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Posted by on Nov 16, 2011 in Business, Economy, Law, Politics, Society | 23 comments

(UPDATE II) Are The Feds Aiding Local Police Forces To Evict Occupy Wall Street Protesters?

Department of Homeland Security officers roust Occupy Wall Street protesters in Portland.

Have the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and other federal law enforcement agencies been helping the NYPD and other police forces to evict Occupy Wall Street protesters?

That is very much the case according to a Justice Department official who spoke to a Minneapolis publication.

The official said that the feds have been involved in nine other evictions over the past 10 days and stressed that while local police agencies had received tactical and planning advice from national agencies, the ultimate decision on how each jurisdiction handled the Occupy protests ultimately has rested with local law enforcement.

In several recent conference calls and briefings, local police agencies were advised to seek a legal reason to evict residents of Occupy tent cities, focusing on zoning laws and existing curfew rules. Agencies were also advised to demonstrate a massive show of police force, including large numbers in riot gear, the official said. In particular, the FBI reportedly advised on press relations, with one presentation suggesting that any moves to evict protesters be coordinated for a time when the press was the least likely to be present.

Charles Pierce, writing at Esquire‘s Daily Politics blog, notes that:

Your right to peaceably assemble for the redress of grievances, and how you may do it, and what you may say, will be defined by the police power of the state, backed by its political establishment and the business elite. They will define “acceptable” forms of public protest, even (and especially) public protest against them. This is the way it is now. This is the way it has been for some time. It’s just that people didn’t notice. And that was the problem with the Occupy protests. They resisted the marginalization — both literal physical marginalization, and the kind of intellectual marginalization that keeps real solutions to real problems out of our kabuki political debates. They could not be ignored . . .

Did President Obama green light the actions? We will eventually find out, and if the answer is that he was personally involved at some point it will be yet another black eye for a president who campaigned on, among other things, moving away from the police state mentality of the Bush-Cheney administration.

* * * * *

NYPD riot police move in on Occupy Wall Street protesters. About 200 were arrested.

With hundreds of New York City police officers clearing Zuccotti Park of Occupy Wall Street protesters early yesterday, in some cases brutally, and similar eviction actions planned or already carried out in other cities, it’s time to ask who the winners of the nearly two-month-long protests were.

First and foremost, the protesters themselves, but only barely.

The message of these largely young, white college grads that the 1 percent who control Wall Street and other financial institutions have rigged the rules to the detriment of the other 99 percent hit home with many Americans, most of whom approved of the demonstrations while not participating in them. But protesters were fast wearing out their welcome as Zuccotti and other protest sites became health and fire hazards, as well as hurting nearby businesses, and if anything the police actions in New York and other cities were overdue.

The very targets of Occupy Wall Street also were winners.

With the exception of Bank of America and a few other banks rescinding plans for debit card use fees at the height of the protests, nary a $300 haircut was ruffled, a glass of champagne went flat or a single Mercedes was traded in for a Prius as conscience-free banksters and their accomplices continued on their obscenely profitable and usurious ways.

On the political front, the Democrats were the clear winners.

Charges early in the protests from Republicans that Democrats are radicals who favored “mob rule,” as House Majority Whip Eric Cantor put it, were inane and the GOP was compelled to soften its message, eventually deciding on an equally silly line: Democrats are culturally out of touch with struggling blue collar whites and moderates.

Never mind that congressional Republicans have done everything in their power and then some to block efforts at jobs creation and jump starting the ailing economy, while most GOP presidential wannabes embrace the status quo, which is to say further undermining . . . struggling blue collar whites and moderates.

The Republican lip lock with the Vampire Elite may have its biggest test in Massachusetts next year where Elizabeth Warren is taking on moderate Republican Scott Brown, who captured the late Senator Robert Kennedy’s historically Democratic seat in a January 2010 special election.

Warren has aligned herself with the Occupy Wall Street movement and is running a television ad that pushes back against ads by Crossroads GPS, a Karl Rove-backed operation, that characterize her as an elitist and attack her for her support of the protesters.

The ad riffs on the broader argument advanced by the protests — inequality, excessive Wall Street influence and lack of Wall Street accountability — and on the fact that anxiety and anger over these problems are mainstream public sentiments that go far beyond the diehards camped out in tents.

Back in New York, a beyond patient Mayor Michel Bloomberg stressed that the protesters would still be able to use Zuccotti as long as they complied with rules that ban tents and sleeping bags.

“Protestors have had two months to occupy the park with tents and sleeping bags,” he said. “Now they will have to occupy the space with the power of their arguments.”

Protesters would have none of that and went to court to challenge the mayor’s eviction order. A small group later occupied a private lot about a mile away from the park in Canal Street after snipping a chain link fence with bolt cutters, whereupon police arrested them.

Photograph by John Taggart/New York Daily News

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  • JeffP

    The growing distribution of wealth inequality, the buying of politics with interest groups that perpetuate that inequality, and the harm that massive wealth concentration does to our democracy will continue to be an issue whether or not the “Occupy” movement exists.

    What I fear is a general uprising, where more than protests occur, where news is that people are ransacked or that places get burned to the ground or worse.

    The current young adults have so much less to see in their futures–The Atlantic had an article reminding us that post WWII (boomers) were settling into home ownership and steady jobs in their late TEENS and early 20s! Now about a quarter of the up-to-mid-30s live at home with their parents…

    What’s up with this? Where are the “job creators?”

  • JeffP:

    The job creators, some of whom began outsourcing jobs to other countries long before the Bush Recession, learned to their delight during the recession that they could earn more with less and with very few exceptions — the auto industry that Mitt Romney wanted to fail, for one — simply aren’t hiring. Record profits will do that for ya.

  • Rcoutme

    I was just reading an article on a different set of ‘job creators’ and their view that government intervention would cause problems for their ‘workers’. It was about the mine and factory owners of Great Britain in the 1840’s and 1850’s.

    The children would have been out of jobs if the government stepped in. And, hey, it was restrictive to prevent them from entering into contracts with their workers. No comment on how the 7-year-old girls who were carrying 50-weight barrels up ladders 7 times a day after having been ‘apprenticed’ to them felt about the agreements.

    Job Creators. We must always worry about those poor, picked-upon job creators. They’ve done so well at creating jobs with the estimated $2.5 trillion they’re sitting on right now, right? Meanwhile, we offer more and more ‘free-trade’ agreements to poor nations; thus forcing the price of labor in the US to drop more and more. Why is it that we don’t allow more doctors and other highly-educated professionals to come here and lower the price of professional labor? Oh, right, because they’re the 1%.

    The situation that has prompted OWS will not go away until enough of the 99% come to realize that they are not and never will be part of the 1%. The 1% have made sure of that ever since Reagan’s time. The Federal Reserve makes damn sure that the inflation rate stays at 2% or lower. What about it’s mission to keep unemployment near zero–eh, not so much. NLRB will make damn sure that the teamsters’ union will not be able to support a nurses’ strike at a hospital by refusing to deliver to that hospital (the union officers would be arrested and its assets seized). Yet, ever since Reagan’s time the funding for the NLRB has been so low that anyone trying to sue for having been dismissed for trying to form a union would have to wait at least 2 years to even get a hearing.

    The most telling story I have read about OWS was from a journalist who was arrested at Goldman-Sachs. He wanted the commodities trading (hoarding) to stop raising prices on food–he had seen its effects in third world nations in the starving children’s eyes.

  • JSpencer

    When an ideologue starts drawing from his core of hate and vitriole you know he’s been whipped!

    As for the 1%, they’d better not rest too easy. When the young people of a country believe they have no future they aren’t going to roll over.

  • To the point of the article, I disagree that OWS came out as a winner at all.

    Basically they jumped the shark. The view from suburbia (where the real middle class lives, don’t count them out) is these folks turned a valid movement into an excuse to live like slobs, do drugs, and either commit crimes or live in lawlessness. Accurate or no, that’s the impression they left.

    They carried this on too far. They should have made their point and then went back to form a real grass roots movement instead of a commune.

    As much as I disagree with their movement (especially after big money got a hold of it), the Tea Party did it right: a series of publicized protests and then work the grass roots. That’s what OWS should have done. Instead it’s a dystopian Woodstock wanna-be fiasco.

    It’s a shame, too.

  • RP

    Who amoung is is nieve enough to think anything is going to change?

    When you have elected officials that can participate in insider trading, make millions on their insider information and will not demand a vote on legislation to make this trading illegal, there is always going to be the 99% and the 1%. They go to Washington with middle class assets, spend 4-6 years and go home millionaires.

    Not until the government fears the people instead of the people fearing government, will anything change. And the OWS movement is not targeted on the right people. When Washington is targeted for supporting millions in bonuses to Fannie and Freddie executives, then maybe something good will come out of this movement.

  • SteveK

    Tent Cities are an American Tradition

    @ Barkey – To claim that normal, regular people like you and I (except for the fact that they have the courage that we lack) are somehow causing a “dystopian Woodstock wanna-be fiasco” is just what “Money & Power, Inc.™” are hoping to hear… Wanting you to say.

    precious suburbs (the real middle class [sic]) into third world ghettos.

    PS – The 1932 Tent City Protests got American Veterans the “GI Bill”!
    PPS – Why do so many today think this kind of protest is futile?

  • dduck

    I think America wins. With those unhappy being able to express themselves. Protest, garner what media coverage they can and a hospitable NYC and other locales mostly tolerating them- for a while. With that all, a relatively low incidence of violence and senseless rioting.
    Proud of you Ms. Liberty.

  • It’s not that protest is futile or pointless, it’s just that protest for the sake of protest isn’t very useful and is actually kinda goofy.

    Protest with a purpose and follow-up is most effective. Protest gets people’s attention and is the burst of energy required to get a movement going. But protest by itself can only go so far until it stinks like roadkill on the highway.

  • DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

    i agree with you Barky… MLK set it out clearly in his Letter from Birmingham Jail missive about how to go about it… in tea party and wall protest, some steps are missing that could/might bring better resolution. Too, it has been long enough now that there are provacateurs present and active. Not boding well when that occurs.

  • SteveK

    I’m sorry that there are those, who’s opinions I respect, that think the OWL “is actually kinda goofy”… You want to see “goofy” look at what you’ve allowed to happen to you and your children for the sake of “profit and the American way”.

    Bankruptcy is not a option for my grandchildren… nor is living a sub-standard life.

  • SteveK,

    Again, it’s not the message I’m degrading, it’s the modus operandi. I think they goofed.

  • Rcoutme

    I respectfully disagree with Barky. I am not certain that the OWS people really knew what to do to solve the problems. I think that their protest was to force the nation to see what the problems are (income inequality, in case anyone here has been brainwashed by FoxNews and other media outlets into thinking that they did not have a clear message). Solving such a huge problem is not something that your typical OWS protester is going to be qualified to do.

    Our politicians are paid to come up with such solutions, and if they don’t know how they can hire really smart people to give them ideas! I have been looking into such solutions for years. Meanwhile, there are some good ideas that I have found (or come up with) that I suggest to my representative and senators. The biggest problem I have is getting them to actually listen.

    I don’t mean ‘hear’, they do that quite often. I mean ‘listen’, as in actually read and consider the content of my letters. My representative has more and more people as his constituents each year. At some point in the past, one’s representative used to be John down the street. Now it’s some person who has a house somewhere near you (within 40 to maybe 200 miles or more depending on your district). Note: I am not counting places like Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, etc. as they are so large and uninhabited that their senators often outnumber their representative.

    Maybe what the country needs to do is hire fewer congressional staff people and more representatives (let them do their own research sometimes). At least if they did that, you might actually get to see your rep without it being at some fund-raising event or photo opportunity.

  • DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

    One of the things that weakens any movement is lack of unified leadership/spokespersons, and thence ‘clear cut’ demands with negotiations being pressed for to meet those/ negotiate those. Those stronger and more monied count on fragmenting to occur when there is no leader. They just wait for matters to progress into occupying a piece of land, rather than pressing forward their agenda in demanded meetings with those with the power to help change things.

    This is what MLK said must occur before non-violent protest. These may come yet. There is a shift it seems tho too sometimes this past week, away from the central premise, into fighting about other things. That would be truly unfortunate and fragmenting. People arrested: I think more than 200 in NY alone, some in Denver, some in Oakland and etc. Number of bankers, Countrywide Execs, SEC people arrested: zero.

    Too, I notice profound absence of Native Americans participaing here where I live, where there are many, many tribal people. Also absence here of the Asian Pacific community to a large degree. Also absence here of Latinos. Not sure what that means, but also saw same during efforts to repeal an amendment to the state constitution here. It appears that sometimes not all from different ethnic and economic groups come out in full waves even for good reasons that might help all. Not sure the message gets across as well, thus. Still watching and learning to see how the movement will ‘move.’ That their original premise was accurate, goes without saying, in fact often like a Venn diagram, OWS held several ideas I think complementary to many premises in original Tea Party people.

  • Quelcrist Falconer


    Again, it’s not the message I’m degrading, it’s the modus operandi. I think they goofed.

    Give the kids a break, they are young, naive and just starting to learn.

    Anyone who believes that the top 1% is going to negotiate in good faith without a gun to their head has not studied their history.

    What’s needed to fight the top 1% is a three prong assault consisting of a mass movement (of which OWS is a good start, but it’s got a long way to go, it’ll be up to the job at hand when it can put enough bodies on the street to shut down a major city a will), a political movement and an armed movement (think Sinn Féin, IRA). The good news for OWS is that there are a few hundred thousand about to be thrown out onto the street without a job in sight.

    And BTW Barky, these are the children of Suburbia, they, like many other people, have just discovered that there is no place for them in our economic system.

    Someone once said and I paraphrase:

    Watch what is happening to the Black community, cause it’s what is coming your way.

  • CStanley

    I think part of the perceptual problem that the OWS movement has is explained in one of the comments above…that a couple of generations ago it was common for young adults to be moving swiftly into the adult world of responsibilities, careers, and homeownership while still in their teens or early twenties.

    That has steadily eroded and it isn’t ENTIRELY due to our current economic conditions. Even while the economy was good, there was a definite trend for ‘kids’ to remain in college longer, delay ‘settling down’, and live with their parents for a longer period of time even when it wasn’t a true economic necessity (it may have seemed that way because they wanted certain things that the previous generations didn’t have, and the older generation wanted them to have those opportunities instead of struggling as they had done.)

    So part of the problem today I think, in terms of a movement of young people actually trying to bring attention to the dearth of economic opportunities for them, is that they’re part of a trend of young people who really have been pretty coddled and now it sounds as though they’re just wanting to be taken care of and resenting that that’s no longer possible.

    Again, I want to stress that all of this is perception and not necessarily reality…the truth is much more complex. But I think it leads to a messaging problem, so that the idea of setting up encampments and having benefactors pay people to live there and be fed, only lends to the stereotype of young people who are too immature to find a way to contribute to society.

    One problem with protest movements is that they rarely can see things from the perspective of their critics, so that they usually don’t find ways to disprove the skepticism about their motives. This was true of the Tea Party as well…it attracted a set of people who often fit the stereotype of conservative white Ameirca, and that included all of the reasons that liberal Americans dislike and distrust that group so that they couldn’t find common ground and simply denigrated the movement.

  • CStanley:

    I have the same impression regarding young people, as well, which inclines me to believe that this state of affairs is a reality.

    While the following experience is anecdotal, I believe it plays to the reality:

    I work in a university rare book and manuscript library where we have perhaps 3,000 visitors a year, about two thirds of whom are undergraduates. The sense of privilege is astonishing, especially among the young women who are dressed to the nines and wearing Louis Vuitton leather sneakers, and toting $500 Gucci handbags, $300 i-Phones and $3,000 MacBook Pros.

    A small example: An undergrad was assigned a research project on Colonial-era records of one of the churches near the university. My library has the only copy of those records extant. They have not been digitized nor are online.

    When I told this undergrad that she would have to read through the records, some 400 pages of longhand in all, she harrumphed, “I’ll just Google it!” and stalked out.

    All that said, I also would like to reinforce what Quelcrist Falconer said of the Occupy protesters: “Give the kids a break, they are young, naive and just starting to learn.”

  • wesleypresley

    Is this the same Federal government who encourages people in Syria and Iran to protest against their elites? Condemn violence abroad and beat the hell out of Americans at home. Occupy Iraq and Afghanistan is OK, Occupy Wall Street is bad. And people wonder why the USA is no longer a credible voice in world politics.

  • dduck

    I think the message got out. 99, not 999 is now in the popular vocabulary.
    I just wish, they could have “occupied” Washington, the unions, and the church. Late entry: college sports.

  • slamfu

    Gotta say I’m down with Barky and Cstan on this. I think OWS got too enmeshed in the idea of a leaderless movement. At some point after you get the attention of those in power you need to present a concrete list of demands and let them know there will be consequences if action isn’t taken. The OWS folks never seemed to get there and altho I was and am still amazed at the whole thing, it needed to be a bit more organized. You can still be a force, especially if you aren’t making or seen to be making a physical mess of city centers for months at a time.

    Basically it comes down to an old selling point. You can expect a customer to buy until you give them a bid. OWS never gave them a bid, so they were never in a position to even have to make a decision. It was unrealistic to expect politicians or the “1%” to come up with the solution for them.

  • JSpencer

    Getting back to the fed response:

    “Did President Obama green light the actions? We will eventually find out, and if the answer is that he was personally involved at some point it will be yet another black eye for a president who campaigned on, among other things, moving away from the police state mentality of the Bush-Cheney administration.”

    Ageed, it will be a black eye. What is better than a crackdown? How about the courage to begin implementing policies that show we actually care about giving these kids a future with the same opportunities the boomers had? All this talk about sense of entitlement (being spoiled) contains some degree of truth, but the bulk of young people just want jobs – so they can start a life. When they can’t do that what should they do, go away and quietly rot somewhere? That OWS may be without direction and organinzation, etc. but one thing is certain: It isn’t going away. It may morph in some ways, but until the longterm problems that are eating away at the non-1% are addressed, it will increase in some way, shape or form. If the only way the feds (and locals) deal with it is to attack the symptoms (meaning the protesters) then they are getting it back-asswards and in the long run will make the problems worse.

    Btw, here is an excellent interview with the editor of The Nation for those who care to listen to an intelligent and articulate spokesperson for progress in the age of Obama:

  • Rcoutme

    If anyone is actually interested in the policies that got us to the disparity in income and wealth the following is an excellent treatise on the subject.

  • dduck

    JS, Katrina vanden Heuvel is another disappointed Obama supporter and what a nice voice.

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