Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Best Way to Squander Power

"Cops Spray Passive Protestors"

It does look pretty bad.

You can say with near certainty that the officer holding the red can is in the 99%. But now he's been made their enemy. UC Davis Chancellor called his actions "chilling", his job is at risk. He's in the 99%, but the 99% aren't helping him, they're hurting him. they're making his future uncertain, maybe worse. How did he go from being your friend to being your enemy?

Why does the video look so shocking? Because the spraying doesn't look tactical -- it looks punative. If I had to guess what was going through the officer's mind, I wouldn't say he's trying to break the circle so his colleagues can get out (though that's probably part of it); somewhere in there he's enjoying the display of pain -- or rather, he's enjoying that he has the power to inflict pain. At least he has the power to do something.

You've been protesting because the voice of the 99% has been cut off. If I had to give a picture of someone reacting badly because their voice has been cut off, it would be a middle aged man pepper-spraying college kids, walking back, and spraying them again.

What we're starting to realize, though, is that the Occupy movement is powerful, because the ideas behind it are powerful. But using that power to stick it to a lowly police officer, someone who shouldn't even be your enemy... the easiest way to squander power is to waste it on easy victims.

Look at how calmly the officer settles into his role as enemy. He knows which side he's on before he even pulls out the can. How did he find out? Who told him he was an enemy? Was it something in the way they looked at him, a message passed by eye contact, telling him what part he'd play?

You've got to stop playing it that way.

1 comment:

  1. "...the Occupy movement is powerful, because the ideas behind it are powerful."

    I thought the defining characteristic of the occupy movement was its lack of a defining idea, request, or complaint.

    That said, sharp observation.