GOP Presidential candidate Buddy Roemer recently said “the mayor of New York City is standing on the wrong side of history.” It sounds so strange coming out of the mouth of a republican. But is he right? He explained his view by comparing Occupy Wall Street to other civil rights movements, movements that were ultimately successful, and that by using the NYPD to smash down protests around the city, Mayor Bloomberg was making a mistake.
Roemer goes on to say that “these young people of Occupy Wall Street have my total support.” Could the OWS movement be more politically aligned with the GOP? Or, rather, could it be what brings a Republican candidate out from the cold and into the White House?
Probably not. Almost certainly not. Because of all the footage I have seen of OWS protests I have yet to see anyone in that movement directly blaming Obama. During the Bush years protests were almost always directed against Bush. And when the TEA party came into existence it was in opposition to Obama. But for some reason the OWS movement hasn’t gone after Obama, or any politician in particular. They have a sort of raw anger that no one person can be the sole target of.
The problem with this is that the raw anger is going to be directed somewhere. And the police are becoming the target of that anger. You might think they are just doing their jobs, but check out this page for updates on all the journalists that have been arrested for just doing their jobs. The best estimate right now has 26 reporters arrested for reporting on OWS so far. The thing about arresting reporters is that they often have cameras or camera people with them:
That woman that got grabbed and thrown to the ground was journalist Stephanie Pharr. You can see her trying to take a picture of the approaching police as they grab her, without warning. (Editors Note: Sometimes these videos don’t load the first time you load the page, if you can’t see them hit refresh and they should come up)
And that was Jared Malsin, identifying himself as a reporter and showing his credentials.
And two Fox reporters getting pepper sprayed and beaten with batons.
Those are just a few of the reporters. When you read through their accounts they almost always identified themselves and were violently assaulted by the police just for trying to cover a major news story. Mayor Bloomberg admits that of the 26 (many of whom were arrested in other states) at least 5 had press passes issued by the NYPD to be there. They were authorized to be there and still arrested. Just for doing their jobs.
It would seem Roemer is right about Bloomberg. Occupy Wall Street isn’t going to go away just because of a few clashes with the police, and reporters aren’t going to stop reporting on it just because they might get arrested or thrown to the ground a few times.
I like to believe in an America where the freedom of the press is one of our most protected principles. It is protected when people are taking pictures of celebrities in their sweatpants and selling those photos for hundreds of dollars. For some reason the police don’t think it should be protected when they have a real problem on hand.
They can’t shut down the press, and with the internet and video cameras in everyone’s cell phones you can’t stop information from getting out. Now is the time to prove that we don’t have anything to hide, and that the round ups of protesters is being done above the board, at least legally speaking. The government has a chance to prove that it has learned from the mistakes made in the 60′s, and I’d like to see them start proving they’ve learned before the National Guard shows up.