Archive for October 15th, 2011

by lizard

One of the concerns I’ve had since OWS first kicked off was whether or not those involved on the ground were going to be able to keep it non-violent. So far, the only significant violence has come from the police state response, which is sadly expected these days. Unprovoked macing of unarmed women encircled by plastic police netting? Par for the course. But the protests, despite these provocations from police, have largely remained peaceful, thanks in part to the structure of the General Assemblies.

During the last 24 hours, though, in Italy, violence has broken out, and it appears the protest was infiltrated by the black bloc contingent:

Witnesses said hooded militants infiltrated what had been a peaceful demonstration.

The violence started when a group of about 30 or 40 men torched SUVs along the route of the march, smashed the windows of a branch of Cassa di Ripsarmio di Rimini bank, attacked a supermarket and torched Italian and European Union flags flying outside a hotel.

The rioters appeared to belong to a violent movement called the black bloc – fringe groups of far-left and anarchists militants – who caused mayhem in central Rome last December when they infiltrated a peaceful protest by students against government cuts in education.

Nothing will derail America’s version of what is a global struggle faster than elements within these protests turning to violence. Whether it’s actual protestors, infiltrators, or provocateurs, it doesn’t matter. Once those images of violence get snatched up by the corporate media and amplified by the 24 hour news cycle, those who sympathize but are not participating will never lend their support, and the movement will fizzle.

Over at Electric City Blog, Gregg has put up with my off-putting commentary, and responded in part with this:

“Protesting with a list of demands while “occupying” parks isn’t going to change the world either. Do they give up? Or take the route of violence?”

My concern is not that the protestors are going to consciously take the route of violence because I think there are enough people who understand the damage that will do. That doesn’t mean there won’t be efforts to discredit OWS through violent means, and if that happens, there are too many people (the haters, the critics, the mockers, and other tools of the system) who want a reason to write-off these occupations because it challenges an unjust economic system that they may be currently benefiting from.

For example, this comment comes from one of those folks:

“As I’ve said before, I hope they keep it up and get more aggressive. Us real people far outnumber them and are getting very angry at watching the loser circuses of people whining about their situations. There will be a huge backlash.”

Yes, please get more aggressive, protestors, because “real people” are getting angry at how you fakers are bringing attention to the inequity of our economic system, and there will be a “huge backlash”.

After a month of peaceful occupations spreading to over 900 cities and towns, efforts to discredit this movement will probably escalate. That means those on the ground must be very cautious (including occupy Missoula) because there may already be elements within who will try and push for more confrontational actions to spark violence, and it will only take a few high profile incidents to seriously damage the credibility this movement has built up in a relatively short amount of time.

(This is but the opinion of one Occupier in Solidarity, and not the consensus of OccupyMissoula) 

Many people do not understand what the Occupy movement is all about, and preconceptions and prejudices abound. I have spent most of the last two weeks working to understand this movement and help organize OccupyMissoula. I’m not sure why I stuck my neck out, and devoted all my time, but it has changed the way I look at politics, movements, and my community.

In the words of an elderly gentleman I have known and respected for the 25 years I have lived in Missoula, “this is the most important movement I have seen since the the Great Depression.”

Similarly, last night I had the honor to meet 4 young high school students who had decided to put on suits and come down to the County Court House and OccupyMissoula to “check things out.” We had a great conversation and I felt inspired that our youth feel the same concerns that our more experienced community members do, and felt compelled to participate, and to write about their experience (one of them was a writer for their high school’s newspaper).

It took an article in no less than Fox News, tweeted across the internet in a “Holy Shit” moment to put it all into perspective for me: “The key isn’t what protesters are for but rather what they’re against.” Continue Reading »

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