Push youngest/oldest to the front lines….This is a battle over images, not just over the park.
– Charles Lenchner, Occupy Wall Street activist, Oct. 13, 2011
If the police overreact (as they are likely to) and we take the blows, and it is recorded, it will go worldwide and further tremendously galvanize the movement.
– Tarak Kauff, Veterans for Peace organizer, Oct. 13, 2011
When the activists of Occupy Oakland attacked police en masse on October 25th, throwing paint bombs and provoking volleys of tear gas, the images galvanized the Occupy movement as never before.
“Come see the violence inherent in the system!” they have all but shouted, using wild allegations of police brutality, and fallacious arguments about First Amendment violations, to build solidarity among scattered activists.
The outrage is sincere–but so is the jubilation.
Clashes with the police affirm the activistsʼ fantasy–that they are the leading a revolution, that the truths they speak are so potent that the “1 percent” must use force to suppress them.
The clashes also assuage the jealousy–what Harvard literature professor Philip Fisher once called “nightmare envy”– western radicals feel when watching the Arab Spring, where the struggles are deadly real.
But the Occupy activists have not just yearned for confrontations with police; they have planned them.
In at least two cities, they have sent military veterans–in uniform, thus violating military code–to the front of protest marches in order to provoke police and to be the first targets if and when police do use force.
For example, a video from New York, posted on Oct. 16, shows a former Marine taunting and provoking police officers.
Most recently, Occupy activists have circulated videos that appear to show a Marine veteran, Scott Olsen, being wounded by a tear gas canister fired by police during the Oakland riot.
Occupy Wall Street is calling for a nationwide vigil for Olsen tonight with the theme: “We Are All Scott Olsen.” MoveOn.org–no friend of the military–is also highlighting the incident, as are Think Progress and other left-wing organizations.
Olsen’s injuries appear serious (we hope for his speedy and full recovery), and the Oakland police may indeed have overreacted. Nonetheless, evidence collected by Big Government reveals that Occupy has long sought precisely the sort of spectacle Olsen’s injury provides, in order to win broader public sympathy and to rally Occupy activists around common opposition to the police.
That is clear from an email sent on Oct. 13 by Tarak Kauff to other Occupy Wall Street activists. Kauff organizes “nonviolent direct action” for Veterans for Peace–the group Olsen marched with in Oakland.
In anticipation of a raid by police the next day to clear Zuccotti Park for cleaning (which was called off), Occupy Wall Street activists planned to hold brooms as police arrived, to show they were willing to clean the park themselves.
Kauff advised activists to hold brooms “peacefully,” with the brush side up, so as not to create the impression that the protestors were armed. He then suggested:
If the police overreact (as they are likely to) and we take the blows, and it is recorded, it will go worldwide and further tremendously galvanize the movement…If that can be done, this could be a major turning point. You will put the police and city in a lose/lose situation…
The Occupy activists havenʼt relied on veterans alone. They have also tried to use “weak” people as sympathetic human shields–the old, the young, and disabled. Prior to the anticipated “cleaning” in Zuccotti Park, another activist, Charles Lenchner, wrote via e-mail: “Push youngest/ oldest to the front lines….This is a battle over images, not just over the park.”
(Note the word “push,” suggesting that some might have to be moved to the front lines against their will.)
And at the Oakland riot, Occupy activists brought along a woman in a wheelchair. The mainstream media dutifully broadcast the image of them pushing her through clouds of tear gas.
These tactics are not new. They are the same methods used by terrorist organizations like Hamas to win global sympathy during conflict with Israel.
Thatʼs no surprise, given that leading organizers in recent Occupy protests in Chicago are under investigation for links to Hamas and other terrorist groups.
Increasingly, as winter sets in and internal divisions worsen, the Occupy movement depends on such provocative tactics to maintain cohesion.
The emerging truth is that Occupy has no other grievances. The “tell” is this weekʼs attempt by the mainstream media to elicit comment from Occupy activists about student loans–just as President Obama has unveiled a new (and futile) proposal to cap monthly payments. The amounts cited by some Occupy activists–$20,000, for example–are high but not jaw-dropping (for example, Iʼm paying back roughly $200,000 in student debt.)
Buoyed by extended unemployment benefits, aided by Obamacare provisions that let 26-year-olds stay on their parentsʼ health insurance, living off generous public pensions, and tolerated (barely) by private and public landowners, the activists of Occupy are, at least in part, an apparently comfortable lot who dream of revolution, not reform.
But Occupy can only survive and grow if it can provoke violence from police, and thereby evoke sympathy from the public. Expect more Scott Olsens, soon.