Ganann: Police raids and violence against activists are Un-American

Gerald Ganann writes in a guest column for Informed Comment

I opened my local newspaper one morning recently to find that the Occupy movement had made it all the way to page two, albeit as a result of excessive police violence against the activists in Oakland and Atlanta (police excesses in New York, Boston, etc. get a pass). And as I write this, Scott Olsen, a Marine Corps veteran with two tours in Iraq, is scheduled to under-go brain surgery as a result of a head injury from a tear gas canister fired by the Oakland police (according to witnesses on the scene). The AP article described the protesters as “on edge” and “unnerved”. Well, I don’t doubt that if you’re attacked by SWAT teams and police in riot gear, using tear gas, batons, bean bags of lead shot and rubber bullets, you just might be “on edge”, or “unnerved”.

I’m sure there are those out there who think “those people” must have done something to warrant such strong police actions; that, “they got what they deserved.” Let me assure everyone that “those people” are from your neighborhood, they are your children, and your parents, they are people from your church and your workplace; they are truly a cross section of America … I know, I’m one of them.

I have occupied Freedom Plaza in Washington D.C. and People’s Plaza in Minneapolis. No, I don’t have an enslaving student loan hanging over me; my home has not been foreclosed; neither my job nor my financial security has been stolen by Wall Street criminals (so far); like Scott Olsen, I too am a veteran and also a member of Veterans for Peace; however I’m a little older than Scott (who’s 24), I will be 67 years old in a few days. While many of the protesters do suffer the hardships I mentioned and more, most of them are not out there merely to seek personal justice but are, like Scott Olsen and myself, seeking justice for all people.

Much has been made of the fact that this peoples’ uprising is “leaderless”. I’m old enough to remember when we did have leaders, inspirational leaders; Jack and Bobby and Martin, they were killed. Let us now take our cue from Thomas Jefferson and put our faith not in leaders, but in the American people. I can attest to an exhilarating atmosphere generated by the horizontal democracy that’s developing.

Many pundits denigrate us as having no unifying core issues or demands. As is so often the case, the pundits are mistaken. It’s just that the core issues (and the “demands” that will ultimately develop) are too broad for the pundits to grasp. The people standing up publicly for our rights simply want justice, and equality, for everyone; economic justice, and social justice, and criminal justice that is reasonable and applies the same to all. We want to restore the dream that has always been America; the dream embodied in the Declaration of Independence and codified in the Constitution.

The power of vast wealth in the hands of a few has horribly corrupted our environment, our marketplace, our government, and even our electoral process itself. So now we have no option left but to take up the rights and responsibilities bestowed upon us by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and restore our country. It is time now, to put aside our differences. It is time for the people to unite and use our lawful collective power to peacefully institute radical alteration of this government which has become destructive of our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

And just as a refresher, the First Amendment reads (in part), “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” These rights of the people are unambiguous and guaranteed not to be restricted or diminished by any law.


Gerald Ganann is a progressive activist and a member of Vets for Peace.

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Responses | Print |

10 Responses

  1. Our Justice in America has also been corrupted. The rule of law is worth fighting for. When we have for-profit prisons buying politicians it goes much further than simply the wealthy having a better chance of obtaining justice.

  2. Paraphrasing Lionel Trilling, why are we always surprised by the cynical use of force against ideas and ideals? Good article, thank you.

  3. It says volumes about American values and priorities that the few weeks of the Occupy movement have produced far more arrests and far more violence toward participants than three years of serious recession provoked by monied interests destroying trillions of dollars in assets and displacing millions from their homes. When have the police clubbed hedge fund managers and partners from major banking firms?

  4. Excellent piece, thank you
    The OWS movement should
    demandant free speach in the MSM. We should have open unrestricted, internet like political dialogue in the MSM

  5. Important article today by Chris Hedges. Juan knows about Chris because Juan also writes on Chris’s main outlet,

    Recommend going back over Chris’s articles and even to his books. Here is the link to today’s column on some of the people who have been living in the conditions necessary for the Occupy movement to make it through the winter.

    link to

    I was very involved in the anti Vietnam War demonstrations at Berkeley in the mid 1960’s. It was mostly students. There are generations of anarchists in the SF Bay area who were always around, but the bulk of the demonstrators were students.

    The steps of Sproul Hall had speakers every day. The student leaders Mario Savio and Jerry Rubin, and others were much more articulate than the spokespersons for the “power structure.” There were noted speakers as well such as Noam Chomsky.

    But the unions and police and many others did not support the effort. This time around it is the 99%. Reaching out to the various groups and doing something to integrate them to address the complex problems that our society has ignored for 30 years, nope for longer than that because we have not faced up to being a military empire. Alone and with our specific issues, we can not be heard. And the specific issues are extremely important which shows how bankrupt the political class is and the others in the oligarchy.

    Here is a primer on non violent resistance from dailykos yesterday. This is yet another area to be educated on for the long term effort we face to restructure society.

    link to

  6. It seems that we have reached the point where our only recourse is to create an alternative economy from scratch and then dare the “anti-big government” capitalists to outlaw it. Otherwise, they can always bribe us to betray each other, they can always brainwash us with paid ads (not just for elections; all commercial advertising sends the message that we depend on them), they can always threaten to move overseas.

    I’ve been thinking for many years about how to do it, but all I can manage is to come up with pieces:

    1. if you can’t buy American, buy used; get it on ebay and ship USPS if you can

    2. rent means the bad guys always get stronger

    3. the more free services you can squeeze out of the internet the better

    4. I guess I should have run Linux

    It might be time to take another look at Bob Black, the ’80s anarchist who argued in his book “The Abolition of Work” that the best weapon against capitalism was laziness; if we did the least necessary to survive the system would collapse. His slogan was, “Workers of the world, relax.”

  7. WTO riots in Seattle, 1999. Same story. The press painted them as black clad anarchists and Zerzan-ista’s, but the police attacked the crowd. The fact the Longshoreman’s union was part of the protest was never mentioned.

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