Friday, October 28, 2011

The NYC Police Taking Pride in their Work --- plus a Message about our Social Security

Below is a screen snip from the slideshow accompanying a New York Times story on how cities are starting to move against "Occupy" protests.

I first took particular note of the photo for two reasons:

1) The sight of the two cops obviously straining, really getting into their "work" against an apparently hapless protester. Isn't it reassuring, in a time when so many employees supposedly don’t care about their work, to see two "workers" so serious about doing their job "right"?! (Or should I say "right-wing", instead of "right"?)

2) The large letters on the jacket of the "white-shirt" officer to the right that identify him as "police". This gets to the point I've raised previously (via comment to a story at the NYT, at the Sardonicky blog, and at RealityChex): I believe that all law enforcement and military should wear a large (at least 10 cm tall) identifying number on their uniform, to permit identification at a distance by witnesses and/or photography, of those in positions of authority who abuse their power. As in most jurisdictions, the New York City police have no problem wearing jackets with large letters that identify them as police — but when it comes to specific identification of a particular officer, that will be extremely small (if at all), and certainly not readable at a distance.

The photographer, Spencer Platt, has done a masterful job of capturing these essentials.

However, what prompted the screen grab was the incongruity of the juxtaposition of the above police action in the service of the powers-that-be, with the Charles Schwab advertisement about Social Security to the lower right — and the inanity of a New York Times system for placing advertisements with their content. While the Schwab ad refers to retirement planning, and the pairing was undoubtedly generated automatically, it nevertheless says much. It's about how the vast majority of the public — after more than three decades of being woefully short-changed relative to the corporations and the plutocracy — are about to have their social security and other benefits partially taken by a government (supercommittee, Congress, and the executive) seeking austerity on the backs of the people, in unjust response to a financial crisis largely caused by financial trading. It's about how our supposedly-guaranteed right to assemble for protest has been so constrained as to be a sham. It's about how the police as a whole serve the corporations and the plutocracy. And it's about how the powers-that-be — in any government — will always be able to find enforcers willing to physically act against the people.


  1. Fred, I'm just aghast: at the picture, at what's happening in this country. So unbelievable that the powers that be are attempting to "solve" the financial mess created by financial trading on the backs of those who can least afford it. And then when people protest the inequities, the corporate media portray them as clueless slackers and worse and the police treat them like criminals -- when the real criminals are sitting at their Wall Street desks and in political seats of power.

  2. Great photo! As you said, Fred, it really captures this change of strategy on the part of city governments around the Occupy movement. And of course, you are absolutely right. There is so much authority built into the job and the uniform of police officers. This authority needs to be tempered with some accountability as a safety mechanism. I am sure there are lots of good cops out there, but just like everywhere else, there are some bad apples.

    I have often thought how wonderful it was that OWS was able to identify Anthony Balogna after the pepper spray incident. I think it has made more than one zealot cop a little more wary - understanding that their actions might have consequences. We all act better when we know we are being watched and the police are no exception.

    As for cutting Social Security in order to pay for wars and bailout banks - even the most conservative Republican should be forced to think twice about it. I sense the tide is turning. As someone wrote elsewhere, people don't necessarily understand how they are pulling it off, but they sense it is not a level playing field and that they have been the ones who have been shortchanged.

  3. Sorry that last bit didn't make sense! Let me try again.

    People don't necessarily understand how the elite are pulling it off, but they sense it is not a level playing field and that they, ordinary citizens, have been the ones who has been shortchanged.

  4. Fred, I take heart in the Greeks. They get to vote whether they want austerity or not. Isn't that how democracy is supposed to work?

  5. Fred,

    Fine comment today over at Sardonicky.

    I don't have one of those smart phones to text or twitter, but I think such devices could come in handy for the next phase of OWS, given the dog-like loyalty of most police forces to their plutocrat masters, even though the taxes of common people fund most police forces.

    OWS ONE went for "long," or at least tried to make their point through endurance. They succeeded but then became sitting ducks for infiltration, contamination, and finally the inevitable police rough stuff.

    Why not an OWS TWO phase employing an opposite tactic? It's been tried before for fun in big cities. How about getting serious with the tactic? I mean, through the immediacy and numbers of Twitter and such apps, have large crowds suddenly appear at an appointed time then disperse just as quickly before the police get a 911 call, or know what to do with it? Or call a day-long general strike on short notice. Or a week's boycott of a product or service, like a Koch product (there are so many used every day in the home) or a bank about to foreclose on some family.

    Everyday Americans might finally realize the power of their numbers. Wasn't that realization in Eastern Europe, starting with Poland, what eventually pushed the Soviets and their puppet rulers right off the planet? The people stood in solidarity in great numbers and said 'no more.' And in Western Europe the unions and other guilds have lots of practice at filling the streets with millions who get the word back to governors about the limits of state powers while awaking the still-slumbering populace. Who needs parks as long we have streets?

    There is no need for OWS stalwarts and their supporters to camp out through the winter to make their point about systemic injustice and to make the injustices clear to the entire populace. Long occupations only put mayors and police chiefs in a bind with a predictable conclusion. Occupy swiftly, but often. Just show up unexpectedly in numbers at select sites long enough to interrupt -- really interrupt -- business as usual. Disrupt nonviolently. Convey the OWS message through one-act plays, not epic stands. Do that often enough, nonviolently, and intelligently and you can jam a monkey wrench into the system that's been grinding most of us up into loose, disorganized detritus, one grain at a time.

    ALL 99% - ONE UNION!

  6. Nice blog you have here, Fred. I caught your act over on truthdig. Bravo!


    Tom Degan

  7. A tardy thanks to everyone for their comments here.

    And @Jay, I like your tactical suggestions.