Current protests are the latest expression of American civil liberties
By Gary Lindstrom
It was widely reported in the national media this week that more than 73 percent of Americans support the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations as well as the Occupy movement throughout the United States. Yet at the same time there are some conservatives in Congress and others running for offices who adamantly oppose the movement. They insist that the police come in and move them out. They do not talk about their issues. They can only talk about how they dress and act.
Presidential candidates are standing up on a daily basis and saying exactly the same things that the Occupy demonstrators are saying. Things are out of control. It is time for change. Let’s get big business out of government. Yet the same people’s campaigns are heavily funded by big business. How ironic. Money = politics. Imagine that?
I saw a chart online the other day that compared our current Tea Party with the Occupy demonstrators. On one side was what the Tea Party wants and the other side was what the Occupy demonstrators want. There were only a few items exclusive to each side but the majority of points were in the middle. The Tea Party and the Occupy demonstrators want the same thing for the most part. They both think that government was part and parcel to the current recession. They both think that government has wrongly rewarded banks and big business by pouring billions of stimulus dollars into their coffers. They both think that our government has done nothing to punish those responsible for the mess. They both think that government and big business (Wall Street and the banks) are co-conspirators in the collapse of our economy and our out-of-control unemployment.
I teach American government, United States history, world history, sociology and nineteen other subjects at the college level. I will assure you that the history of the United States is full of examples where the people demonstrated, camped out, took over public space and changed the world.
I was a police officer in New York City and Colorado for nearly forty years after I served for six years in the military during the Vietnam era. I did not come by my thoughts and opinions lightly.
I have probably spent more time at anti-war demonstrations as a police officer than any demonstrator has during their lifetime. I saw what was going on and heard their rhetoric first hand over many years. And, believe it or not, as a student and teacher of history, I was proud of what they were doing and I was proud to see men and women exercise their civil rights and to see a terrible war end, at least partly a result of the demonstrations.
It is sad in a way that the very people who believe that they are the most patriotic and support our nation to the highest level have never read the United States Constitution or studied our history.
The true purpose of the Second Amendment to the Constitution, the “Right to bear arms” was so that people could have firearms in their homes that could be used to overthrow the government. This was a lesson from the American Revolution, when they found out how important personal firearms are to keep the government under control. It has nothing to do with carrying a concealed weapon as some would tell you. It has to do with protecting your rights as an American citizen.
The American Revolution was an “occupy” process. Look it up.
The Civil War was an “occupy” process. Look it up.
In the very middle of the United States Civil War there was a movement in the north to protest against the draft of men for service in the military — the 1863 Draft Riots. Part of it was also the fact that men with money could buy someone else to fight the war for them and then not be drafted. You think that things are corrupt now?
Following World War I, veterans marched on Washington D.C. because they thought they did not get compensated. They occupied parts of our national capitol and were referred to as “The Bonus Army.” Sseveral of our cherished veterans were killed when General McArthur led troops into their camps to end their occupation.
Later, after the beginning of the depression, veterans and others moved into Washington D.C. again and built a tent city called “Hooverville” as they blamed the United States Government for being party to creating the depression. Sound familiar?
Here in Colorado, some coal miners and their families were occupying land near the Ludlow mine in southern Colorado in the early part of the 2oth Century. (They were probably mining “clean” coal but did not know it.) The coal company got a hold of someone at the state capitol and they sent the National Guard, as they were known at the time, to put down the occupation of the coal mine property. The Guard ended up killing several women and children in the process. Historically it is referred to as the “Ludlow Massacre.”
When people started driving a lot, the Colorado Courtesy Patrol (now known as the Colorado State Patrol) was formed to enforce traffic laws. The regular law enforcement function was left up to the counties and the towns through the Sheriffs and the Police Chiefs and their respective departments. I found it ironic that the Colorado State Patrol was called in wearing full riot gear to remove the Occupy Denver people from the park at the capital recently.
Yes, I know that Colorado State Patrol officers serve as security guards at the State Capitol and also provide security for the Governor. So what was the security problem that they had to take care of by moving the Occupy Denver people? I wonder if they thought the women and children at Ludlow were a security problem also.
Another bad Colorado story is the Sand Creek Massacre. (Do you see a theme here?) Some American Indians were camped in eastern Colorado along Sand Creek. They were basically just hanging out. You know, occupying the area near Sand Creek. Some people at the Colorado State Capitol decided that they did not want them there anymore so they sent the cavalry to move them out. Most of the men in the tribe were gone , with only women and children at the camp. For some unknown reason the cavalry decided to kill the Indian women and children to fulfill their mission in getting the Indians out of Sand Creek.
I read another article recently about the Occupy Wall Street demonstration and how, now that they have finished their first month of the occupation, that the police and the government of the City of New York have given the demonstrators high marks for organization. They have food distribution, medical clinics and regular trash collection. Maybe they should be running our government.
I found it very upsetting that the Occupy Denver people allowed the police to move them off the capital grounds without any resistance. I realize that they just walked across the street to the City of Denver Park at Civic Center and continued their occupation. But I think that moving them was illegal in the first place. If they are a security or health problem then that is another situation but to move them just because they are occupying an area is wrong.
Why, when most people agree with the demonstrators, are the duly elected and appointed officials abusing their power and authority to end the occupation?