Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mayors and their police enforcers are living in an alternate reality

"Militarized" police raids (I take the term from former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper's Paramilitary Policing From Seattle to Occupy Wall Street posted yesterday at the Nation) often get full coverage from the media. That's because police like to show off their superior force and fire power in taking down "bad guys." Not so with last night's middle-of-the-night raid in NYC, when the jackboots went wild, beating and arresting the people spending the night in Zucotti Park (and, incidentally, trashing their 5000-book lending library: nothing like wanton, public book destruction to show whose side you're on). Not only did the NYPD not invite the media to film their post-midnight knock on the door, they actually imposed a media "blackout" when journalists from all the US's major outlets showed up. That blackout put the airspace above the Park off-limits to news helicopters and had police officers variously beating, arresting, and shoving around people like the highly respected Janet Maslin. (The police also arrested a city councilman, Ydanis Rodriguez.)

To top it off, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Lucy Billings signed a restraining order a couple of hours ago ordering that the protestors be allowed back in to Zucotti Park. Mayor Bloomberg is defying that order. (Remember Scott Walker? He defied a court order, too. And got away with it.) Once again, we see that courts matter only when they're rubber-stamping powerful government officials. (This has been a theme of the last decade.)

Brutal raids made in the middle of the night, raids that the media aren't allowed to witness, have an incredibly bad odor about them. An odor that I'm sure offends a lot more noses than just mine. The 19 mayors with "OWS problems" who according to Oakland Mayor Quan shared a conference call together a couple of days ago really need to do some actual thinking about what they're doing instead of reacting in an hysterical, kneejerk fashion to whichever powers that be are putting the squeeze on them.

ETA: The good news is that the books in the OWS library were not trashed. The LA Times reports:
The books that librarians and other protesters at Occupy Wall Street feared had been thrown out in a police raid on Zuccotti Park early Tuesday morning have been located. The books are being stored in a sanitation garage in Manhattan. The mayor's office tweeted a photograph of the stored books, saying, "Property from #Zuccotti, incl #OWS library, safely stored @ 57th St Sanit Garage; can be picked up Weds."

The library had more than 5,000 books, which had been catalogued by volunteers. They had been stored in a tent donated by author/rocker Patti Smith.

(Link thanks to Gary Farber.)

ETA: A second judge has now ruled-- against the protestors, backing Bloomberg's move to eject them from the park.

Also ETA: Turns out the LA Times report on the library being saved was bull. See the update Bloomberg: What A Brave,  Fearless Leader He Is

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