The movement to quash Occupy has been gathering steam across the US and elsewhere, but nowhere as spectacularly as the early-morning raid against the original Occupy Wall Street movement itself in Zuccotti Park. As elsewhere, the pretext was "health and safety."
The pretext is a lie.
If the real reason for the sudden, violent eviction of peaceful protesters was really "cleaning," all NYC Mayor Bloomberg had to do was ask -- the last time "cleanliness" was a major issue, OWS protesters bent over backward to make the park spotless themselves. If it's bathroom functions that are the concern, I hear they have these things called port-a-potties that show up at pretty much every other public event, ever; it shouldn't have taken nearly 2 months for OWS to be able to get a measly three of them located blocks away.
If the issue is safety, e.g. allegations of assault, perhaps the NYPD should be directed to do their actual job in investigating crime; police should have entered the camp with the clear notification that they were there not to persecute the encampment as a whole, but to lawfully investigate based upon actual evidence, as they would elsewhere. Those directing police action, whomever they may ultimately be, seem to have been more interested in using reports of crime as a pretext to drive off and/or arrest everyone involved in the protest, rather than actually investigate the truth of any specific allegation or serve justice for any particular crime.
Active suppression of the media does not help NYC's argument of "legal and necessary," either. The raid on OWS explicitly denied all media coverage, including ordering off overhead news choppers. Police might not be able to stop social media, but if the best view to be had of their action is a few citizen shaky-cams, the official line of stonewall, deny, and treat any allegation against the police or city as unfounded rumor becomes that much easier. Worse still is the media's complicity -- while the story was breaking, no major US outlet so much as commented, much less covered the police action and efforts to stifle the media. If you wanted to see what was going on live on television, Americans were left to turn to Al Jazeera! Is this what the US has come to, having to look to the Arab world for free press?
The message we are hearing from New York City and other cities is that the police are increasingly being used less to protect citizens and serve justice for crime, and more to act as paramilitary forces to wipe away citizens whose peaceful presence and ideas have proven "too inconvenient." Local governments seem to be unwilling or unable to actually talk to protesters about legitimate concerns, and the consensus has increasingly become "let's just wait and let rumors and allegations build up so we have a pretext to sweep everyone away as if they were all filthy-hippie criminals."
For the vast majority of OWS protesters, nothing could be further from the truth. Today's raid in NYC shows this; after police action, the remaining evicted protesters remained peaceful, bending over backward to comply with police orders, and took their grievances to court and legal redress. If the conservative and official spin of "OWS hooliganism" was even slightly true, there would have been fewer legal arguments and more riots; yet the protest has remained astonishingly peaceful even in the face of police violence.
The pretext is a lie. And it's time for Americans to realize it, get angry about it... and do something about it. Just being upset and astonished isn't enough, it's time to join the protests, write and call our local officials and state and federal representatives, and make it clear to candidates in next year's elections that suppression of protected American freedoms are issues that we as voters care about and will vote upon. We need to act -- peacefully, legally, but with determination and, increasingly, a clear voice.
We are fed up with power being used against, rather than for, the people, and we will remove politicians from office with the power of our votes if they will not heed our concerns. We are, after all, the 99%.