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Occupy National Gathering: Perspectives on Police

Posted 2 years ago on July 20, 2012, 11:08 a.m. EST by OccupyWallSt

Last month, three Occupy Caravans traveled across the country in the three weeks leading up to Occupy National Gathering, bearing activists from San Diego, Salt Lake City, Tuscon, Wichita, Atlanta, Asheville, Boston, New Orleans, D.C., and many other cities. Roughly 1,000 Occupiers attended the gathering’s marches, workshops, visioning processes, and theatrical protest.

Despite many positives, the five-day gathering was rife with contention. Some Occupiers rejected the concept of NatGat outright, feeling that a movement geared towards autonomous action should not be centralizing around a national banner. In this vein, a group of Philadelphia anarchists organized a Radical Convergence the same weekend intended “for those who have felt Occupy in its current form demonizes and excludes radical dialogue, strategy, and action.” [Editor's note: OccupyWallSt.org loves anarchists and condemns the scapegoating of anarchists from within and without the Occupy movement.] Over the five days, these theoretical divides became manifest around issues like “step up, step back,” the goals of the movement, and tactics of confrontation.

The heavy police presence, which included officers from the Philadelphia Police Department, the National Park Service, and the Department of Homeland Security, intensified the divisions around Occupy’s relationship with the police. On June 30, Occupiers were prevented from laying down any “bedding material” at the National Historic Park near Independence Mall. In defiance, a group encircled a tent and locked arms, resulting in a prolonged clash and one arrest for assaulting a federal officer. The aftermath was just as confused — some activists joined hands and hummed “ohm,” while others shouted that the cops were Nazi pigs. An ad-hoc General Assembly to discuss next steps (where they would sleep) fell apart when several Occupiers explained that they did not feel safe discussing strategy while encircled by police.

Veterans for Peace and Occupy Marines obtained a permit to maintain a presence on Independence Mall; that permit was eventually revoked, but the riot police deployed to evict them decided to back down when the veterans held their ground. Other Occupiers spent the night on a lot graciously opened by the Quakers. On July 1, twenty-seven protesters were arrested in a nighttime jail solidarity march, raising tensions and anger further. The mini-documentary attempts to portray the internal conflict over police confrontation at the Occupy National Gathering, particularly as it relates to the future of the movement. Interviews include former Philadelphia Police Captain Ray Lewis, Native American (un)Occupy Albuquerque activist Amalia Montoya, and InterOccupy organizer Tamara Shapiro.

Submitted by Zachary Bell. For other perspectives, stories, and reportbacks from the National Gathering, check out the #NatGat section at Occupied Stories.

14 Comments

14 Comments


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[-] 1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 2 years ago

Vote out pro police state politicians, And Protest, pressure, & agitate for progressive change.

[-] 1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 2 years ago

Vote out pro police state politicians, And Protest, pressure, & agitate for progressive change.

[-] 1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 2 years ago

Vote out pro police state politicians, And Protest, pressure, & agitate for progressive change.

[-] 1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 2 years ago

Vote out pro police state politicians, And Protest, pressure, & agitate for progressive change.

[-] 1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 2 years ago

Vote out pro police state pols

[-] 1 points by bensdad (8977) 2 years ago

Non-violence never works -
ask Ghandi & Mandella & MLK
Non-violence never works

[-] 1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 2 years ago

Don't believe the hype

[-] 1 points by SteveWill (1) from Philadelphia, PA 2 years ago

Ray Lewis should be open and transparent about how he acquired a thousand acre estate in NY's Catskills at the very time the city of Philadelphia was being trashed. When he does talk about his Catskill estate he tries to paint a rosy picture, saying he was following in the footsteps of Thoreau or whoever. But Thoreau didn't swindle a whole bunch of people who didn't deserve to be prior to Walden. Being as I've known Ray my whole life, I was hoping his getting involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement was his start towards making amends for all the harm he did while as a Philadelphia police captain. But truth be said, the 1% could not have a stauncher supporter than he. Notice every time, as I do, that when you try to discuss real solutions with him he always has to go. And that's the real Ray I know. The rest is just theater.

[-] 1 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 2 years ago

Ray Lewis has my vote for how to properly represent the Occupy movement in a reasonable and direct manner. If all Occupiers had his conviction and character we would still be increasing in number and message.

The diversity of tactics that include violence, property damage, and uncivil behavior are exactly what the 1% loves to see. They know it ruins the movement. Why can't the participants involved in these tactics see that the real property damage they do is done to the structure of Occupy itself. They might as well be paid by the Koch brothers for all of the harm caused, but they do it for free.

[-] 1 points by CMaven555 (1) 2 years ago

I do highly agree with Captain (Ret.) Ray Lewis. Everyone whom is willing to participate in this important movement should acknowledge that this movement strives to be peaceful, intelligent and open; but also non-violent. Although people expressing their anger and frustration indeed helps to point out the need for social improvements, people should also take precautions to ensure their anger does not take advantage of them (leading up to an adrenalin rush) and make them crazy. Any protest that turns to violence and savagery becomes a riot.

I still have faith in this movement, and I'm confident that it is learning from its mistakes to become a better and more organized and effective movement that can inspire and fuel the improvements the world needs for the future ahead.

I also agree with Captain (Ret.) Ray Lewis that this movement needs to focus on building trust with "Mainstream America" (while of course also working to preserve its identity and philosophies) to gain support and strength. Although peaceful protesting is the heart of this Movement that keeps it alive and thriving, I do believe that promotion of this movement (and its sense and philosophy) has the potential to be its "liver and gallbladder". David Korten and Yes Magazine have stood in solidarity with this movement since its infancy; and I believe that having more experts (such as Jeremy Rifkin) and new-age organizations promote and support this movement can better bring it into “Mainstream America”, and even the classroom too (it does make sense for children to support this movement and its philosophies as well).

[-] 1 points by coal7130 (2) 2 years ago

THE ECONOMIC RIGHTS MOVEMENT is the founder of all Occupy protests, started May 1, 2010 at the University of Michigan, on the Student Union Steps. See Fb and Youtube under the same name for more details. THE ECONOMIC RIGHTS MOVEMENT MANIFESTO was delivered to The U.N. and Wall St. on July 3-4th at THE PERFECTION MARCH ON WALL STREET.

[-] 1 points by coal7130 (2) 2 years ago

THE ECONOMIC RIGHTS MOVEMENT is the founder of all Occupy protests, started May 1, 2010 at the University of Michigan, on the Student Union Steps. See Fb and Youtube under the same name for more details. THE ECONOMIC RIGHTS MOVEMENT MANIFESTO was delivered to The U.N. and Wall St. on July 3-4th at THE PERFECTION MARCH ON WALL STREET.

[-] 1 points by sufinaga (513) 2 years ago

the police see us as their enemy! the corporate group think stooges among us say the police are doing a good job. i see the issue as the prohibition of marijuana. the corporate stooges support the police stop and search. i see it is stealing marijuana and oppressing the poor (+racism) the police are the armed forces of the state. they are the psychopathic bullies of this psychopathic society. the inhumanity of this tyranny is the problem. the police have been brainwashed into seeing us as domestic terrorists so they feel justified in their evil brutality towards us. they cannot see our humanity. remember the AO Lt john pike pepper spraying the peacefully protesting students. total lack of concern for others and brutalising our children! that is how they treat us. their violence will increase as they fail to control and intimidate us. they are psychotic like their masters. they are staring total destruction in the face and are in complete denial. their delusion is crumbling. the psychotic episode is imminent. the PSYCHOPATHIC BREAKDOWN OF THE POLICE WILL BE TELEVISED!

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[-] 1 points by Revolutionary (267) 2 years ago

We the people are with the Occupy movement till we achieve our rights and end the evil.

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