Jon Walker at FireDogLake teases out an issue that has probably occurred to many of you: how exactly have these big, and now coordinated, crackdowns on OWS been paid for? In cash-strapped Oakland, for instance, the first big raid, the one in which Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen was critically injured, the city called in forces from 17 different operations. In New York, as the Grey Lady reported in loving detail, the police engaged in extensive, secret rehearsals before going live. This wasn’t policing. It was a military operation.
As Walker writes:
In these bad economic times, cities and other local jurisdictions have been struggling hard to find funds to pay for even the most basic public services, including police. They have been forced to make extremely painful cuts at every level to stay within budget. They simply don’t have large pools of funds to spare.
Either cities like Oakland have decided using massive police force to break up peaceful demonstrations is worth wasting money that could have gone to fund needed city services like schools, public transit and infrastructure repair, or the cities are getting federal money from agencies like the Department of Homeland Security to pay for these military style crackdowns.
It’s even worse than Walker suggests. As we’ve discussed at length, austerity policies backfire economically, by slowing economic growth, which means GDP falls faster than the debt burden does, making debt to GDP ratios worse. Recessions typically hit the lower orders much harder than the rich. And while these crackdowns were nominally about getting rid of the OWS as a eyesore and alleged threat to public safety, it is not hard to see this as an effort to quash a developing mass organization that could stand up to bank/creditor friendly austerian policies.
Look at this video, courtesy Lambert Strether. The number of police involved is stunning, something that has not been adequately conveyed in print media reports. This for a group of maybe 2000 people at 1 AM? There were clearly other considerations at work besides simply clearing the park. A big one, as we have stressed, was keeping the media and anyone with a camera well away from any police manhandling. Another is the “resistance is futile” message, that those who oppose authority will lose when it is roused to show force.
From Casey Neistat, who made the film:
My office isn’t far from Zuccotti Park and when I heard it was being cleared I went down with my camera. I ended up filming for 18 hours until the Park was reopened at 6pm on November 15, 2011. The police presence was overwhelming, more than I’ve ever seen – more than during the blackout, more than the days after September 11th.
If you watch to the end, he also has footage of the woman who was punched, from a different camera angle than we showed earlier. Sobering stuff.