Tuesday, 15 November 2011

They Came In the Night In the Land of the Free

New York police have cleared the Occupy Wall Street camp in the dead of night. Arriving at 1 am, they gave demonstrators 20 minutes to pack up and leave, arresting 70. The authorities told the demonstrators they were to remove all "private property" (like tents!) and could return presumably to stand all night in the open, in November. Allegedly, the camp in Zuccotti Park, was a health and safety hazard (sounds familiar to St Paul's protest in London?) and followed the clearing of a similar Occupy camp in Oakland in California a few hours earlier.

So much for freedom of speech and assembly in what is meant to be the land of freedom. If Egyptian police had done this in Tahrir Square, they would rightly have been condemned for squashing freedom of expression. Likewise, in many other countries, like Ukraine during the neoliberal "Orange Revolution", the USA squarely backed and even funded demonstrators as they brought down the mildly socialist government.

Different then when it is in their own backyard. Different when it is protest against the greed and excess of the 1,000 corporations and their political puppets who run our planet and rip us all off. These demonstrators have got it all wrong, it seems.

Freedom has its limits, it seems, if you are opposed to the Establishment. And so, as well as all the powers of surveillance and detention built into laws like the ludicrously named Patriot Act, they authorities will use by-laws to ensure that, in effect, prevent the protest continuing - as winter deepens, who on Earth will be able to stand in the streets of New York in the middle of the night, night after night?

Health and safety risk, the Powers-that-be claim. Yeah? Who's exactly?

Chilling, in more ways than one.

1 comment:

  1. ...and refused to let journalists cover the police operation in a blatant violation of reporters' first amendment rights. Freedom of the press clearly counts for little when the press threatens to look beyond the interests of Walll Street