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Cover Story

Tales of the Occupation

In the last six months, police nationwide have had to refine their crowd control tactics to counter a new method of protest.

February 17, 2012  |  by - Also by this author

Photo: Mark W. Clark
Photo: Mark W. Clark

The Occupy Movement protests—the 99% vs. the 1% in Occupy terms—commenced last September in the Wall Street financial district and soon spread across the nation. Targeting Wall Street, banks, CEOs, and the federal reserve system, its signature tactic has been a willingness to forego "nine-to-five" picketing in favor of setting up camps on public land. And that has presented two major problems for law enforcement: crime within the camps and civil disobedience once the protesters are legally ordered to disperse.

Protestors have been victims of sexual assaults and batteries, often by fellow protestors. Within the shadows of one camp a man was murdered; others have been found dead in their tents, one as a result of carbon-monoxide poisoning. In Houston, a police officer shot and wounded a gunman who threatened Occupy Houston protesters.

Occupiers have also been hurting the very working people whose causes they are ostensibly trumpeting. Pedestrians on their way to work have been swept up in protesting crowds and arrested. Protests at ports have negatively impacted other innocent citizens, causing dock workers and truckers to miss work and pay. Refuse left in the wake of occupy camps, including trash and human waste, put constraints on public works and discouraged families from frequenting favorite parks and restaurants.

And once cities and citizens have had enough of the Occupy Movement, they have demanded that their local governments clear the camps. So there have been numerous clashes between Occupy protesters and law enforcement.

A Tale of Two Dozen Cities

Rich Roberts, public information officer for the International Union for Police Associations (IUPA), contends that there should be no basis for conflicts between police and the Occupy Movement. "Where demonstrations are orderly, police don't have to interfere," Roberts notes. "It's only when protestors become disorderly and disrupt the lives of other citizens that the police have a sworn duty to respond according to the general orders of their department."

Unfortunately, not all forms of protest have been in compliance with the law. The manner of dissent being exercised deviates substantially from the kinds of civil protest and acts of civil disobedience advocated by the likes of Gandhi, Thoreau, or Martin Luther King. The ensuing skirmishes between cops and protestors have resulted in injuries to each, as well as third parties, and mutual finger-pointing in their aftermath does little to enhance either's standing in the PR war.

What many cops say has complicated law enforcement's ability to keep the peace is the positions of their local governments, which seem to change with the political wind. Mayoral vacillations have seen protestors granted permission to set up camps, only to find it rescinded, then reinstated still later.

"You have these gutless, pandering politicians and gutless police administrators who are, in effect, politicians," asserts retired California Highway Patrol officer Dave Hollenbeck. "Rule number one for them is, 'Never offend anyone who can have an effect on your career.' To them, the next promotion is more important than any subordinate's or citizen's safety."

The Oakland Experience

Whatever the impetus for their actions or inactions, SWAT consultant and retired Cleveland SWAT sergeant Bob O'Brien says evidence of municipal meddling is never in short supply.

"Look at Oakland," O'Brien says. "They were extremely successful in dismantling the camp the first night. But the very next day the mayor allowed the protesters back in, and that same night all hell broke loose."

Comments (7)

Displaying 1 - 7 of 7

TimFromLA @ 2/21/2012 12:18 AM

Really, we are the problem. Since when was the last time you spoke to your union and asked how many of your brothers and sisters lost their homes because of mortgage fraud? According to the different LEO unions, quite a few. Yet how many detectives who homes were stolen by the banks were ordered to not investigate and arrest the managers for committing felonies? There are a lot out there and since I am not an LEO, I can speak truth to power. I am not bound by some greedy City/County politician or their pogues to remain silent. And that's what the Occupy movement is doing. So by arresting the men and women who are in fact trying to find justice for the crimes the banksters committed, and your bosses tell you to not make the felony arrest, you arrest people committing misdemeanors whose intention is to protect our country?

LEOs out there, grow a pair. Be that man or woman you claim to be and stand up to your pogues and the politicians who have you by your proverbial private parts. Stop complaining about us and do your job and make that arrest. Scared of losing your job? Too bad. You swore to protect and defend the Constitution AND did you know that you are protected under federal law?

18 USC § 4 - Misprision of felony

Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

Now make the arrests...unless you're too scared. And if you are, leave us alone to educate the people.

[email protected] @ 2/21/2012 9:09 AM

timfromla, It is painfully clear that you are not LEO. It's not the Detectives or Uniforms or even the upper Dept. brass that decides who gets prosecuted. Its the DA. Which, if I'm not mistaken, is a political postion. Ask any cop how frustrating it is to work a case and then be told "No way" by a political appointee. Don't want to waste the taxpayers money, too much opposition to bring the case to trail, etc. It all feeds back to lawyers who are afraid to offend someone in power. Go ahead, pursue that case after you've been told to drop it and see how it feels to patrol the local garbage dump. Can we assume the "occupiers" are wealthy enough to not go to work? Unemployed? Being funded by some one else? Got too much time on their hands?

Rick @ 2/21/2012 9:28 AM

Soros has been proven to behind the occupy movement, both in money and in organization. He said earlier this year that the Occupy movement is going to become violent this year. LEO's need to take his warning seriously and be prepared.

TimFromLA @ 2/21/2012 8:38 PM

[email protected] And because of that the cops are merely lackeys for the corporation? Why have a law enforcement agency of, by and for the people? Give me a good reason why Halliburton and XE should NOT take your careers and patrol the streets of our city where more than 300 million pay in taxes: sales, property, and so on to fund a publicly run organization like law enforcement when we could get the same results from a private corporation who answers to a CEO or a board of directors?

Alex, I am NOT an LEO. But my taxes pay for the local P.D. and the Occupiers who are unemployed still need to pay rent or sales tax which goes to pay for LEOs and now you're telling me and possibly millions of readers on this site that your oath to protect and defend the Constitution is a farce because of politics?

Then every LEO who has this attitude should resign. Seriously. What then is the difference between a private security firm who would go after the Occupiers and not the 1% and the LEO doing the will of the management who is doing the will of the government who is doing the will of the corporations? Less clutter in between the enforcer and corporations.

Mad at me? Good, do something

TimFromLA @ 2/21/2012 8:39 PM

@Rick, then tax Soros at the level when Republican Gerald Ford was president 74%

John Russell @ 2/25/2012 6:23 PM

Remember the one doctrine that was created to serve all citizens when pilgrims first came to this country; THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES that guaranteed right to assembly--- peaceful asembly.... and seems that is now under scrutiny?

[email protected] @ 2/28/2012 1:43 PM

timfromla, Did I say give up? Don't bother? Ignore it? No. Enforce the law. The JOB. Perhaps the "lawyer" slam it a little too close to home? I'm sure the local dept. you "pay" for are aware of your kindness. Hey, why not get the military to do this? After all, we "pay" thier salaries, right........

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