- CRITTER TALK
I disagree that it’s time to occupy somewhere else. Sadly, we have all witnessed damage to public property, but this is no reason to quell a long-brewing protest that is a long time coming. Seriously, in Manhattan’s concrete jungle, how much property damage can occur?
Those who cite property destruction as a factor end the Occupy protest, even if they concur with the goals, is a misunderstanding which troubles me greatly. I cannot name any other way by which the movement can make its point save by protesting in public space for which their taxes paid.
Zuccotti Park is private; however, the space is publicly subsidized: From The Huffington Post
…the clearing of Zuccotti Park is different… While most parks are public, this one is privately owned. Its owner is one of America’s largest commercial real estate firms. Brookfield Properties owns lots of property in lower Manhattan —and its status among corporate “citizens” is enviable.
When taxes subsidize public properties like parks, the burden is shared. So are the rewards. In some cases, though, taxes subsidize private properties. The burden is shared but the rewards are monopolized. Such is the case with Brookfield and its tenants. In recent years, they have taken more than $174.5 million in public subsidies, according to a think tank that analyzes economic development.
Crain’s NY Business reports:
Tenants in One Liberty Plaza, the Brookfield Office Properties tower across the street from Zuccotti Park have received a total of $20.1 million in government subsidies, primarily since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, according to a new report by Good Jobs New York. Meanwhile, as previously reported, Brookfield itself received about $460,000 in subsidies for the building since Sept. 11… A Brookfield spokesman declined comment.
The more those in “authority”—whether in the financial or public sector—try to quell the Occupy protests, will simply lead to more damage.
Destruction of property for which our tax dollars paid is regrettable, but I would rather have my hard-earned tax dollars go towards fixing property than destroying the property of other countries at the cost of billions of dollars. There is more than a little of this damage caused by the bogus war on drugs. (Please visit LEAP to learn more.)
The destruction of property is ancillary when compared to the larger problems Americans face. Clear goals are not readily defined in only three months. The American Revolution began in 1763—the Colonies did not achieve independence until 1776.
The Colonists did not act according to the laws under which they were governed. They, too, damaged property to make their point. Protestors’ actions at the Boston Tea Party were an unlawful destruction of property, but served as a call for freedom across the Colonies to establish a Democratic nation. And they got the people’s attention on both sides of the Atlantic.
Like our Founders, Americans suffer taxation without representation. The financial industry’s purchase of some government officials flies in the face of everything for which our Founders fought. How can financial parity occur if protestors are prevented from protesting on the very land for which they pay?
Mahatma Gandhi also led a peaceful Occupy revolution against taxation without representation. During his time, salt and opium were the primary sources of revenue in India—and let’s not forget opium, in the form of Laudanum was legal in the United States and Britain.
Salt imported from Liverpool was highly taxed and production of salt in India was made illegal by the British government, which was in bed with the British East India Company. If ever there were ever a clear example of government privatization, Occupy can certainly cite this period in India’s history. The comparisons of the British government’s complicity with the British East India Company in the 18th Century differs little from the avarice of the ultra-wealthy today.
One commenter here at MMA wrote, “How blocking traffic and making a mess of parks is helping is beyond me.” I would like to invite him to any major metropolitan area in the United States where major traffic jams are part of the landscape. The simple act of people going to and from work disrupts traffic.
India’s protest against the salt tax also included halting traffic and disrupting people’s daily business. Thousands of protestors were imprisoned and, in all fairness, were treated far worse at the hands of the police than the Occupy protestors.
I turn my attention to Woodstock which some believe was solely about sex and drugs. This event arose of a necessity to protest the Viet Nam War through music. Woodstock called national attention to the Cold War reactionaries. People who originally supported the U.S. occupation in Viet Nam began to take anti-war demonstrations to heart. This historic event helped bring the nation the country to the realization that we were engaged in a no-win conflict that drained America of billions of dollars that could have been better spent.
Further, Woodstock was held on private land—which is a Fourth Amendment right. Max B Yasgur granted permission for festival goers to use his land for the Woodstock Music and Art Fair between August 15 and August 18, 1969.
Although threatened by local residents, who wanted to charge concert goers for water, The New York Times reported that Yasgur slammed a work-hardened fist on the table and demanded of some friends, ‘How can anyone ask money for water?’ His son recalled he told us to take every empty milk bottle from the plant, fill them with water and give them to the kids, and give away all the milk and milk products we had at the dairy..
According to Sam Yasgur, his father agreed to rent the field to the festival organizers because it was a very wet year, which curtailed hay production. The income from the rental would offset the cost of purchasing thousands of bales of hay. However, Max Yasgur also believed strongly in freedom of expression, and was angered by the hostility of some townspeople toward “anti-war hippies.”
Viet Nam protests finally led to the government having no choice but to withdraw from a senseless war. That war also cost us one of the arguably greatest presidents in history, Lyndon Johnson, who was held immobile in his executive duties between mediating a compromise between Cold War Hawks and peaceful Viet Nam protestors.
And yet, one positive outcome of late 1960s protests is that police departments across the nation began to develop less harmful ways of crowd control. At that time, too, there were many officers who felt camaraderie with the anti-war protestors.
Peaceful participants during the peaceful Civil Rights movement, patterned after Gandhi’s protest, were beaten, killed, and jailed for demanding equal rights.
Should MLK, Jr. and Malcom X have settled for “separate but equal” facilities? Should Civil Rights protesters just gone home at wait for “sensible legislation” as was argued by Segregationists? Were Dr. King and his followers “loudmouths with too much time on their hands”? Or were they African-Americans who could not get jobs due to their ethnicity and whose children could not receive a decent education?
We should also consider another Occupy revolution that occurred during the early 20th Century when women protested to gain their right to vote. Should the Suffragettes have “gone home” to male-dominated, highly restricted worlds without protest? These women endured beatings, force feedings, and starvation. Many died in jail. They didn’t leave.
As of next year, women will have had the right to vote for 92 years. According to Constance Rover’s 1967 publication, Women’s Suffrage and Party Politics:
At first , there was at first no deliberate attempt to destroy property on a large scale.
Stone-throwing had two objectives: one was largely symbolic, the windows of government offices being broken as a protest. The other was to cut short the struggle with the police, which often resulted in considerable physical suffering before arrest, by committing an offence which could not be ignored. At the start of this activity, the stones were usually wrapped in paper, to avoid injuring anyone accidentally. Sometimes, in addition, they were attached to string, the end of which was held by the thrower. It is difficult to imagine anyone but a middle-class Englishwoman resorting to such a procedure! Eventually stone-throwing became one of several methods used for the deliberate destruction of property.
Anyone who believes Occupy protestors have too much time on their hands is under a misconception. I have spoken many Occupy participants who are there because they cannot get jobs no matter how hard they look.
Above 9% of America are unemployed; California is suffering under 12%+ unemployment. A full 20% of American children live in poverty. Unemployment figures do not include those who have dropped off the roles because their benefits ran out. Many more of these people than you realize are highly educated individuals—some of whom have MBAs—and cannot find a job. In March 2011, LexisNexis, quoting the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that jobs for lawyers are on the decline.
The protest to support the Equal Rights Amendment was conceived in 1923—it is still not a part of the Constitution. The proposed Amendment is, simply:
Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex; Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article; Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.
ERA was not passed. Apparently, demonstrators were just loud-mouthed housewives with too much time on their hands who wanted to overturn the natural order of male dominance.
I spoke 10 or more NYPD officers, none were willing to make any statement about Occupy protests. In contrast, when I spoke to LAPD officers, they told me they openly support the Occupy LA and that they are there to protect the protestors. As of now, the officers have gone in only to arrest people who have posed a credible threat to the demonstrators or to provide food or medical supplies to the protestors.
In Los Angeles, only 23 protestors have been arrested—that happened yesterday when the protestors moved into L.A.’s financial district.
However, after what some see as the brutality of the Brooklyn Bridge incident last month at the Occupy Wall Street protest, the AP reported that NYPD officers were dressed in wind breakers, rather than riot gear, arrested at least two dozen people who walked out onto the bridges’ roadway and otherwise let the marchers pass without incident.
The more limitations imposed on people’s freedom by government and private industry, the more damage and violence will occur. Occupy must continue and wealth must be better distributed among all Americans.
Property damage notwithstanding, Occupy must continue.
Is property damage a sufficient reason to crack down on Occupy protesters?Click here for reuse options!