This morning, writer, comedian and activist, John Marshall, sent these thoughts after following the tragic, sickening police attacks that took place in Oakland to enforce the eviction of Occupy protesters, wounding many including an Iraq war veteran now in critical condition:
“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Gandhi
We have moved on from the ignoring phase and the ridiculing phase to the fighting phase.
The violence that is being inflicted on protesters is being done in the name of health and safety. The authorities, who speak to the protesters in condescending, parental tones – are now positing the notion that violence is not only good, but good for you.
Tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper spray, beatings, arrests without explanation – all of these are now necessary for the smooth functioning of democracy, which, like the proverbial Vietnamese village, must be destroyed in order to save it.
Authorities see protesters’ use of basic Constitutional rights as an attack on authority, which it is. They also see it as an illegitimate use of power, which it is not.
They counter citizens’ legitimate use of Constitutional power with illegitimate violence, because they can – and because the corporations which they answer to demand it.
For a short time this allows them to believe the illusion that the status quo has been maintained and that dissent has been wiped out.
It is regrettable, authority says, that ordinary Americans must be punished so harshly, but tough times call for tough measures. They count on protesters to “come to their senses” and retreat to their normal lives.
This time things are different. This time the battle is everywhere. This time there are no normal lives to retreat to. Everyone knows the status quo is gone and is not coming back.
If the authorities were honest, they would admit this. Right now honesty is hard to find among authorities, when it comes to protesters.
OWS doesn’t have all the answers (or even a list of demands), but they are in the moment and are looking to the future.
The authorities’ thinking is based solidly in the past.
They will lose.
They will lose because a minority that lives in the past cannot control a majority that is committed to the future, even a painful one.
Destroying the rights of American protesters is tantamount to destroying America. I don’t believe this is what authorities want. We are all being subjugated by the corporatocracy. All of us. I believe that we all expect a better country than one which condones violence against its own dissenters.
I believe, to take more inspiration from Gandhi, that in the end, we will win.
We thank John Marshall for contributing to our APV blog, and appreciate his work for the Occupy movement. He’ll be performing tonight at Comedy Relief to Support Our Troops at Occupy Wall Street at the Yippie Museum Cafe in New York City, and filming a music video based on the movement in Zuccotti Park for Tyrannosaurus Rocks on Thursday. Join him if you can!
(Occupy Oakland will reconvene every day at 6pm at 14th & Broadway until the camp is reestablished.)