- On November 14, the Northern California ACLU and National
Lawyers Guild (NLG) sued the Oakland Police Department (OPD) in federal
court for "egregious constitutional violations" against Occupy
- A temporary restraining order was sought to stop them.
On November 14, hundreds of riot gear clad police forcefully evicted encamped
Oscar Grant Plaza protesters at 5:00AM. At a same day press conference,
Mayor Jean Quan said:
- "We have to bring the camp to an end."
- The ACLU-NC and NLG sued OPD on behalf of videographer
Timothy Scott Campbell. Other plaintiffs include Kerie Campbell, Marc McKinnie,
Michael Siegel, and NLG Legal Observer Marcus Kryshka.
- On November 2, all faced excessive force. Campbell said:
- "I was filming police activity at Occupy Oakland
because police should be accountable. Now I'm worried about my safety from
police violence and about retaliation because I've been outspoken."
- According to NLG attorney Rachel Lederman:
- "OPD's unconstitutional actions against protesters
were wholesale and flagrant violations of Oakland's Crowd Control Policy."
- It strictly limits force and prohibits indiscriminate
use of shot-filled beanbags and other projectiles against peaceful protesters
- In fact, authorities nationally want OWS demonstrations
ended. On November 15, Occupy Wall Street.org countered, saying:
- "You cannot evict an idea whose time has come. We
are the 99%. We are everywhere. We are a global movement that is reclaiming
our humanity and our future."
- America's First Amendment affirms everyone's free expression
and assembly rights. Fourth Amendment freedom prohibits unnecessary excessive
- No matter. On November 14, billionaire Mayor Michael
Bloomberg used goon squad cops to evict protesters. Hundreds earlier were
beaten, pepper-sprayed, maced, tear gassed and arrested.
- Days earlier, police attacked nearby Berkeley, CA Occupy
Cal protesters. Students and youths were beaten, one seriously. About 40
were arrested. Similar crackdowns are happening nationally. Thousands have
- On October 26, Oakland, CA police attacked nonviolent
protesters with tear gas, flash grenades, beanbag shotguns, and rubber
bullets. Officers also threatened use of unspecified "chemical agents."
- Veterans Against War member Scott Olsen sustained a serious
skull fracture when struck on the head by a tear gas canister. Children,
elderly and disabled bystanders were affected. Police helicopters patrolled
- America's violence roots are deep. Wars are glorified
in the name of peace. Pacifism is considered sissy and unpatriotic. Among
Western nations, its homicide rate is highest. Gun owning is considered
an inalienable right.
- Violent films, video games and sports are some of its
most popular. With good reason, its society is called a "rape culture."
Constitutionally guaranteed human rights, civil liberties, common dignity
and personal safety are more illusion than fact.
- "Indispensable state" credentials, exceptionalism,
and moral superiority are manipulated false notions to force our ways on
- Kids are weaned on violence. Television and films feature
it. Before age 18, the average child watches 200,000 violent acts, including
16,000 murders. Moreover, studies show homicide rates doubled 10 - 15 years
after television was introduced. What better way to teach how to kill,
beat, brawl and abuse.
- Some kids grow up to be cops. From pre-adolescence they've
been conditioned to accept violence as normal. They're used to it when
asked to quash dissent.
- Americans' Free Expression Right to Dissent
- The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) advances and
protects constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. It creatively uses law "as
a positive force for social change."
- In October 2011, it issued a report titled, "Restore.
Protect. Expand: The Right to Dissent," saying:
- US history is littered with repressive laws "at
the expense of constitutional protections and civil liberties." The
1798 Alien and Sedition Acts restricted First Amendment freedoms.
- So did 1919 anti-communist Palmer raids, the 1934 Special
Committee on Un-American Activities, its House Un-American Activities Committee
(HUAC) successor, secret FBI COINTELPRO crackdowns, the 1996 Anti-Terrorism
and Effective Death Penalty Act, the 2001 USA Patriot Act, and other post-9/11
- These and other police state measures expanded government
surveillance, eroded habeas rights, formalized military tribunals, permitted
torture-extracted confessions, and sanctified violence in the name of national
- As a result, nonviolent civil disobedience can be called
terrorism. Patriot Act provisions criminalized dissent. Innocent people
have been arrested, indicted and imprisoned for pursuing their constitutionally
- Using so-called "terrorist profiles," the FBI
can investigate anyone for any reason. So can local police working cooperatively
with them or alone.
- Abrogating constitutional rights entirely may come next.
Occupying America against financial terrorism and corporate greed can be
criminalized. America's right to dissent is endangered.
- Attacks on Nonviolent Protests
- In 1999, attacking Seattle global justice protesters
was a harbinger of things to come. Tens of thousands rallied for environmental,
worker and other rights. Police did what they do best.
- Tear gas and pepper spray saturated city streets. Hundreds
of riot gear clad cops fired bean bag bullets, rubber bullets and paint
balls at peaceful demonstrators. Others were beaten with batons and pepper
sprayed. Hundreds were arrested. A state of emergency and curfew were imposed.
Parts of Seattle looked like war zones.
- In 2003, similar violence targeted Miami nonviolent protests
against the Free Trade Act of the Americas (FTAA). Thousands of militarized
police filled city streets. More than 40 law enforcement agencies were
- Streets were cleared lawlessly. Hundreds were arrested,
including journalists and legal observers. Red squad police surveillance
and infiltration were used. Congress provided funding.
- CCR and others filed lawsuits. In Killmon v. City of
Miami-Dade, et al a major settlement was reached. Nonetheless, the "Miami
Model" and its Seattle predecessor became prototypes for future crackdowns
like those ongoing now.
- In today's America, anything can be criminalized, including
protests for environmental and animal rights. CCR called the 2006 Animal
Enterprise Terrorism Act (ACTA) "unconstitutionally vague and overbroad
in violation of the First and Fifth Amendments." It criminalized legal
politically motivated actions.
- "Green Scare" entered the vocabulary earlier.
First used in 2002, it referred to legal and extralegal government actions
against animal liberation and environmental activists.
- The ghost of COINTELPRO returned, including intensive
surveillance of political activists, false arrests, and police brutality.
What the 1974 Senate Church Committee condemned, Patriot Act and other
legislative measures restored.
- In 2009, police cracked down hard against Pittsburgh
G20 protesters. For two days, the city was on lockdown. Dozens of University
of Pittsburgh students were arrested. Police used batons, pepper spray,
beanbags, OC gas (similar to tear gas), sound cannons, and rubber bullets.
- Ahead of the meeting, thousands of police and National
Guard troops were marshaled. Requested permits were denied. Similar measures
are employed against IMF and World Bank protesters, others for global justice,
some against war, and when Republican and Democrat political conventions
- Each time, constitutional rights are denied. Police violence
and other repressive measures are used. OWS demonstrators are now targeted
and treated like criminals.
- On November 13, Portland protesters were evicted. Despite
supportive thousands on downtown streets, camp sites in two parks were
forcefully cleared. In Salt Lake City, police used bulldozers against protesters.
In Berkeley, police used truncheons against peaceful students trying to
set up a camp.
- Nationwide, thousands of arrests were made. Numbers mount
daily. Tent cities are being cleared. Reasons used are bogus. Alleged health
and safety issues are raised. So is talk about enforcing local ordinances.
- At issue is police state thuggishness, beating up on
people for Wall Street and other corporate favorites. Constitutional freedoms
are denied. Popular protests globally are targeted.
- "Total policing" met London students protesting
tripled tuition fees and abolishing the weekly 30 pound low-income family
allowance. Entire areas were blocked off. The city was on lockdown.
- Section 60 of the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order
Act "gives police the right to search people in a defined area at
a specific time (and) provides powers to require the removal of disguises
at public order events."
- Protesters trying to set up camp at St. Paul's Cathedral
and Finsbury Square were arrested and dispersed. Erected digital screens
told people they broke Section 12 of the 1986 Public Order Act. Some demonstrators
were constrained, others attacked.
- None of it's justified. In America and across Europe,
constitutional provisions, criminal and international law provide effective
tools against lawbreakers and potential threats. Why abuse the law when
what's on the books works fine. However, nothing there warrants police
crackdowns against lawful protests.
- Millions across America, Europe, and the Middle East
are fed up and want change. At issue is social injustice, political corruption,
banker occupation (aka financial terrorism), and repressive blowback against
popular opposition to austerity, inequality, and growing human need.
- Feigning support, Obama and congressional allies sold
out constituents for Wall Street and other monied interests. Unemployment,
poverty, lost homes, and other social injustice issues drive protesters
for change. Sustained struggle is the only way forward.
- No matter what obstacles they face, there's no turning
back now. There better not be to have any chance of succeeding.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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