Cracking Down On OWS: Too Little, Too Late?

Anyone finding their way to this blog probably expected the semi-coordinated crackdown on the most visible OWS outposts yesterday, Zuccotti Park, drama-infused Oakland bastion and Portland. Among others.

The ‘Authorities’ in each instance carefully mimic each other. They proclaim support for ‘free speech’ but then offering a lurid litany of health, crime and sanitation speculations — all to cast themselves on the side of hygiene and order to the heretofore OWS sympathizing but still passive American suburban onlookers.

From Oakland to NYC it’s a gamble: that the majority of Americans prefer to focus on upcoming Black Friday sales and ‘order’ over their own nebulously understood self-interest. We haven’t done the focus group work. Outside heavy media/Twitter consumers, we’re skeptical how many average ‘Amerikhuns’ understand the meme ‘We are the 99%’ or why that phrase advances their interests.

OWS in some ways emerged in September as happy serendipity. What’s been accomplished between organizing meetings in August to November defies design.

OWS’ various general assemblies, mini-protest marches and world wide presence are perfect fodder to Twitterati, twitching, tweeting and forwarding each detail. This activity conveys dynanism, progress, excitement — and vicarious participation. It eventually spilled over into the reluctant trad media. We’ve long maintained that OWS as a specific socio-politcial phenomenon, however, needs more. OWS has still to create bonds beyond intensive social media consumers. How much connectivity does it have? We may soon find out.

As it stands now, OWS overall and a flagship NYC presence (where ever re-located) need more time as a tangible manifestation. Perhaps non-coincidentially, local forces of small ‘r’ reaction aren’t anxious to grant time. The Oakland mayor said on the BBC the mayors were in coordination. Of course, the ground truth at each encampment and its relationship with corresponding authorities vary and determine outcomes.

OWS, Zuccotti Park, Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Oakland

It’s encouraging that the OWS sites disrupted by force are prepared to return and stay, challenging actions in courts, etc. OWS across the country appears to understand the imperative to avoid vandalism and violence – sure barriers to connecting with their larger audience. They would be wise to seek access to recognizable professionals sympathetic to their purpose to refute the ‘health, sanitation and public safety’ canards, too.

Regardless of this week’s events we doubt OWS’ destiny is to embody post-Obama politics capable of directly challenging and defeating oligarchy. OWS’ greatest service is to open the door to possibility. To give tangible form for the media-consuming onlookers to recycle from their offices and anchor chairs that Americans would not necessarily resign themselves to the false politics of the two ‘party’ system.

But then again, OWS has surprised before . . .


One of the many clever meme from the UC Davis abuse. Via

UC Davis, Pepper Spray, Meme, Abuse, Assault on Peaceful Protestors