Occupy protesters today in Oakland, CA took to the streets in what’s been called a “general strike” against the city and area businesses. Oakland city officials said numerous Bay area business could be affected by the event, which currently includes thousands and appears to be citywide in scope.
The Occupy Wall Street movement has received a much needed second-wind in the form of wide support from area labor unions — and notably, veterans — after 24-year-old Iraq veteran Scott Olsen was injured by police during an Oct. 25 raid on the Oakland protests. Olsen, a former Marine and member of the organization Veterans for Peace, suffered a fractured skull after he was allegedly struck by a “bean bag round,” a typically non-lethal projectile used by police for crowd control. Olsen — whose condition on Monday was elevated from “critical” to “fair” — is now expected to make a full recovery. Howard Jordan, Acting Oakland Police Chief, told reporters during an Oct. 28 news conference his department was investigating the incident.
The current Occupy Wall Street protests resemble little from its humble beginnings in downtown Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park more than a month ago. The movement has now gone global, with a series of longstanding satellite protests in San Francisco, Portland, Chicago, Washington D.C., Seattle, Philadelphia and Columbus, not to mention an international glut of similar uprisings with every city from Paris to Santiago joining the fray.
For a movement that had been previously criticized by pundits and the press as lacking a central meaning or message, many say Olsen’s story now lends a face and a name to the cause.
Fox News et al. will invariably move the goal post in their coverage of these latest rounds of protests. From the beginning, the media has been predictably pitiful in their response to the Occupy Wall Street movement. For the first week of the protests they couldn’t even be bothered to make the trek twenty blocks south to cover it. It wasn’t until several poorly behaved NYPD officers responded with unnecessary force and the local news was forced to cover the event that the national press realized something of importance might be going on. Two weeks late to the story. Is there any wonder why no one buys newspapers anymore?
When national TV crews did arrive they came prepared, as they always do, with a laundry list of preassembled narratives. The gross hypocrisy in their treatment of modern civil disobedience cannot be understated. When the Tea Party organizes by bringing loaded guns and misspelled signs to public parks they’re “patriotic” participants in the democratic process. When liberals do it they’re a “mob” that “doesn’t know what they’re protesting.”
Contrary to what the media will tell you, Occupy Wall Street doesn’t suffer from a “lack of message.” The principle tenants of the Occupy Wall Street movement are obviously, abundantly, painfully clear. Current U.S. economic policies have given the top 95% of earners in this country carte blanche to repeatedly run our economy into financial destitution through increasingly shady, irresponsible and woefully unregulated business deals that often bordered on illegal (sometime they were illegal outright). What’s worse, they made money doing it, with the tacit understanding that the jobless, the lower class and those recently foreclosed upon as a result of the very mortgage mess our financial community created would pay for it. And we did. Now, those who bailed out the top earners find themselves with increasingly fewer resources and absolutely no legal recourse available. What part of this is difficult to understand?
It isn’t a partisan movement either (an ideological one yes, but one trip to the park will show you anti-Obama sentiment is de rigueur of the cause). The Occupy Wall Street protests are the logical result of years-long percolating contempt and disillusionment with a sliding scale of economic favoritism in this country that provides a red carpet for one group while handing out brooms to the rest. There’s this ongoing proclivity for Americans to roll out blanket statements of support and empathy for those who stand up against tyranny in third-world nations, yet when we have the gall to question our own increasing economic disparity we’re simply Marxist hippies enacting “class warfare.” Our collective lack of critical thinking in times like these is paramount to a diseased, crippling stupidity that affects us all as a culture. Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?