When the American public watched televised scenes of non-violent black marchers being attacked by baton-wielding police and their dogs in the 1950s south, the public’s disgust virtually assured the end of the Jim Crow era.
When students at Kent State University were shot by National Guard troops for demonstrating against the Vietnam War, public outrage made the end of the war inevitable.
So what are we to make of the general indifference our citizens have shown toward the police brutality at Occupy Wall Street demonstrations?
If you havent been paying attention, New York police have routinely emptied pepper spray containers in the faces of non-violent demonstrators before hauling them off to jail. During one example of police brutality, an Iraq veteran confronted officers by asking, Why are you doing this? You are supposed to be serving our citizens. He went on to explain that he was in the Military Police in Iraq, and the military never treated Iraqis this way.
On the other side of the country, witnesses say another Iraq veteran was critically injured by police as he was demonstrating against Wall Street and the 1%. The Oakland, California police claim they were merely breaking up the demonstration with the use of rubber bullets and tear gas canisters because of unsafe sanitary conditions.
In other words, we gassed and beat you to ensure your safety!
Despite these horrible incidents, most of our citizens (particularly Teapublicans) have reacted with a collective ho-hum. Why? Perhaps its because scenes of police abusing demonstrators have become common-place.
Our Constitution guarantees the right to assembly and free speech. Yet many in Congress, the media, and our increasingly militarized city police departments seem to have conveniently forgotten that.
Instead, they blame the protestors for police violence.
Its time for all US citizens to look at the police violence and ask, Is this the future of our country? Are we now willing to accept brutality from Kevlar helmeted police armed with tear gas, assault rifles and even tanks? Are we willing to concede that corporations have freedom of speech, but ordinary citizens do not? Is it okay for big corporate interests to bankrupt our economy, ask the government to bail them out then pay themselves millions in bonuses with taxpayer money? Are we okay with living in a police state?
And if the answers are yes, what can we expect in the future? Scenes similar to the military crackdown in Syria? Threats by our own Gaddafis to kill protestors like rats? Or a US citizen blocking a column of US tanks in a futile attempt to stop a violent attack on peaceful protestors? Where does it stop?