I am not participating in the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations because I don't like crowds and cheesy slogans. But they have provided me with an opportunity to express my revulsion with the New York Police Department's crowd control tactics, which are excessive and totally unnecessary, as these protesters are generally a model of good behavior. No one is throwing molotov cocktails, rocks or creating mayhem, but for the NYPD, spilling off the sidewalks is the only pretext it needs to overpower the protesters by netting them into pens, which is quite humiliating, confining them to the sidewalks, which is immensely frustrating, arresting people for resisting arrest, and even spraying them with mace, which is ridiculous. It's almost as if the police is egging on the protesters into getting violent.
Last I heard, the nature and purpose of a demonstration is precisely for people to spill out into the streets. What the hell is the purpose of hundreds of people coming together if they are going to be relegated to the sidewalks? It's a protest, not shopping day after Thanksgiving.
Before I knew any better, I participated in a couple of the protests against the Iraq war and in the first one, the NYPD prevented the swelling crowds from reaching the meeting point, did not allow the demonstrators to march and congregate in front of the UN and used mounted police to disperse the crowd, which was mostly comprised of perfectly peaceful students, families with children, old pinko hippies, and the occasional Trotskyite.
Even their crowd control on innocuous parades like the Halloween or the Gay Pride parade is reminiscent of a police state.
These current protests are disheartening because they seem to have no impact. The media barely covers them, people like me and many others can't be bothered to attend, and nobody understands the message they are sending, since it tends to be diluted by cute slogans and obnoxious chants but no discernible focus, like "tax the rich".
In the end it's a lot of progressive young people plus the old pinko hippies and the occassional Trotskyite, taking the mantle for a battered middle class and the jobless who should be out in force, but perhaps are too busy making ends meet and looking for employment. If there was someone charismatic and righteous at the helm, like a Martin Luther King, who could galvanize people to mobilize, it would be a different story.
This video sadly sums up the reality of the situation.