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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