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as in media, class, and movements - by Jen Schradie

Jen Schradie

Jen Schradie
Oakland, California, United States
October 02
Academic Blogger
UC Berkeley
Bio UC Berkeley sociology doctoral candidate, new media researcher, digital democracy zetetic, recovering documentary filmmaker, & occasional ashtanga yoga teacher


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DECEMBER 18, 2011 11:05AM

Arrested Development - Occupy Style

Rate: 4 Flag

Not Just a Bunch of Hippy Anarchist College Students 

Among the six of us, we have 15 kids. Meeting for the first time, we sat on the bench talking about our children. I have two, I said. Derrick has one daughter. Roger said he had four while Patrick boasted of eight children. No, this wasn’t at a park or a playground. This was on a Wake County, North Carolina Jail bench after having been arrested after an Occupy Raleigh protest.

According to the online site Occupy Arrests Project, the occupy movement has witnessed 5607 arrests to date.  Not since the Vietnam anti-war era have political protests yielded this number of arrests. Most of the media conversations about the Occupy arrests have focused on the possible orchestration of the crackdowns or an intensification of a police state. However, what has also been remarkable is that a broad spectrum of people is willing to push the limits and face arrests and police brutality.

Patrick O'Neal with his daughter Mary Evelyn at an Occupy Raleigh Protest at the Crabtree Valley Mall on Black Friday 

I did not anticipate my arrest on Black Friday. I had survived protests and strikes at Occupy Oakland and at Occupy Cal in Berkeley without injury or arrest, so I was not expecting any confrontations with mall cops. I was videotaping an Occupy Raleigh protest at the Crabtree Valley Mall while in North Carolina for my dissertation research.  One of my co-defendants, Patrick O’Neal, 55, went onto the very stage in the sprawling food court where his children would be performing Christmas music two weeks later. He had his daughter, Mary Evelyn, 6, on his shoulders, and started talking to food court diners about the Occupy Movement. Soon after, the crowd, including many shoppers, started clapping and chanting, “Human need, not corporate greed” and “We are the 99%.” 

Other protesters went up on the stage to join O’Neal. The mall cops then approached the stage, along with the Raleigh city police. Without even being asked, the protesters immediately stepped off of the stage and walked out of the mall with the officers, expecting a simple warning. However, police officers handcuffed me and five others, including two people who had not participated at all. I videotaped most of the event, including O’Neal putting his hands against the outside wall with his daughter still on his shoulders.

Many of us have seen the iconic photos of these confrontations, such as the 84 year old woman with a teargased face from Occupy Seattle or the former police chief from Philadelphia arrested at Occupy Wall Street.  Americans feel emboldened. Yet, it’s not just the stereotypical young anarchist. Certainly, college students have played a critical role in liberation movements around the world by being in a position to take more risks, and they certainly are putting their lives on the line now. But the Occupy movement has reached a broader constituency than the young. As O’Neal, my co-defendent joked, “A family that gets arrested together stays together.” However, the risks are real, as one of my co-defendants worried whether or not the company he worked for would retaliate against him for the arrest.

The diversity of people willing to face arrest has led to even more people supporting the occupy movement. For instance, the publicity around two-time Iraq War Veteran Scott Olson, one of the first of many victims of police repression, triggered a groundswell of support for the Occupy Oakland movement to take to the streets. A shrine, a Web site, and countless signs honored this sacrifice. In other words, the viral videos of the repression, such as the University of California – Berkeley baton crackdown on students linking arms or the meme sensation of University of California—Davis teargasing, have only strengthened more participants’ resolve to engage in civil disobedience.

The west coast port shut-downs this past week inspired a lively debate at the Port of Oakland during an impromptu General Assembly (GA) on whether or not to continue the port blockade to protest police attacks on activists at other ports. The GA voted to shut down the port for another shift in response to the brutality.

Repression has done anything but stem the tide of the Occupy movement. For instance, campus police violent reaction to a UC Berkeley encampment created a response that went much further than the few laughs from Stephen Colbert’a quip, “When they say it's crunchy, I didn't realize they meant students' rib cages.” Instead, it triggered an enormous amount of support around campus and the world. During the night-time beatings, I was at an Occupy Oakland General Assembly debating, of all things, non-violent tactics. I received tweets and texts of the brutality. I quickly left the GA with a few people to head over to the UC Berkeley campus to support my fellow students. The response that night was overwhelming. I saw crowds swell from a few hundred at 9pm to a few thousand by 11 pm. It was not just students who showed up but other Bay Area citizens, as well. I spoke to a school teacher who said, “I just had to come and show my support.”

That night, the Occupy Cal GA voted to strike the following week. One key difference I noted between the subsequent strike actions and previous demonstrations against fee hikes from the past three years is that it was not just the social science and humanities students participating. People showed up from the hard sciences, often buffered from budget cuts because of corporate donations. Moreover, at the strike, many of the signs reflected the outrage against the brutality, not just the economic issues. One read, “demographers against police brutality.”

Sociologist Jeff Goodwin argues that the level of state repression is in direct proportion to revolutionary participation. In other words, more repression leads to more participation. Other theorists, though, argue that if the rate of repression gets too high, participation wanes. Nonetheless, I’m baffled why the Department of Homeland security hasn’t read social movement theory to know that the Occupy movement has touched a nerve and repressive attempts to put out the fire will only make it spread more.

The civil disobedience people are now willing to take varies in risk. I recently met with some Occupy Raleigh and Occupy Chapel Hill protesters who wanted to learn from Occupy Oakland. But I think limits are being pushed pretty far already in North Carolina – from arrests at a shopping mall and taking over an abandoned building to posting signs up on the pristine Capitol steps (read Confederate symbol) and marching without a permit and blocking traffic in Chapel Hill.  Yet just because a port hasn’t been shut down or a General Strike hasn’t been called doesn’t mean actions aren’t bold defiance. I was just one of 33 arrests in Raleigh so far.

Perhaps, though, I had been out of the South for too long, as North Carolina was my home for 15 years. I didn’t think twice about videotaping protesters in a shopping mall. As a former documentary filmmaker, I had shot footage in the jungle of the Philippines with the New People’s Army. Maybe the mall, the epitome of American capitalism, is more of a tipping point then I thought. Alas, though, after being released from jail that night with the promise to return for a January court date, I went to explain my arrest to my children. My son, age 8, said, “If they put you back in jail, Mommy, I’m going to do something to get back at them.” Exactly.


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i argue, in various posts, that an organized voting campaign, or actually 'non-voting campaign,' followed by the numbers of people involved in ows of voting age, would get better results.

'protest' without a single focus is meaningless, just a child's tantrum or cattle stampede.

considering that the result of the vietnam protests had the only visible result of electing richard nixon, maybe you should give some thought to getting off the street, and into the dnc 'inbox.'
Thank you Jen. Rated. Al, if you can't recognize the focus of OWS you just aren't listening. Getting into the DNC's inbox won't do any good. We need to do just as we're doing, worrying the 1% to death.
The old do not get it. This is the USA of the future, the young are getting a street fighter's education on how to become political, when you consider that the movement is only six months old and the fear of some 1% it is a success. It will result in many young politicans improving the system, without the polyscience degree that teach the status que
I'm amazed at the overreach on the part of the police and other law enforcement agencies. You know that, in some states, you can sue for unlawful arrest. It's well within the realm of possibility that each person arrested here could simply file a suit. That would be very, very interesting to watch.

As for the violence that can erupt from this type of treatment, I am concerned about that possibility. What the law enforcement and government agencies are doing is violent, even if it doesn't always come with hits and shots. Violence could conceivably be met with violence. I do not support that, but someone might. It's worrisome. Also, I think we're seeing some COINTELPRO the Second ongoing in Oakland, absolutely.

As for the constant suggestions of what OWS should do, yeah, you're missing what's being done. Take another look. Think about it a bit more.
Listen, I'm not against a certain amount of direct action public protests...civil disobedience, funny, satirical posters, comments, tweaks of the nose of authority. But you are forgetting something crucial. If you could have taken a vote count of all the people in the mall...shoppers, workers, etc. I bet the majority did NOT want the disruption that you Occupy protesters had caused. Getting the majority on your side will not be my most recent post...wink
And one more thing. If you people can get more and more supporters then go ahead and just DO IT! This is not a police state. All those people in the shopping mall, you can get them to a huge rally, on private property somewhere, to get them active in the community, to talk to more and more people, and especially with the Internet, you should be able to get huge numbers to turn out and change the political environment of the country. Fact is you can't do that, nowhere close. Huge numbers of those mall shoppers, and everywhere else, will vote Republikan, or conventional Democrat. The 1% is not scared of you at're like water fleas, pretty irrelevant to the political process.
Actually, Jejune, we're all American citizens exercising our rights.

If you are against that, why don't you find a nice totalitarian government where you can go? Otherwise, maybe you should take your patronizing and completely un-American viewpoints and stick them squarely up your ass. :)

Just a thought. Have a nice day!
PS--The name 'Jejune' fits you super well! Good work on picking it!
roulettewheel...of course protesters have civil rights. I'm all for that. I was merely making the reasonable observation that, if you people indeed had the support you fantasize you have, that the people in that shopping mall would have been rallying to the side of the protesters en masse. The fact that they did not, and in other venues also will continue to look at you with skepticism, is not the fault of a 'repressive police state' or any such nonsense. It is because the majority of the population remain conventional and will continue to vote Republikan or Democrat. What part of that simple analysis are you too retarded to understand?
::shrugging:: I'm not "retarded" or correctly stated, or have no neurological or physical impairments to limit the function of my ability to think. You deserved a pretty sharp rebuke for your patronizing and ugly statements. When you call fellow Americans 'fleas,' implying that they suck on the rich 1% or when you insult others for using their Constitutional rights, yes, I think your personality needs a bit of work. More correctly stated, I think you haven't a clue about anything good or real or true and are so full of your own overblown unrealistic take on your own worth that you can't see anything beyond the end of your own nose. I should feel sorry for you, but people like you disgust me. Good people are trying to do good things for their country. They want representation in Congress again. That's something that we should all have. If you can't understand that, the problem doesn't lie with them, as you so imagine, but in a closer place, with yourself.

Reading the Constitution would be helpful for you, I imagine, if you have questions about how those processes work instead of coming here and trying to imply your limitations of understanding are someone else's fault. Your continued use of 'you people' is weird as well. Either you aren't American, in which case I might cut you a bit of slack, or you so clearly don't understand American processes that you have to distance yourself from them, in order to attempt to do so. Perhaps a civics class would be helpful?

Of course, your tone is also a way to seem superior, but it's my experience that those who attempt to make themselves superior are far below the standard. You don't disappoint in that regard, certainly.

Let me give YOU a tip. If you don't agree with something, that's fine. Say so. Be direct. If you don't understand something, realize that's your problem, so you should be respectful when asking. Most of us learn that in kindergarten. If you need to feel superior, go get some counseling. Attempting to place yourself in some sort of hierarchy of privileged understanding really only makes you look both mean and weak. In other words, your ego is out of control. It might be time to take inventory of that. People are suffering and worried and scared. Your attitude of distanced superiority makes you look like a fool, in times like these.
roulettewheel, I can see how angry you are. You're not angry at me, I'm only one android...wink, you're angry at the general APATHY of the rest of society. I told you something simple moron. If, as you claim, there are HUGE numbers of people feeling like you and the Occupiers, THEN there would be MUCH larger public displays of support....the onlookers and employees in the shopping mall in the story here would have come over en masse to the demonstrators. There would be many more cops and security guards who would be refusing to enforce the orders from their evil capitalist superiors. Have you heard of the Arab Spring moron? In those previously repressed societies GIGANTIC numbers of people demonstrate because they can't stand it any more. In the US there is nothing comparable going on. The labor unions are NOT marching en masse because their members are going along with status quo politics, hoping the Democrats win more power and hypocritically engage in the old dirty deal-making...NOT transformational change. Occupy is a teeny-tiny blip, like fleas, exactly. A hiccup...hic...wink
Odette: JP isn't an American at all, he's Canadian. More importantly, he's a fecal-minded little fuck who's not worth engaging in conversation with as if he was a real person. The sad thing about Jejune Podiatrist is, if you talk to him like he was a human, or even if you only address him with the same respect he accords to others - which is to say, none - you've already wasted too much time on his asinine self.
Every time nana gits mad it's becuz one of his sacred cows iz being gored. Why can't any of you morons address the ISSUE at hand, which is, that the majority of voters will continue to support the conventional parties, Democrat and Republican. Especially in the Red states the Republicans will keep on winning. Is that my fault? I'm just pointing out the reality and you are all so frustrated with that uncomfortable reality that you want to shoot the messenger. Well, that's your problem.
broad spectrum of people is willing to push the limits and face arrests and police promotion
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We need to do just as we're doing, worrying the 1% to death.Fors Liebherr
should give some thought to getting off the street, and into the dnc 'inbox.'
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He’s just like an extreme right-winger Tea party lover and that’s why he gets my vote for hacker of the year.

You’ve got a great deal to say about this subject, and so much knowledge.
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