19 October 2011

“There are risks and costs to a program of 
action, but they are far less than the long-range 
risks and costs of comfortable inaction.”
   - USA President John F. Kennedy

I hate what's going on in this country, and a dramatic example of the worst aspects of what I hate showed up in today's news digest. Last night, outspoken author, political activist and feminist Naomi Wolf was arrested and led away from a small protest on the sidewalk in front of the HuffingtonPost building in New York City, apparently for no good, legal reason. Watch the video of this disgraceful exchange. After you do, come back.

Wolf has been vocal in her support of the OccupyWallStreet movement (now evolving into OccupyAmerica), and she has repeatedly cautioned protesters to remain calm, to remain peaceful, and to remain commited to their cause, which she and millions of others in their heart of hearts know to be a just one. In the video, it's pretty clear that Wolf is respectful, is peaceful, never raises her voice, and is doing nothing more than standing in a place a white-shirted police officer doesn't want her to be. The whole exchange takes less than two minutes, and in the end, she's led away by a blue-shirted law enforcement officer. Wolf was taken to the 7th precinct lockup, and released not long after being arrested, with the "disorderly conduct" charges being amended to "resisting a lawful order." The order was not lawful, as in the USA I know, citizens may stand on a public sidewalk, and protesters have a right to peacefully assemble to express their grievances.

Since this event, however, I've started wondering about the "white shirts." Who are they? Some news sources report that they're police supervisors, and that the color of the uniform shirt indicates their senior authority and superior judgment. Last week, we saw Officer Anthony Bologna move through a crowd of OWS protesters to pepper spray the eyes of young women who had been "kettled" by police on the sidewalk, and then vanish back into the crowd as the women dropped to their knees, blinded and screaming. This constitutes senior authority and superior judgment?

On Wednesday, Wolf spoke with the Guardian about, among other things, the "white shirts."
"Then, a huge group of men in white shirts, who seem to be affiliated to the New York police department, but who are not self-evidently so – bigger and fitter than the rank-and-file blue-shirted officers – came in droves. About 30 or 40 of these men appeared.
"They got a megaphone – which the protesters are told is illegal – and they started shouting that we were illegally disrupting an event and we should disperse." 
Wolf said she "calmly" disputed the order with one of the officers in white shirts, who are more senior than those in blue shirts. "By this time I was surrounded by them. One of them asked me if I was going to get out of his way. I didn't think consciously that I couldn't step away, but I froze. My conscience froze me."
Wolf has warned the protesters of OWS to be on the lookout for agents provocateur--people who infiltrate groups for the purpose of stirring up trouble. Is it possible that because the hoped-for violence hasn't erupted, the "white shirts" have taken on that role, spoiling for the spark to what will result in pain, bloodshed, and excessive use of force?

If you are part of the Occupy protests, my advice is to instead of waiting until you see the whites of their eyes, pay attention to the color of the shirt. Brown or white, the message and intent of those shirts bodes ill for your liberties and freedom.

I usually end my posts with a snarky "Excuse me, but..." statement that sums everything up. I don't feel so snarky today. I'm distressed by what is going on, and I'm feeling the need to head into Boston.

Or maybe Concord or Lexington, where patriots of the past knew when and how to fight for freedom.
How about you?


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