Monday, November 21, 2011

Occupy This

I don't generally talk politics. I have my reasons.

But I've been following the Occupy movement via Twitter, the NYT live Occupy blog and other online resources, and it irritates me that I can't find anything about it in local media. (Or, in recent days, as I was watching live feeds of clashes via the web, nothing was being broadcast on places like Headline News.) At least, that was the case on specific instances when I went looking for more info.

I could easily find newspaper and TV reports on the protests in Egypt, where citizens were sporting bleeding head wounds from military or police. I couldn't find reports on U.S. citizens who were being thrown in police vans with bleeding head wounds after the billionaire mayor of New York City sent in his helmeted police.

Even when that wounded citizen was a NYC councilman:
New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez screams police brutality while being arrested on Broadway after he was with a group who tried to push through a line of police officers. NYPD Clear Zuccotti Park of Occupy Wall St. Protestors. Tuesday November 15, 2011. NEW YORK, NY, USA. Photo by (Aristide Economopoulos/The Star-Ledger)
I could find stories about journalists being detained in foreign countries on trumped up charges because they were trying to cover the events there. I could not find stories about journalists being detained in my own country when they were trying to cover the Occupy movement:

A New York City Police Department accredited journalist is arrested while on Broadway. NYPD Clear Zuccotti Park of Occupy Wall St. Protestors. Tuesday November 15, 2011. NEW YORK, NY, USA. Photo by (Aristide Economopoulos/The Star-Ledger)
You can clearly see her press credentials on her lanyard. Journalists across the country -- 26 of them so far -- have been detained by police on charges ranging from disorderly conduct to obstruction just because they were on site of a breaking news story where peaceful protesters were getting the blunt end of what passes for justice in our country. Hit this link for info from Josh Stearns, who is tracking and verifying these arrests.

I could find stories about people being hit with tear gas or pepper spray or Mace while rioting in Tunisia, but there were no reports to be found of people being sprayed in the face with pepper spray while sitting and chanting on the sidewalk of an American city. That is, until this happened:

Seattle activist Dorli Rainey, 84, reacts after being hit with pepper spray during an Occupy Seattle protest on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at Westlake Park. (Joshua Trujillo/seattlepi.com)

Does this sound like America? Oh, wait a minute:
John Filo's iconic Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of Mary Ann Vecchio, a 14-year-old runaway, kneeling in anguish over the body of Jeffrey Miller minutes after he was shot by the Ohio National Guard. (via Wikipedia.org)
I guess it does actually. No one has been killed yet, but give the people with the guns time; the movement is still young. Seems to me the last time this happened, there was a war on and our president was more concerned about China than his own people.

Larry Downing/Reuters
President Obama with Hu Jintao of China in Hawaii. Mr. Obama has stepped up his criticism of Chinese economic policies.

That's not who I meant, but man it's weird how history repeats. (And for the record, that photo ran with a story about how Obama and the Republican Congress found something they agree on: Criticizing Chinese trade practices. How nice for them. Did they also agree that pizza sauce counts as a serving of vegetables?)

Meanwhile, my friend Karen Zacharias today had some choice words about finding something to stand for before the movement falls apart because of a lack of singular vision or clearly stated mission, and because they're protesting the wrong folks -- we can't stop the rich from screwing us over, but maybe we can vote out the cronies that aid and abet them. Please read her essay, 'Occupy Congress.'


Anyway, I remarked on the lack of Occupy coverage in the media to a person who is ostensibly in charge of such things, and was told he didn't know about these stories. That a NYC councilman had been busted in the head and arrested. That journalists were being arrested. That U.C. students were pepper sprayed for sitting on a sidewalk; as I was telling him, the local TV news ran a clip from the video below, and he was shocked. Shocked, I say. (Really, you should watch this video.)



He also said the people who make decisions on "wire stories" are very conservative and wouldn't be interested in those stories.

I believe they are in the majority right now, and I say to them, 
Shame on you.
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