Occupy Christmas

International Day of Action – December 25

Rape, vandalism, violence.. what should police do?

Posted by troublemaker on November 9, 2011

“We, too, are the 99% fighting for better working conditions, fair treatment and the ability to provide a living for our children and families. ” – Oakland Police Officers Association (3)

Make no mistake, the 99% movement is a world wide phenomena.  As a result, the same question is being raised by law enforcement around the world.  What should the police do? 

“Paralysis is occurring across law enforcement. It’s becoming a Catch 22.  To go in there to clear the park is going to cause confrontation. To not do so is detrimental.” –  said Sgt. Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association of New York City, USA (1)

Virtually the same question is being asked in New Zealand.  There, in Dunedin, the police have refused to enforce a trespass notice issued on October 15, 2011.  Why?  Because the police are concerned that it might violate the nation’s Bill of Rights Act.

“The protesters have the right under the Bill of Rights Act to protest peacefully.” – Inspector Dickie (2)

What then should law enforcement do in the United States?  What should they do in New Zealand?  As the 99% and Occupy Wall street movements grow, what should police do elsewhere?  The answer is simple: They should protect the lawful from the lawless.

Violence, vandalism, and other crimes do take place within Occupy encampments.  Violence, vandalism, and other crimes also take place on subways.  Violence, vandalism, and other crimes take place where ever people gather.  As the presence of people is required for the presence of crime, one could clear out the people and in so doing clear out the crime; but at what cost?

Although commonly manipulated by the 1%, police are clearly part of the 99%.  As such, they should facilitate freedom of speech by protecting the overwhelming majority of lawful protest from the few who choose to be lawless.   In the United States, they take an oath to do just that when they swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America.  What then should they do when they are given clearly conflicting orders from that 1%?

Consider the challenges of the Oakland, California police department.  Although many feel they have clearly crossed the line with their use of tear gas, flash bangs, bean bag rounds, and other less than lethal force; the police claim they were ordered to do so by Mayor Jean Quan (3).  A day later, Mayor Jean Quan welcomed the protesters back and even gave city employees time off to join the protest. 

Protesters, recognizing police officers as members of the 99%,  have asked law enforcement to leave their guns at home and join the protest.  Some protesters believe the Occupy encampments are now capable of policing themselves (4).  We at Occupy Christmas think there is a much better solution.

Like authorities in Dunedin, New Zealand police should refuse to evict encampments.  But instead of leaving their guns at home, they should join and support the protest by enforcing laws in place to prevent violent crime and vandalism.

Many thanks to Inspector Dickie.  Occupy Christmas.  Occupy the world.

Foot Notes

1) Fox News

2) Otago Daily Times

3) An Open Letter to the Citizens of Oakland from the Oakland Police Officers Association

4) Hot Air


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