(updated below - Update II)
Following similar raids in St. Louis and Oakland, hordes of NYPD officers this morning forcibly cleared Zuccotti Park in Manhattan of all protesters; New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg took “credit” for this decision. That led to this description of today’s events from an Occupy Wall Street media spokesman, as reported by Salon‘s Justin Elliott:
A military style raid on peaceful protesters camped out in the shadow of Wall Street, ordered by a cold ruthless billionaire who bought his way into the mayor’s office.
If you think about it, that short sentence is a perfect description of both the essence of America’s political culture and the fuel that gave rise to the #OWS movement in the first place.
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Jesse LaGreca, who justifiably received substantial attention as an insightful and articulate spokesperson for OWS’s grievances, here condemns what he describes as the “1-party bankster owned oligarchy” (for more on what he means, see here). Meanwhile, here’s a photo of the police earlier this week clearing out Occupy Chapel Hill in North Carolina; the Baghdad-like scene is but a small taste of how para-militarized America’s domestic police forces have become and what we’re likely to see much more of if (more accurately: when) protests, disruptions and other forms of unrest continue to emerge in the face of a disappearing middle class and exploding inequality:
UPDATE: A New York state judge this morning temporarily enjoined the city from keeping the protesters out of Zuccotti Park, but Mayor Bloomberg is simply ignoring the Order and deliberately breaking the law by refusing to allow them back in. Put another way, Bloomberg this morning has broken more laws than the hundreds of protesters who were arrested. But as we know, the law does not apply to the Michael Bloombergs of the nation; the law, instead, has simply been exploited into a weapon used by the politically and financially powerful to prevent challenges to their standing.
Could #OWS have scripted a more apt antagonist than this living, breathing personification of oligarchy: a Wall Street billionaire who so brazenly purchased his political office, engineered the overturning of a term-limits referendum and then spent more than $100 million of his personal fortune to stay in power, and now resides well above the law?
UPDATE II: To justify his raid, Mayor Bloomberg said: ”We must never be afraid to insist on compliance with our laws.” Leaving aside the fact that torturers, illegal eavesdroppers, wagers of aggressive war, Wall Streets defrauders, and mortgage thieves are some of his best friends who thrive and profit rather than sit in a jail cell, this is the same Mayor Bloomberg who, now beyond all dispute, is knowingly and deliberately breaking the law by violating a Court Order of which he is well aware. He’d be arrested for that if he weren’t a billionaire Mayor (and indeed, having seen that bevvy of political and financial elites break the law in the most egregious ways with total impunity over the last decade, why would Bloomberg be afraid of simply ignoring the law?). Today really is the most vivid expression seen in quite some time of the two-tiered justice system I wrote my new book to highlight; the real criminals are not only shielded from the law’s mandates, but affirmatively use it as an instrument to entrench themselves in power and protect their ill-gotten gains.