My thoughts on #OccupyLA’s eviction.
I watched it through Twitter and Ustream, switching around between five different video streams. Had a slow, sleepy day because of it, but I think it was worth the missed sleep. From what I could see both cops and demonstrators worked to keep it peaceful, but I really couldn’t see much.
I have to agree with Wil Wheaton that the press situation was pretty fucked up. I recall at one point hearing a cop say that only an LAPD press pass would get anyone closer to the park, the Sheriff’s Department pass wasn’t good enough. I didn’t realize press passes had a hierarchy. Here’s a Washington Post article about restricted media coverage, I’ve got a headache and don’t want to spend any more time on it.
One thing I think the LAPD did very right was to make a lot of noise about getting ready and give plenty of time for people to get out. By the time they started arresting people, the only ones left in the park were those who’d decided that getting arrested was a price they were willing to pay to make their point. Someone who’s dedicated to an act of civil disobedience knows they’re going to be arrested and isn’t likely to get violent or even struggle unless you, I dunno, spray a chemical weapon into their face or something. That seems like a good tactic, and according to cops that worked well, but again right now I only have their word for it.
What really struck me was the internet comments by detractors. They seem to all fall into just a few categories, and there’s something familiar about them but I can’t quite put my finger on it. If you recognize this, let me know. The average Occupy detractor will post one or more of the following:
- Trivializing or dehumanizing the demonstrators. Most of this is pretty mild: They’re dirty hippies, they’re unemployed bums, they’re losers, the camps must smell awful, they’re whiny privileged college kids, they’re criminal scum, etc. Your standard soundbites for “these people aren’t important and what they say doesn’t count” kinda stuff. By far the most common comments that I’ve seen.
- Violent fantasies. Some people are just desperate to see cops in full riot gear beat the shit out of people, I guess.
- Surreal authoritarianism. Well, it certainly seemed surreal to me, at least. The ones that really stuck out to me were both people asking about the leader of OWS, either who it was, or when OWS was going to show they were a serious movement by getting one.
- Predicting the imminent demise of OWS. I’m only counting those who give no more reason than simplistic bullshit. Usually combines with one of the others.
Writing’s even harder than usual with a headache.
Look, this is a big, complicated thing that I don’t really understand myself, but I think I can show you the heart of the matter with an excerpt from this XKCD visual representation of money. Adjusted for inflation so that it’s all 2011 dollars;
- In 1965 the average production worker made $19.61 per hour, while a CEO made $490.31.
- In 2007 the average production worker made $19.71 per hour, while a CEO made $5,419.97.
Does it really surprise anyone if the workers are feeling like they got ripped off here?