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  1.  (10239.1)
    For those who want to see unmediated footage of NY's Occupy Wall Street protest, go here.
    • CommentTimeSep 27th 2011
    Man, I am so cynical towards protest culture in North America...
    • CommentAuthorroadscum
    • CommentTimeSep 27th 2011
    I for one am scared shitless about this whole western economic collapse business. Trouble is, apart from that i see little practical that i can do apart from stocking up on tinned food and cigarettes (useful as barter goods).
    • CommentTimeSep 27th 2011 edited
    There are some real problems with protests in the US. They almost never work anymore.

    It is institutionally well known how to weather them. Just let people protest, control the movement of people through the area with permits and police. If anyone tries to move outside then sanctioned zone, arrest them, and occasionally use excessive but not lethal force in doing that. You can always paint that later as: "the protest was peaceful until some bad elements caused trouble" and no one will seriously challenge that.

    Eventually the protest will peter out because:

    1) only kids, people on welfare or the unemployed can afford to stay in the streets, and that ultimately doesn't amount to a lot of people. Also, the rest of the country doesn't believe anyone in these groups has any idea what they really want.

    2) all protests in the US become magnets for every random grievance or bizarre political idea in the world. There is never a clear message, never a definite goal, never any message discipline, no coherence at all.

    Institutions just have to wait this out for a few days. It always blows over. Nothing comes of it.

    The people who participate think they are doing something, but really they are just doing the lazy thing. It's easy to run out into the street for a few days. It's hard to get a law degree, or launch a political career, or found and run a business, and use your position afterward as a broker of strength in your community for the betterment of people's lives.

    Only something like the latter option actually stands a chance of making any kind of difference.

    Protests in the US are just poorly rehearsed, badly written theater.
  2.  (10239.5)
    I was down by Wall Street a few days ago, and caught some minor protesting going on. It was ridiculous and embarrassing. A large woman wandering about in a hippy skirt and totally topless, yelling at people "STAY TOGETHER! NOBODY ALONE! NO ONE ALONE!!!" and stomping about, while people just banged on bongos.

    In my mind, a true protest should be done in the manner of the early Civil Rights protests: wear your Sunday best, and act with poise and courtesy. American protesters are most often not the people who are being most effected. It's the equivalent of Green Peace ramming whaling boats instead of actually working at passing laws and altering the approach of governments to come to a long term agreement that will actually effect change. (in other words: what oddbill said)
    • CommentTimeSep 27th 2011 edited
    And that's it. I just roll my eyes when I see another protest with vague and scattered goals and no clear resolution to the problem they're even protesting. It's why the G20 here in Toronto bugged me. It's why a lot of protests bug me. They somehow assume that if they gather outside and chant a couple of words that the people inside (who apparently have power) will suddenly realize that "my god..poverty IS wrong! Let's get to work, folks. We have a world to save!".

    Last week here in Toronto there was an Executive Committee meeting over the proposed cuts to services that the city funds (libraries, theatres, parks, services for elderly etc.). Over 366 people, from teenagers who go to the library to the guy that cuts the grass in parks showed up and each one got to talk directly to the mayor of the city and city councillors who are undecided on where to vote in regards to the cuts. THAT, to me, made a difference. Each person got a say and the people in charge LISTENED.

    But protests like this on Wall I really don't see it doing anything other than annoying people who want to get to work and make a few kids feel important for a while.
  3.  (10239.7)
    On the other hand.

    The rich in this country are the guy in the first few seconds of this video:

    He prefers to be captain of his ship

    And America is their mail order bride, and they're just a bit less satisfied when she acts out, I think. And when the jobless numbers come out month after month and the streets are empty and the audience on TV is booing their own children for being gay soldiers, I think the captain really must have the sweetest, pleasedest chuckle.
    • CommentTimeSep 27th 2011
    I have to agree with what's been said. If one is going to protest something, the goal should be clear. This sort of thing doesn't make a difference.

    Since the title of the thread includes "and elsewhere" I'll mention a sort of protest that happened recently just down the street from where I live, where a ton of people ran around in their underwear to protest Utah's "uptight" laws. I don't really think it helped anything by any means. But I guess it gave people an excuse to run around in their underpants. And in that way, it's better than the Wall Street protests.

    Seriously, though. I don't understand why people are raising money for this Occupy Wall Street thing. If someone could explain it to me so it makes sense, that would be welcome.
  4.  (10239.9)
    (Oh, I should mention that the protest that I witnessed, while on Wall Street, was about Troy Davis, not the financial melt down. Pointless and scattered and lame it was.)
    • CommentTimeSep 27th 2011
    Also the fact that participants and supporters keep referring to it as "the American Tahrir Square" just reeks of tone-deaf entitled appropriation. In Tahrir Square a massive cross-section of the whole civil society of Egypt demanded a dictator step down and stayed until that happened, in the face of possible massacre. In Wall Street, Anonymous calls out a band of kids to, what? Who knows. Demand that money stop influencing politicians, or something. Nothing specific. But srsly, it's totally just like the Arab Spring, but here in America, because we're also cool and can have cool things like that too.

    We've had a peppering (pun intended) of videos of police brutality. If the point of this protest were to peacefully goad abusive cops to demonstrate abuses on camera, after which there would be a sustained and focused effort to have each of those recorded abuses prosecuted, in an attempt to call attention to the degree to which police are not held accountable for excessive force and flagrant violations of law and public trust, it would be a very useful effort.

    It's one way I think some value could be wrung out of an otherwise sloppy exercise of public narcissism. But I don't think that's going to happen, because I don't think anyone involved has that much focus, or enough influence to inspire that kind of focus in the group. There are huge disadvantages to leaderless efforts.
      CommentAuthorJon Wake
    • CommentTimeSep 28th 2011
    I've always wondered why protest culture seems to view getting one's ass kicked by a cop as a sign of virtue.
  5.  (10239.12)
    @ Jon Wake--Probably because that's a physical sign that one is willing to put one's body on the line when it counts. The trouble is, there's a difference between getting one's ass kicked to achieve a greater goal and getting one's ass kicked just to score lefty karma points.

    @Oddbill--True. Your points coincide with these points raised by a Mother Jones blogger.
      CommentAuthorDoc Ocassi
    • CommentTimeSep 28th 2011
  6.  (10239.14)
    So apparently, last week, people showed up to protest at my job, at the Federal Detention Center in downtown Houston. The group was protesting immigration and deportation (and racial profiling?)

    Down with... stuff?

    Now, while we do have illegal immigrants incarcerated at FDC Houston, they are in for the myriad other crimes they committed whilst here illegally, not because of their immigration status.

    So my Captain went out to speak with them, and inform them that the agency that they would be more appropriate to protest would be ICE (Immigration Customs Enforcement), and where their nearest detention facility is located.

    Their response was pretty much something to the effect of "SO!! We can protest where ever we want, you... Stupid MAN, Stupid FED MAN!!"

    Within a couple of hours the protest consisted on one angry lady and her kid.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeSep 28th 2011

    Your summation of US protests reminds me of those online petitions people pass around. They give people a happy feeling that they've accomplished something without actually doing anything.
  7.  (10239.16)
    I've had my ass kicked by a bunch of cops before, but it was because I was acting like a jackass.

    Edited to add: I just watched the Lawrence O'Donnell piece on the cops in the protests, and I want to emphatically state that there is no excuse for police brutality. I wish I could be appalled by what I just watched but we've always known it was there. I get defensive any time people just bash police like we're all monsters like that.

    Every day, I am surprised by the amount of co-workers I have that are actually decent people who care about treating the criminals under our watch with actual dignity and respect.

    There are violent assholes out there and they are a minority. But it's like the old saying, that the greater evil are those of us that are aware of the evil that is being done and do nothing about it.
  8.  (10239.17)
    Glenn Greenwald offers this cogent defense of the Wall Street protests and criticizes their critics.
      CommentAuthorDoc Ocassi
    • CommentTimeSep 28th 2011
    @government spy,
    your addition to your last post is a very good point, because if the protest gets traction it could be given a large boost by winning over the very people you mention.

    As for every criticism of these protests, not having direction, yadda yadda. Has it escaped everyones attention that the protest is called "Occupy Wall Street"? and they may be protesting the fact that there has been large-scale fraud committed for which no-one had been convicted of anything, possibly? Or how about the widening gap between the rich and the poor, nationally and worldwide, or the plethora of other social ills connected with large financial institutions.

    I don't think it takes a genius to figure out what they are protesting.
    • CommentTimeSep 28th 2011
    A question that will hopefully lead to some useful discussion: what does it even mean to protest those things? What sort of action might actually effect a reduction of the gap in wealth?
  9.  (10239.20)
    2) all protests in the US become magnets for every random grievance or bizarre political idea in the world. There is never a clear message, never a definite goal, never any message discipline, no coherence at all.

    When illegal immigrants were protesting a few years ago I was really impressed by how they held their protests together. They managed to get hundreds of thousands of people to show up and stick to the issue. I did not see a single person protesting to free Mumia, abolish Israel, legalize pot, or replace the US Government with a Maoist dictatorship. The protestors actually protested; nobody was getting high or playing hackey-sack. And the stage was mostly serious speakers; it never turned into a free indie rock festival. Everything was well planned and legal, and when the permit ended everybody went home without pulling stupid stunts to intentionally get arrested.

    I don’t really understand why these differences exist between protests consisting mostly of barely-literate domestic laborers and protests put together by well educated children of the (relatively) well-off. But if the American left is ever going to be relevant again, they need to learn from their nannies and housekeepers. Occupy Wall Street seemed to start as a step in the right direction—show up on Wall Street, protest, repeat. But after five days they suddenly switched to deliberately fucking up traffic and antagonizing cops and generally wrecking Saturday afternoon in my neighborhood, which is nowhere near Wall Street.

    If they had just ignored the random cranks who suddenly decided to march in traffic with no plan or permit they could still be out there. They crowds might even be growing. It’s a shame that they were too stupid to do so.

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