Last night, in the latest in a series of nationwide police actions designed to prolong and strengthen the Occupy Movement, Los Angeles police engaged in a focused, decisive and ultimately successful attention-gathering operation. Drawing on their storied history of overreaction as well as demonstrating their leadership status in American law enforcement, the LAPD was the first force to deploy bomb-sniffing dogs and a cherry picker in their media-attracting arsenal.
As part of their campaign to cement images of Occupy protesters as non-violent victims of police overreaction, the use of new kinds of scary looking, supposedly non-lethal weapons against unarmed protesters were featured in the slideshows of the local paper of record. Other officers also wore special hazmat suits to underline the demonstrators’ point about the use of imagined threats to justify fear-based police overreaction.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck declared that he was “satisfied” with the operation and “relieved”. I share Beck’s relief. There was a chance that cold weather in the North, and general boredom in the South, would cause the Occupy protesters to quietly lose interest and abandon their encampments. The work of Beck and other movement supporters, most notably Linda P.B. Katehi and Michael Bloomberg, ensure that current Occupy protesters will stay energized, and that new recruits will be added to the Occupy encampments.
In related news, the Philadelphia police department also had a smaller, but similarly successful, media-focusing operation go off without a hitch.
I thought the hazmat suits were a particularly brilliant touch myself, nothing
saysscreams DFHs louder than riot cops in hazmat garb.
Tell me what you want, I’ll give you what you need.
In OKC, however, the police aren’t particularly supportive. They met with the Occupy OKC campers, and helped them move the permanent encampment to a safer location in the face of construction work across the street from the present site. They did this without making a paramilitary show of force that almost certainly would have bolstered the Occupy OKC movement.
The Chief of Police advised the city council that the use of force against people who at worst were committing a misdemeanor wasn’t good policy.
EDIT–things might change on Thursday.
The new anti-Occupy meme going around seems to be just to say “Why don’t you go to Washington and protest there because they make the laws?”
So people in congress don’t have discricts and constituents in their home states that they represent? They don’t have TV’s to see the protests? Its not like congress members would probably ever even walk by the protest area if it was in D.C. In an age where you can see anywhere in the world with the click of a button I doubt that congress can’t see anything unless you shove it in their keister. The location is unimportant, the only important things are the message it sends and the attention it gets.
Protesting in D.C. would actually get far less attention and be more easily ignored by both the media and congress. The way it is now actually lets pretty much everyone get involved. It really shows the discontent, not just people who can take the time to bus to D.C. for the weekend (much less live there). It just drives me crazy that I see that in every anti-occupy post now.
According to an acquaintance of mine, the police need hazmat suits because they are dealing with homeless, disease ridden, filthy hippy people and they don’t want to catch anything.
@cathyx: According to KTLA last night, cops were expecting to be hit with urine and feces, don’t you know, and so HAZMAT was a necessary precaution.
@Joseph Nobles: How many people keep a supply of urine and feces around the campsite that is sufficient to pelt cops just in case?
I knew the national government was messed up but the occupy protests are really showing how government at EVERY level is out of touch with the populace.
Police chiefs, mayors, university presidents. The only guy that seems to actually have a clue is the one in OKC (I imagine he is fighting tooth and nail against some d-bag at city hall to keep not doing what he’s not doing).
By out of touch I don’t mean that they kick them out. I expected that from anybody who clawed their way to some power. I mean that they are so absolutely clueless that they don’t realize sending in men in full hazmat suits looks like it came out of a distopian novel. I expected them to be assholes but I didn’t expect them to just be so (not stupid) ignorant of what people will think.
@Omnes Omnibus: Well, they just unload right where they are sitting, and so it’s always handy.
Ivan Ivanovich Renko
We don’t give a shit what you think, prole.
Cris (without an H)
Instead of a cherry picker, they should have brought a bucket loader.
Your goal should be to also get the lawmakers attention not just the media so location does matter. Most of the people in DC that need to know about income inequality get their news exclusively from conservative media outlets like FOX News. Most have been no where near a camp and breathe a sigh a relief that they aren’t.
And if out of state protesters can make it to NYC, they can make it to DC. No OWS people live in DC/Virginia/Maryland area?
My favorite is the guy holding the “Everybody knows” sign. Brilliant.
Cris (without an H)
Somebody please take my Soylent Green youtube link out of moderation
I’ve been keeping up with occupy okc through news articles. Glad to have you give us an update.
The latest report I read said something about seeking an injunction through the courts. Any news on that?
Oklahoma doesn’t have a reputation for cutting edge social activism. It’s really nice to see everyone try to remain sensible.
The police can relax. Those things are dangerous to humans only.
The official reason for the hazmat suits was the threat of gravel being thrown at the officers. Considering protesters have thrown vinegar in officers’ eyes and launched glass bottles and large rocks at cops for trying to shut down camp sites, I say the hazmat suits were a fair precaution.
Your firm grasp of what HazMat stands for leaves me in awe. I assume this would be particularly toxic gravel?
@Cris (without an H): Done.
In other words, they faked the protesters out. Everything seemed nice and cooperative as of yesterday but trusting a NYT story on this matter may not be the greatest idea.
Well, duh. Poop-laced gravel. C’mon, keep up with the latest OWS technology!
@Linda Featheringill: Well, my understanding is that the lawyers are seeking an emergency hearing the federal court for the western district of Oklahoma. They want to do this today to prevent an eviction action Thursday. I have no idea whether or not the court will hear the case.
I’ll state again that the OCPD has been pretty professional and (relatively) supportive in all of this. The city council is making noises about eviction, however. Supposedly there’s an ordinance pending in front of the council to ban camping in city parks and set a hard curfew in city parks of 11:00PM to 6:00AM.
I’m supposed to rake the gravel in our driveway this weekend. Robert, do you think I need a HazMat suit for that? Are the rocks really chemically toxic or radioactive?
Tone In DC
Cherry pickers and HazMat suits.
MLK, RFK and Thurgood Marshall are doing half-gainers in their graves.
“Considering protesters have thrown vinegar in officers’ eyes and launched glass bottles and large rocks at cops for trying to shut down camp sites, I say the hazmat suits were a fair precaution.”
You forgot the sonic ‘drum circle’ weapons, and smashing their faces against police clubs………………
Given the LAPD history that you alluded to, the fact that no skulls were cracked and no limbs were broken is pretty remarkable. Mayor Villaraigosa has done a great job of managing the LAPD response to this, and Chief Beck also deserves some credit.
From the “Only in L.A.” department (courtesy of the LA Times):
A tactic that, thankfully, was not used in Los Angeles.
I realize that the premise people are working from is that the camps shouldn’t have been broken up at all, but how exactly do you propose to safely get this guy out of his treehouse if using a cherry picker is overkill?
Personally, I’m relieved that the new management of LAPD (who is Bratton’s hand-picked successor) actually seems to be having some success in changing the LAPD’s culture. At least this time they didn’t start beating reporters as they were doing live broadcasts.
ETA: Zero reported injuries in Los Angeles, 4 reported in Philadelphia (one of them someone who got stepped on by a police horse). Why is this just as bad as Seattle, again?
I guess they don’t understand that the point of “Occupy Wall Street” is that we can all tell the power is not brokered in DC anymore, and that’s why we are going to the streets because talking to our representatives is a sad-ass waste of time.
@Omnes Omnibus: There were buckets of the stuff in the Portland occupation.
joeshabadoo and slippy: there is an Occupy DC encampment still going strong. Boston is still up and running. What is it about these towns?
There is a huge action planned for DC in March. I will go if I can. the Bloomberg article is the best requiting tool I know: