Earlier today, my wife and I visited the Occupy Berkeley encampment and strolled the grounds. Like Occupy Oakland, the site was clean and organized, with receptacles for trash and recycling, as well as a kitchen providing food for the hungry.
As others before me have noted, the OWS movement isn’t just complaining about social ills, it’s acting to REMEDY them: providing food, blankets, and other goods to those who sorely need them in our communities (until the authorities close those sites down, that is — in many cases with unnecessary violence, brutalizing campers, visitors, and journalists alike and needlessly destroying the occupants’ property, including hundreds of tents and thousands of books, thus far).
At the time of our visit, the Occupy Berkeley kitchen tent was being manned by a pleasant young man who, in a pronounced Irish brogue, introduced himself as Shamus (Shamus Collins, it turns out). He was happily preparing food for the camp, constantly in motion, like a restaurant chef during the afternoon rush… except when he stopped to chat with us.
Affable and engaging, Shamus told us that, in addition to Berkeley, he’s been to Occupy Wall Street sites in Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, San Francisco, and even Oakland where, whaddaya’ know, he was shot by an American police officer…
Welcome to America, Shamus!
The Oakland Police shot Shamus with a non-lethal projectile on October 25th, apprehending him (and others) in the act of helping an American Iraq War veteran, Scott Olsen… who, you’re probably aware, had also been shot by the Oakland Police (at close range with a tear gas canister, critically injuring him — an incident that made news all over the world).
When Shamus casually related his story, my wife immediately recognized him from reports she had seen following that notorious incident. She recalled her dismay at the fact that police had assaulted people who were doing nothing more than attending to a young man lying on the ground, bleeding profusely from his skull, in obvious need of aid.
“How are you?” we asked Shamus, inquiring about his injury. Not so good, it turns out.
As a result of his injury, Shamus’s doctors tell him he is going to lose a kidney. “Non-lethal” these police weapons may be, but that designation should, perhaps, only be applied when their victims have access to medical professionals (another U.S. military veteran, Kayvan Sabehgi, who also served in Iraq, received “non-lethal” treatment at the hands of the Oakland Police, the very same day that Mr. Olsen did, and ended up with a lacerated spleen — I suspect that, had Shamus and Kayvan not received medical attention, one or both of them might not be with us today).
And such is the state of the rule of law in America in 2011. The police, illegally coordinating with the federal government, brutally assault peaceful protesters exercising their once-applicable First Amendment rights… plus any journalists, judges, and passers by who happen to get in the way.
…and the perpetrators of systemic fraud that nearly collapsed the world’s financial system — and which has devastated the global economy to the tune of $40 TRILLION (thanks to SOCIALIZED LOSSES and “leaders” who impose AUSTERITY on the 99%) — well, not a single one of those scumbags (who, despite gross incompetence, criminality, and mismanagement, have enriched themselves beyond Mammon’s wildest dreams) has even been charged with a crime.
But that’s okay; these “job-creating” Wall Street “whizzes” are just doing what comes naturally in the crony-capitalist, oligarchic, emerging police state they’ve helped build: They lie, cheat, bribe, and steal their way to the top (foreclosing on the folks they deceived just a few years earlier)… ultimately CREATING THE POVERTY that virtually guarantees the kinds of social ills — violent criminality, substance abuse, homelessness, etc. — that make America one of the most unequal nations there is… and the leading police- and prison- state in the world!
* * *
Still, sometimes I miss the old days — back when there was some semblance of democracy and the law applied to everyone… or we could at least pretend that it did. I miss the days when Nixon would say “if the president does it, that means it’s not illegal” and everyone laughed and laughed. (Versus 2011, when we’ve made everything Nixon did perfectly “LEGAL” — how ironic; “Tricky Dick” was just a few decades before his time!)
Oh, and before I forget…
Good luck with your one kidney, Shamus! And chin up: If you end up on Wall Street someday, or in Washington, you’ll be able to loot the public till, invade countries, hack phones, and torture (even bunga bunga with a minor, whatever you like) with total impunity — the police won’t even consider arresting you!
But until that day, I wouldn’t raise my voice much, peacefully assemble, or render aid to any injured, anti-establishment veterans — America’s new order doesn’t take kindly to that kind of bolshevism.