Dorli Rainey, 84, reacts after being hit with pepper spray during an Occupy Seattle protest on Tuesday.
Over the past ten days, more than a dozen cities have moved to evict "Occupy" protesters from city parks and other public spaces. As was the case in last night's move in New York City, each of the police actions shares a number of characteristics. And according to one Justice official, each of those actions was coordinated with help from Homeland Security, the FBI and other federal police agencies.
This is another reason why the Democratic Party won't see any benefit from attempting to co-opt the Occupy movement.
The FBI has so far failed to respond to requests for an official response, and of the 14 local police agencies contacted in the past 24 hours, all have declined to respond to questions on this issue.
But in a recent interview with the BBC," Oakland Mayor Jean Quan mentioned she was on a conference call just before the recent wave of crackdowns began.
"I was recently on a conference call of 18 cities who had the same situation, where what had started as a political movement and a political encampment ended up being an encampment that was no longer in control of the people who started them."
I'm certain that every mayor in the nation, from Michael Bloomberg to Annise Parker, is thinking that Jean Quan is a real dumbass. Among the concerns that coordination is designed to address is the 'criminal element'.
Don't set a midnight deadline to evict Occupy Wall Street protesters — it will only give a crowd of demonstrators time to form. Don't set ultimatums because it will encourage violent protesters to break it. Fence off the parks after an eviction so protesters can't reoccupy it.
As concerns over safety and sanitation grew at the encampments over the last month, officials from nearly 40 cities turned to each other on conference calls, sharing what worked and what hasn't as they grappled with the leaderless movement.
A media blackout is also part of the coordinated strategy.
New Yorkers awoke to front-page stories and photographs in both the New York Post and the New York Daily News. Coverage by the two papers was supportive of the mayor and the police actions but disparaging toward the protesters. An AlterNet reporter, arriving on the scene at 1:30am, shortly after the raid began, could get nowhere near Zuccotti Park due to police barricades (and was subjected to pepper spray while attempting to report on events). How did the friendly reporters gain their access? Was there advance coordination to allow certain media outlets access and block the rest? Why was press access restricted? Were some reporters' credentials confiscated? How will reports of unwarranted force on the part of police toward the press be addressed?
More on the constitutional implications of Mayor Bloomberg's actions here. Calling tarps that shield food and medicine from the weather a 'tent', which is 'illegal', appears to be part of the coordinated strategy.
A dispute over what constitutes a tent led to the arrest of an Occupy Houston protester Tuesday at a downtown encampment at Tranquility Park, members of the group said.
They said several Houston police officers came to the park about 2:30 p.m., ordering them to remove tarps that were covering tables.
Occupy Houston members said the tarps were only brought out because of Tuesday afternoon's rain.
Protesters said police told them that placing tarps across tables — even as a temporary measure to protect supplies from the rain — made it a prohibited tent.
Some of the protesters questioned the timing of the decision to send Houston police into Tranquility Park on Tuesday.
"They waited until it was raining when they knew everything was going to get damaged," Diedrich Holgate said.
In New York, police took knives and slashed the heavy-duty Army tents that OWS had brought in to shield demonstrators from the bitter winter on its way.
So besides exasperation, why are coordinated attacks occurring on Occupy encampments now?
(T)he timing's very interesting -- and, for some people, very convenient. The nation's expecting a deficit package from the undemocratic super committee, anticipating another possible free trade deal, and waiting to see whether Wall Street will go unpunished for its foreclosure crime wave. All that makes this a very good time for dissident voices to suddenly disappear.
Go to that link to read more about the coming Catfood Super Committee's austerity bargain, the Free Trade with Asia deal going down right now, and the Obama DOJ's immunity-from-prosecution agreement with the Wall Street gangstas. Probably a good time not to have angry people in the streets already when those things come down.
Or so they think.
The one good thing about the violent responses from police departments trying to put down the Occupy movement is that they will fail. Just as those same government crackdowns failed throughout the Middle East.
Violence against peaceful protestors brings even more people into the movement. This is the hydra of revolution; cut off one head and two more sprout. The more they try to knock it down, the stronger it will grow.
Occupy has already grown past the point where repression will stop it. The only thing that will stop the movement now is for those in power to address the issues that the people demand.