OK, this story about anarchists out in Oakland hit a nerve with me.. Let me first preface this by saying I do support Occupy Wall Street wholeheartedly and plan as soon as possible to visit Zucotti Park myself.
Most of the protesters have been peaceful and have only good intentions. There was something of a dust up this week about a sexual assault that happened here in NY. This episode happened on Tuesday where a Brooklyn man was taken into custody on Tuesday, after being charged with sexual assault. There was also a case on Thursday where someone punched a protester in the eye and was arrested for assault.
Bloomberg has criticized protesters for not reporting crimes to police:
"Instead of calling police, they form a circle around the perpetrator and chastise him or her or chase him or her out into the rest of the city do do who knows what to who knows whom... I think it is outrageous. It allows the criminal to strike again, making us all less safe."
Annup Yogi Desai, a member of the public relations working group at Zucotti park-they have their own public relations... Good idea certainly-responded:
"We're not trying to protect anyone who commits a crime. We rally around the person and say you can't do that."
"This is another example of Bloomberg trying to sway popular opinion against us."
Even in Desai's own words, it does seem Bloomberg is accurate in claiming they may chastise or chase them but do not report it to the police. In some cases that might be fine though I don't know that it is appropriate in the case of sexual assault. Social protests, civil disobedience, doesn't mean of course that someone protesting can commit crimes. Civil disobedience against unjust laws doesn't mean you also eschew legal action against real crimes.
For full story please see today's (Nov. 4, 2011) WSJ pg A23
Nevertheless, these cases are isolated and anyone who does try to smear OWS based on this is being disingenuous.
Having said that, there was something I heard while reading about the incidents this week in Oakland that kind of hit that nerve. What it relates to is not the OWS protesters, but a small group of anarchists whose modus operandi going back to the anti trade protests of the late 90s who often disrupt and try to co-opt other protests as they are not opposed to violence as such or at least not opposed to property destruction.
To be sure this is controversial even among anarchists and when some started busting the windows of banks on Wednesday, other anarchists spoke out against them. Many argue that anarchy is about peace and love.
The story though that got me going was this quote on pg. A4 of today's WSJ by Twatrick McGinty who says he is a peace-loving anarchist from Britain. His signature act is burning cash publicly. He came to Oakland as he says it gives him an "opportunity to encourage passerby to burn money in the hopes of "liberating" themselves."
Twatrick-great name I admit-you are losing me here. If money means nothing to you, give it to me, because I do need it. I'm serious why not give money to the unemployed-of which I am one?
I've had this debate before. A progressive friend of mine was talking about this plan that a bunch of people had decided on where they would not go to work one day as this somehow is meant to hurt the boss. If you are willing to eschew a day's pay, why not give it to me? I'm serious. I just don't get these symbolic gestures and the fact is they are only possible for those whose financial needs are taken care of in any case. Where does Twatrick get all this money to burn? How does he finance is own living? You know he's not a homeless person. I find that irritating that people think their mawkish acts help anyone. Why is it that you will deliberately not work and not be paid but you would never consider just giving it to me or any other unemployed person who could use it? Really don't get this sense of economy.