Monday, January 2, 2012

Non-Violence Is The Key To Success For Occupy Wall Street



           CNN is reporting that an NYPD officer was stabbed on New Years Eve night by an OWS protester as the officer attempted to arrest the protester.  The incident reportedly followed the re-occupying of Zuccotti Park and the march that followed.  Let me state as strongly as I can that I condemn the actions of this protester, both as a police officer and as a citizen who wants so strongly for this movement to succeed.  Time and time again, I have urged everyone who will listen, that the road to success for this movement is non-violent civil disobedience.  Violence will only serve to nullify the hard work that so many within the occupy movement have done over the past several months.

             In the words of one of the greatest and most successful non-violent protest leaders, Mohandas Gandhi, "first they ignore you, then they fight you, then you win."  While I was proud to see protesters re-occupy Zuccotti Park, the images of protesters using inflammatory and degrading speech towards the officers who came to arrest them were utterly tasteless.  Let the authorities be the ones to provoke and use violence, the movement will get a lot further along that way.  Remember the slogan chanted at raids on occupy locations around the country, "the whole world is watching."  The whole world is indeed watching and that is why people within the occupy movement do not need to appear belligerent and certainly not violent when confronted by the powers that be.

             It is important to remember that the police officers too are the 99%, even if some don’t realize it yet.  It is up to each of us to reach out to them and show them the truth.  We are just as capable of free thought as the next guy and can understand a logical argument when one is presented to us.  Common sense, however, dictates that when these officers are confronted by violent behavior such as stabbings and personally offensive language on the part of protesters, they like anyone, will be turned off by the overall message and are far more willing to do the dirty work of those in power.  For these same reasons, I understand it is hard for some protesters to have force used upon them without returning force but it is still vitally important to the survival of the overall movement to remain non-violent.

           If one needs proof that the police officers are capable to hearing and agreeing with the occupy movement, look no further than Captain Ray Lewis (Ret.) of the Philadelphia Police Department or myself.  Remember above all that non-violence worked under the leadership of Gandhi and it worked under the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr.  For crying out loud, what makes anyone think it can’t work now?  If you are involved in the occupy movement, I beg of you, for the success of the movement, to urge everyone you know within the movement to remember that the whole world is watching and to remain non-violent and non-confrontational.  Civil disobedience works!  Just ask any veteran of the Civil Rights movement.

2 comments:

  1. This is, in many ways, only tangential to your post, but given the technological advances in crowd control, I worry about the future efficacy of nonviolent protests.

    One of the most galvanizing aspects of nonviolent protests is the asymmetric response by the state. Think of the Kent State shootings, the bludgeoning of Gandhi's marchers in the Salt March, the tear gas and batons used against the marchers from Selma to Montgomery, or the police dogs used against Martin Luther King Jr and demonstrators at Birmingham. These iconic images and the public outcry and support they elicited are a lot of what makes nonviolent protests effective.

    Now imagine what would have happened had the authorities used the new acoustical crowd control devices. The crowd would have just gotten uncomfortable and walked away. Had the Chinese had this technology that lone, reckless man who stood in front of the line of tanks advancing on Tienanmen Square would have cleared the way long before they arrived.

    Modern crowd control tactics are more humane, but they are like a velvet liner on a mailed fist. You will comply. You will not become a viral video on YouTube. Your photo will not make the front pages. No one will laud your sacrifice. You will comply.

    I don't condone violence on either side, but I wonder about the future of protests.

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  2. Maybe they'll create a gas that just makes you poop your pants... the whole crowd just looks embarassed and walks away, in a strange sort of clenched cheek way. I hope not because our right to protest is important. I would really like to live to see a day when no protests are required, because all people are ethical.

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