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Jose Medina

Officer Jose Medina is an active member of the Piscataway (N.J.) Police Department's SWAT team and runs Awareness Protective Consultants (Team APC) tactical training.

Mob Rules: Was 2011 the Year of Lawlessness?

Cutbacks to police resources hampered agencies forced to respond to flash mobs and occupiers.

December 02, 2011  |  by Robert O'Brien - Also by this author

CC_Flickr: Brennan Cavanaugh

This year, the sour economy hit law enforcement full force, causing havoc to law enforcement budgets and resulting in unprecedented cutbacks in pay, benefits, pensions, equipment, and training. Hiring freezes, layoffs, and even the elimination of entire agencies are occurred at an alarming rate.

Two popular social movements in 2011—flash mobs and occupiers—placed a great strain on cities and their LE agencies. Flash mobs were initially seen as harmless entertainment, while occupy was seen as justified protest. 

It wasn't long before both movements were infiltrated and hijacked by troublemakers bent on violence. Street thugs turned many flash mobs into violent, rampaging, criminal mobs. Anarchists turning many occupy protests into violent confrontations and clashed with police.

This level of open lawlessness and violence is predictable, especially involving leaderless mobs. Police have a sworn duty to protect life and property, as well as maintain law and order.

When police are forced to deal with violent mobs, SWAT is certain to be an integral component of the police response. 

The estimated cost for policing occupiers across the U.S. has been estimated at $13 million, the Associated Press reported, to pay overtime costs for around-the-clock policing. In Oakland alone, the cost has already approached $2 million, which the severely cash-strapped city of Oakland can ill afford. Oakland Police resources are thread thin, following two occupier riots, a homicide, and the dismantling of the City Hall encampment at least three times.

The Oakland Police Department's force, which has fallen to less than 700 officers, is stretched almost to the breaking point. The department has been repeatedly forced to request mutual-aid support from outside agencies. This comes at a high price—at least one LE agency bills the agency for mutual aid requests. 

Occupiers have spread to University of California campuses in Berkeley, Davis, and Santa Cruz. Occupy protesters from Berkeley, Davis, Santa Cruz descended on a Bank of America branch in downtown San Francisco. They succeeded in shutting down the branch, as well as an entire high-rise office building.

After numerous requests to leave were refused, SFPD arrested 95 protesters. Rowdy occupy supporters threw bottles at police. Some protesters used megaphones to shout the spelling of officers' names, which they obtained from their name tags.

Occupy protests at the Berkeley and Davis campuses sparked violent police confrontations that resulted in controversy about the use of force by police.

At UC Berkeley, officers used batons during a volatile, physical confrontation between police and protesters.

At UC Davis, campus law enforcement faced criticism about the pepper spraying of protesters. The "pepper spray" video has gone viral. The university's chancellor publicly apologized and condemned the police for using pepper spray. The campus police chief, a lieutenant, and a third officer have been placed on paid suspension amid widespread calls for their firing.

If that wasn't enough, the hacker group Anonymous took up the cause, publishing the home address, e-mail, phone numbers of the lieutenant. This public exposure led to $200 of unordered pizzas being delivered to the lieutenant's home address. Only it was his former address.

America hasn't seen this level of mob lawlessness since the 1960s. Police are increasingly finding themselves stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place. Especially if they dare use any degree of force to uphold their sworn duty to maintain law and order.

Comments (6)

Displaying 1 - 6 of 6

Tom Ret @ 12/7/2011 8:09 AM

Unfortunately, this article is spot on and a sad commentary for our nation.

Rick @ 12/7/2011 9:15 AM

Unfortunately, this article misses the point with Occupy. The protests were well coordinated in advance (I leared about it 2 months in advance and warned my family.), were backed by socialist/communist organizations and are bent on changing America into a socialist/communist nation by destroying our current financial system.

David Christopher @ 12/15/2011 5:43 AM

It's a sad thing to hear this. It's been always like these in the streets, rallies and protest ending up in rumble and behind cold bars. Lawlessness, is almost among us. Trying to insist what we knew what's right. Can we just sit and have a talk? We are destroying each and everyone, instead of having our hands caring for others..

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Rick @ 12/29/2011 9:58 AM

More evidence has been found out about the Occupy movement; it is tied to people associated with the current President and it is funded/staffed by George Soros. This is an attempt to change from a capitalist system to a socialist/communist system.

Morning Eagle @ 12/29/2011 7:08 PM

Yes, 2011 was an increasingly "lawless" year. Regretfully it is only a harbinger of what is coming. There is a direct and obvious connection between the drastic across the board cuts to law enforcement agencies in manpower, equipment, training and the rise in criminal activities including the so-called occupy movement. Apparently that connection is far above the comprehension ability of the politicians, bean counters and bleeding hearts in all levels of government and the general media all across the nation. And yes, it is clear to anyone willing to acknowledge it that this whole OWS 'movement' was hijacked before it really got started by anarchists and communists that see it as an exploitable part of the undermining of America's infrastructure. There is an acknowledged right to protest and peacefully assemble in this country but that does not include any “right” to disrupt the normal proceedings of citizens trying to go about their lawful daily activities and businesses. Those who instigate, agitate and support those disruptions are criminals and must be identified and removed from the scene as quickly as possible using whatever force is necessary. If that means hurting the feelings of some sensitive little college students or other hangers-on and malcontents then so be it. They need to understand that just because they throw temper tantrums does not mean their unreasonable demands are going to be satisfied. They need to understand they have no right to demand the produce of others that they are not willing to work to earn themselves. Those who encourage and support these types of demands are just as guilty of offense as those causing the violence on the street. I include the current occupier of the White House, and other politicians that have jumped on the bandwagon along with those providing under the table funding and biased media coverage to the protestors when I say that.

Jim @ 12/30/2011 8:19 AM

The moment man was created, a decline was imminent. We are in social decline. It is only the rate of that decline that is in question. Everyone expects the government to take care of them - and they are unwilling to take responsibility for themselves. The originally peaceful"Occupy Movement" has lost control of themselves. They said they were the 99%, but they have become the 1% - a lawless, mindless, and irresponsible mob that damages property, drains police, fire, and emergency services, and interrupts businesses and schools. It is embarassing.

Welcome to the toilet bowl.

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