I try to keep my head out of the news. Admittedly, this is a strange confession to make cosnidering how much of my education I devoted to news and how much I aim to devote my career to social justice. Perhaps it was because I became completely disenchanted with the whole news thing. The whole concept of reporting being dictated by events, press releases and what the owners thought was fit to print. They taught me that news was multi-faceted, something I know in my bones. But they practice it one-sided and I don’t want to play the game right now. I need thicker skin first.
That being said, I’ve tried to really sit down and discuss with myself how I feel about Occupy. And while I still haven’t chosen a side, some things have happened to sway me. The interesting thing is that these events are more about the people voicing their opinions in public spaces not what they’re speaking about.
A homeless teenage mother loses her baby. not because she is homeless. not because she is a teenager. not because she does not have access to resources. not because she cannot care for her child. not because of malnutirition. not because of drugs. but because of police brutality suffered for quietly trying to make the world a better place in her own eyes. You could make the argument that a pregnant woman shouldn’t go to rallys. But you could also make the argument that running a marathon pregnant was a heck of a lot more dangerous.
In a marathon, you’re running just over 26 miles. In a rally, you’re standing there, voicing your opinion, maybe sitting down in places, maybe standing. For the most part the physical exertion quotient is pretty low. Explain to me how in this country in this day and age beatings, assault and police brutality are used as collateral to keep peace. Explain to me how instigating fights qualifies as keeping the peace.
So you’re on public property? So you’re angry? So you’re having conversations with passers by? So what! Nobody was incurring skull fractures and hemmorhages before the police got involved. And for what? To make sure that the green grass in a 3-acre field in the middle of a metropolis remained intact? Clearly, you have never been to a music festival because that turf gets wrecked bi-weekly in the summer.
Speaking of reassessing priorities, Keith Olbermann had a very poiginiant statement about public spaces and protestors around 5:30 of this video. It boils down to this: a city will gladly close it’s streets for a movie conglomerate filming it’s current installment of media but when it comes to folks exercising their rights and speaking out for what they believe in, municipalities send out their law enforcement officers armed with riot gear.
Perhaps we need to set the clock back 20 years when actual riots would break out after soccer games. Occupy isn’t a riot in it’s nature. So what’s with the over-compensating paranoia? Especially from former Illinois Provost, not UC Davis Chancellor, Linda Katehi.
The students at UC Davis are just that — students. Their opinions are probably more valid than most as college students generally haven’t lost hope for the rest of humanity. (That happens after they graduate and are unemployed for what seems like an eon. But that’s another story.) When I was the public/campus safety reporter at the college newspaper, I had to call Linda Katehi every now and again to discuss events on campus. She was always impossible to get ahold of so her stoic reaction to her new students at UC Davis was not surprising to me.
What was surprising was her statement that the students’ encampment was a danger to the student’s health and safety. To which I will echo Bob Ostertag’s sentiments in his piece for The Huffington Post: are you kidding me!?
So the discussion of Occupy is no longer strictly about the 1 percent vs the 99 percent, fiscal equality, universal access to a decent living and what’s best for the future of our contrty. It has also become an open discussion and sickening awakening to the lengths cities will go to to maintain order. Even if doing so means causing severe bodily harm to people expressing their thoughts. Where do we go from here, folks?