidelines.

    I did miss the bio threads so I'm not aware of the specifics of your history ... but I understood that the post was from your prior perspective as an activist.

    I suppose I never understood why art-house movie buffs expect everyone else to suddenly catch their passion either ... I can totally see that parallel though. That's just not what I'd see as the objective of demonstrating in most instances ... but I imagine that's somewhat different for everyone. Generally, I'm not really a street-protest kind of guy. I'm more of a give-city-council-a-fit-by-using-every-obscure-ordinance-in-the-book-to-challenge-their-nonsense, file appeals and maybe bring some folks along to speak at the council meeting sort. Mixed results really.

    I haven't heard anyone in the OWS movement wondering stuff like that yet. It's still kind of a bewildered feeling-out as to what to do with their new-found attention, supporters and resources.

    Ain't it funny. Back when white middle class middle America was doing just fine, the problems of seniors and blacks and other minorities and the poor wasn't the middle class's problem.

    But now with the middles class going all ghetto and getting shit on, it's EVERYBODY'S problem.

    Yeah it's funny.  I don't think there has been some massive paradigm shift in the psychology of people.  People still get involved when they think they directly impacted. Some see what happens in the environment on the other side of the globe as directly impacting them, others only when the water from their tap starts spewing poison. In other words, there hasn't been some new found love for those who are less fortunate.  If the economy suddenly picks up again, we'll be right back where we were before.

    What a hopeless, miserable response.  Back to bed, Trope.

    Want to provide me some evidence to the contrary?  I would be interested in checking it out. 

    And real hope is born, in my opinion, in an understanding of the way things are, not the way we would like them to be.  Of course, our limitations because we are human means we never are sure how accurate our understanding is.  The quest is to keep seeking a more full understanding, knowing we will never get that guarantee we've got it right.

    Still waiting.

    I think it's both.  My experience has been that when people suffer misfortune themselves, they develop more compassion for others who have suffered similar misfortune, and their attention is directed to the rungs lower than theirs on the ladder, instead of to those higher above.

    The evidence has always shown that the poor are more generous in terms of philanthropy than rich, if one breaks the population into those two groups.  There are a number of factors that play into this.  One can say that the individuals realize they may need the servives int he future (in part because they may have already used them in the past); they know family and friends who are currently using them or have used them in the recent past; and they know because of living near the edge they are more sympathic to what it is like to live under the surface of the edge.

    Or it could be that a much higher percentage of the the rich are selfish, greedy assholes, which is how they got to be rich in the first place.

    could be. so the question is: what system of soci-political governance do we impose to deal with that

    You already know my preferences.

    Yeah. When the majority of people in a nation experience a problem ... that's what usually defines "Everyobody's problem". Not sure if it's funny exactly - more a product of simple mathematics.

    And for the record. Considering the rich aren't really even paying taxes (and haven't been for quite some time);  and that the poor, clearly, aren't exactly an amazing tax base to look to in providing support for themselves. To whatever extent the marginalized have gotten any attention at all over the last couple decades ... who the hell do you think has been shouldering it as "their problem" .... money-unicorns?

    How about a little bit of props for the Middle Class here; we're pretty much the only ones pulling any weight at all. And we genuinely aren't all white. That's a racist stereotype.

      I support the OWS movement. I am not in a position, geographical or otherwise to participate directly. I am glad that so many people are pissed off to a degree that they are willing to take a hard stand and invest energy in acting on their concerns.
     I expect that in any crowd of more than ten or fifteen people that there will be some whom I consider to be assholes. The OWS crowd no doubt has some assholes in it. A group of cops has some assholes in it and they have clubs and guns. That group of cops probably has zero members who are strongly enough anti-asshole cop that they will act to have the assholes among their peers removed. They will not police themselves. I have my opinion/guess on the different ratios of assholes in the two groups I am discussing, but that is beside the point.  
     The chances for OWS to be successful will be greatly enhanced if they can keep from giving the cops any excuse for acting like pissed off or scared cops or like bullies with an attitude and a license to attack. Cops are like pack animals when in a tense and potentially dangerous situation. So ares almost everybody else. Most people, in the right circumstances, will become part of a mob/pack. A pack of cuddly lap dogs will tear your baby child to pieces. A pack of pissed off cops will beat you to a bloody pulp before they shoot you, and if you survive they will make up charges to send you to prison.  A mob might do any damned thing. OWS should do everything within its power to avoid becoming a mob or of letting any small percentage of its members give the impression that the group is a mob.
     The police are ready and anxious to do some policing on the OWS crowds. To prevent that and allow the movement to grow and have good effect it must police itself when it comes to dealing with provocation by anyone within it.
     If I had a chance to offer an idea directly to OWS I might suggest something like this.  I would ask the crowd to pledge to be non-violent and to not destroy property. I would ask them to not give the cops any excuse to be violent. I would ask every member to always say to any outsider or media person that they and the group they are aligned with are committed to those propositions. Then, I would ask them to approve of the idea that members take pictures of any member of their crowd that was seen throwing anything at the cops or otherwise instigating violence. Everyone has a camera. [An exemption for throwing a CS canister right back at the pricks would seem to be A-fuckin' OK, but even that should be prohibited]  I would ask for an agreement that people who instigated violence were acting counter-productively and might well be planted agents and it is the onerous responsibility of the group to police itself.
     I think if this whole thing is to have a chance to succeed, if we are to have hope that we can impose the rule of just law on what has become our unjust rulers, OWS must police itself. I think that a person inclined to throw a bottle anonymously from behind a bunch of people might have second thoughts if he knew that the vast majority of those people were completely against him, [probably a him], and that they were turning their cameras away from the pack of cops and towards him to record what he is doing. That might well be enough of a disincentive to keep him in line.
     People have reason to be angry and confrontations with the police will have a lot of anger expressed, but OWS must not let the general public come to agree with any authorities who wish for an excuse to loose the dogs.

     Another thing: This crap I always hear about how this cop or that soldier wasn't trained for the situation is, oh yeah, I already sad it, it is crap. In this case, as is often true, it is apologetic bullshit offered to excuse the actions which are inexcusable. That no good asshole cop that lobbed the flash grenade right into the group trying to help the guy who had just been severely injured by some other cop did not act wrongly because he hadn't been trained well enough. He did what he did because he wanted to hurt someone, because he knew he could hide behind his uniform, and he thought, without thinking, that he could get away with it. He probably will. You will get more chances to apologize for the tools of repression and you will never be confused with Scott Olsen. 

    So someone is pissed off about the situation.  Fine.  The question is: how to take that sentiment of pissed-offness and do something positive. 

    Much of the rants about this incident is based on the idea that there was no other options.  And that is, to use your phraseology, crap.  There are other options beyond going into the streets.  How about taking that same energy and put into taking over the Democratic Party? 

    Maybe those other options don't give the same transitory immediate rush, maybe those options take more time, with no more guarantee of success, but they at least offer the removal of the risk of the mob mentality which serves no one in any way.

    He did what he did because he wanted to hurt someone, because he knew he could hide behind his uniform, and he thought, without thinking, that he could get away with it.

    Really, you know this for a fact?  You know for a fact that was where he was aiming?  You know in his heart he was trying to hurt someone?  That he hadn't mis-aimed?  You know this?  I would like to know how?  You know it was because he was seeking to hide behind his uniform?  How do you know this?  It may be true, but I would really, really like how you were to access information that allowed you to come to these conclusions.  I am sure the DA in Oakland would also like to have access to this information.  So please do tell.

    "How about taking that same energy and put into taking over the Democratic Party?"

    That energy is there largely because the Democratic party has been such a non representative of the 99%. Taking over the Democratic party would take many election cycles. Re-directing the party might be much quicker. We have a recent and ongoing example of a movement pushing the Republican Party in the direction they want it to go. I do not agree with most of what the Tea Party pushes but I recognize the success they are having. Maybe the OWS movement will have some of the same affect on the Dems. I hope so.

    "You know in his heart he was trying to hurt someone?"

    No, I know it in my heart. Do you think you are the only one who has ever had any real street experience. You kissed the cops ass, not surprising, but I saw people who were innocent of anything other than not kissing the cops ass get their ass kicked for real. And the Oakland D.A. does not want any evidence. He does not want to prosecute a cop and he does not want to be in the embarrassing position of not prosecuting a guilty cop. 

    That energy is there largely because the Democratic party has been such a non representative of the 99%.

    That is because most people of the 99% have not been involved and allowed a few to make decisions until the time it came on that tuesday to pull the lever in the voting booth.  And even then the amount of participation over the last fifty years  has been pathetic.  The ability of a single tv ad to shift voting behavior is pathetic reflection of the country's political engagement. yet somehow I suppose to believe just a change in structure is going to make a difference.  Yeah right.  It is all about the Koch brothers, or whatever bogey man one wants to throw out there.

    The redirection of the Republican party, with the deep shifts recently, have been a result of decades of activism.  The amount of disappointment that was swallowed by the far activists during the Reagan/Bush years can fill volumes. 

    But we live in a generation that instant gratification, which isn't much different from the previous generation.  I'm pissed off is enough to expect instant results.  Thankfully those who were seeking changes in civil rights knew it was a matter of keeping one's eyes on the prize.

    And lastly, I don't think I am the only one with experience.  I have had mine, other theirs.  I have my opinion, they have theirs.  But my opinion is mine and, guess what, I will express it.  Because that is what freedom is about. I would end with saying that if my conclusions agreed with yours you would be embracing my experience as having value. Peace.

    From what I can tell, both the Oakland occupation and the OWS group nationwide are redoubling their efforts to engage in nonviolence education and to clarify the definition of the movement as a nonviolent one.

    Which is a good thing.  But any one who has an inkling about these kind of situations knows those kind of situations which will have a high likelihood of ending in violence in spite of the best of intentions.  One can decide that the risk is worth it.  In case of, say, Eygpt, one is going to say it worthwhile to roll the dice.  But in the US and given the goals of something like reform of current system instead of regime change, then maybe it isn't. 

    But in the US and given the goals of something like reform of current system

    How do you reform a system that is so corrupt, where the only voices heard are those of the lobbyist.

    Trope; wake up; you can't afford a politician or justice.

    Haven't you heard; the Supreme Court says money talks and has rights.

    It's the Golden Rule.......... he that has the gold, rules.

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