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Forum Post: An Opinion on OWS Violence

Posted 6 years ago on Nov. 4, 2011, 1:04 p.m. EST by JonoLith (467)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

The Occupy Movement has stated that it is Non-Violent. While this has remained overwhelmingly true, there is, undeniably, a violent element that is using OWS as a place to hide. Smashed windows, paint on buildings, and even horrifically violent stories of rape are coming out of the encampments.

The truth of it is that once any kind of violent element emerges from the movement, the movement ceases to be about stopping corruption and greed and becomes a movement about stopping violence. This simply must be the case. People will look at the violence within our movement and point to it in order to damn us. Therefore, when violence happens from the movement, we must pause and deal with it before we do anything else.

What this means is that there must be an expectation of self enforcement. We have little difficulty standing in front of a police barricade and shouting “Shame Shame Shame” to Police officers who overstep their bounds, and abuse their power. What we haven’t come to realize is that we too have power that we can abuse, and some of us do abuse that power.

The moment a person engages in a violent act, they are no longer part of the movement. They are part of the problem. Even more then that, they are the most important problem. If you have gathered in order to protest a banking institution, or a government official, that protest ceases and you should begin protesting against their violent act, instantly. You should be accepting that the protest is capable of changing in this regard, as internal violence is even more dangerous then external violence.

If you see someone spraying paint on the side of a building, you should stop and begin crying “Shame Shame Shame” at them. Whip out those video cameras. Condemn their Violence. Do not allow them to hide in our numbers.

Go even farther. Give the videos of the individuals who do violence to the Police. Report the violence to the media outlets directly. Show those institutions how hard we are working to destroy violence internally. Build a trust between yourselves and those who enforce and report on these things.

Go even farther. Publicly condemn all violence done by your movement, and by others to your movement. This should be topic one in all General Assemblies; to create a statement that you can give to all media outlets condemning the violence done. This should be done every single time a violent act happens that is even remotely connected to the movement. We must show the world that we are entirely intolerant of violence, in all forms. We must show the world that we are more then willing to work with them in order to shine a light on our own internal violence.

Go Even Farther. Set up a working group to educate people about what Non-Violence is. Create a Library filled with works that show Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Make us the primary source of Non-Violent Education.

This movement cannot become perceived as a violent movement. That should be the number one goal, before anything else. Violence is catalyzing and shocking. We need to respond to it with equal fervour, while remaining entirely Non-Violent. We must be able to stand our ground and say to those who detract “We have worked hard with Police Officials and Media outlets to destroy our own violence. We have released statement after statement condemning each individual act of violence. We have turned violent offenders over to Police Officials, and made those people known to all. What more would you like?”

If we are to say we are Non-Violent, we must fight to prove it.



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[-] 3 points by ToddDunning (89) from Aliso Viejo, CA 6 years ago

JonoLith, an excellent idea and post. But too late. There are not enough people like you in the movement, and that's pretty clear to the public too unfortunately.

[-] 2 points by JonoLith (467) 6 years ago

It's never too late. Remember, this movement's been around for less then two months. That's an almost insignificant amount of time. The declaration of independence was written in 1776. It wasn't until 1789 that the first American President was voted into office.

That's thirteen years. We've been around for less then two months. Give us a moment to breathe.

[-] 2 points by canank (2) 6 years ago

I know criminals are violent. I know elites are violent. I know the rest of the people are non-violent. I know criminals and elites are the minority. I know elites can pay for others to not protest or to create violence in protests. But they cannot pay for the majority to do that all the time, it is unsustainable. Therefore, keep on protesting. There will always be violence caused by other people. Keep on protesting until the elites fall. Keep on protesting until you see justice.

[-] 1 points by ARod1993 (2420) 6 years ago

This is one of those lovely times where it really doesn't matter who's making trouble. If we catch someone spraypainting things or picking fights or making other kinds of trouble, they need to be forcibly unmasked (if they're wearing masks), restrained, photographed, handed to the cops, and maybe shown the sidewalk a couple of times if thy're repeat offenders. The photos need to go on some sort of easily accessible online blacklist so that it is clear both to OWS GAs and to the public at large that these people are not part of the movement and are banned from our spaces, marches, etc.

When people see us either on top of, laying into, or dragging away provocateurs and vandals it will be quite clear to them that OWS does not believe in open lawlessness and that will go a long way with the ordinary guy who doesn't follow us too carefully. If they're black bloc or whatever then their first taste of actual violence against them will probably cause them to reconsider their approach. If it's cops or infiltrators, then maybe when the officers come in the next morning looking like they lost a fight with Mike Tyson the station chief will think twice about sending them out there to riot.

[-] 0 points by JonoLith (467) 6 years ago

I really must stress; Violence is not going to be the answer here. We live in an era where information is more important and damning then anything. Your goal should be to shine light on those who would do Violence, not to Violently oppose them.

[-] 1 points by newrain (16) 6 years ago

Wonderful!!!! This is what I was asking for! I am so proud of you. I'm going to post this on all my Facebook pages, and put links every place I can find. Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this. My faith in this movement has been completely restored.

[-] 1 points by JonoLith (467) 6 years ago

Thank you newrain for posting this for me! You have inspired me to keep writing posts like this one.

Live in Peace!

[-] 1 points by jph (2652) 6 years ago

provocateurs are the only source violence I have seen,. beside the cops.

[-] 1 points by Teacher (469) 6 years ago

Here here

[-] 1 points by derek (302) 6 years ago

Please read this essay by G. William Domhoff that agrees with your points and goes into much detail on why you are right to call for OWS to condemn the violence: http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/change/science_nonviolence.html

[-] 1 points by JonoLith (467) 6 years ago

Thanks for the link!

[-] 1 points by derek (302) 6 years ago

You are welcome. I see that site is down all of a sudden. Here is an archived link: http://web.archive.org/web/20101205055529/http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/change/science_nonviolence.html

I'm glad to read some articles like the following, which are a big step in the right direction: http://www.pressherald.com/news/occupy-maine-emphasizes-nonviolence_2011-11-04.html "John Schreiber, a baker from Portland who is involved with the Occupy Maine movement, said, "I hope it (violence) doesn't happen here. So far things have been relatively peaceful. "Part of our message is people can work together," he said. "We don't need to be violent to get our message across.""

There is more such stuff out there right now: http://www.google.com/#q=occupy+wall+street+non-violence

Another OWS thread: http://occupywallst.org/forum/what-benefit-is-occupy-wall-street-nonviolence/

[-] 1 points by JeffreyCH (6) from Lincoln, NE 6 years ago

There has been a lot of rage and frustration building in this country for decades. As this spills out onto the streets, the ones who express this rage and frustration with violence must be educated in positive ways to vent those feelings. Simply abolishing those violent factions does nothing but sweep the problem under the rug. These people need to learn that their voices can be heard without resorting to violence.

[-] 1 points by JonoLith (467) 6 years ago

I do agree with you here. It isn't enough to enforce non-violence, people must understand the history of non-violence. Gandhi and King.

I'm actually going to edit my post to reflect this.

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 6 years ago

"his is my view of the protest march downtown Athens during the general strike of February 23rd. It is a sequence of pictures and small videos in the exact order they were recorded in my camera from 12:00 to 14:30pm, so you figure out what happened. I read the BBC news reporting 30.000 people protesting. That's a laugh! Most probably somewhere between 100.000 and 200.000 thousand... Workers, civil servants, retired, unemployed, teachers, professors, students, everybody was there, and most of the rest wish they were. The march was interrupted many times by provoked clash between the usual hot blooded company and the police, who grabbed the opportunity to make excessive use of tear gas, just to make sure the Syntagma (Constitution) square in front of the Parliament would remain empty for the cameras. However, there were so many people coming into the square that it kept filling up again and again. The Union of journalists, sold out to the government, went on strike just the same day of the general strike in Greece, so you 'll see no news reports on this one, as usual. "

Protest in Athens Greece 2011-02-23 General strike - Which side are you on?


[-] 1 points by missjulz (5) 6 years ago

The problem is: Oakland has not adopted a position of non-violence and is very wary of doing so. many of us are leaving on account of it. Would hope that OWS would help the majority of us in Oakland whose group is being pressured to accept violence by withholding any future funding for Oakland until they become consistent with the original OWS statement of nonviolence. Otherwise, I will not be able to donate financially to OWS either. I don't want my funds going to Occupy Oakland anymore. Until they declare explicitly that they are nonviolent. The extremists have taken over in Oakland.

[-] 1 points by JonoLith (467) 6 years ago

This is extremely disheartening to hear. For this movement to be successful it must remain non-violent. I would strongly agree with your recommendation that until the Occupy Oakland movement immediately adopts the policy of Non-Violence, it should be cut off from the community.

Violence cannot be tolerated. It is the greatest enemy.

[-] 1 points by missjulz (5) 6 years ago

I wish OWS would put out a statement to that effect. We've been hijacked over here, we are very sad, very discouraged these days after an absolutely incredible day, they erased it all. Public support is dying, it's coming to an end here. If the police take away the camp no one is going to now come the next day to help bring it back. And I was one of those to show up after the first raid. I would not go back now and help re-establish another camp. thinking of starting a camp elsewhere in Oakland, calling ourselves the Nonviolent 99.

[-] 1 points by derek (302) 6 years ago

To support the non-violence approach you outline, you can find lots of information about "Social Movements and Strategic Nonviolence" in this essay: http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/change/science_nonviolence.html

You are absolutely right (for the reasons mentioned at that link) that OWS needs to put out a statement condemning the violence.

[-] 1 points by JonoLith (467) 6 years ago

Missjulz... This needs to be brought up at the Oakland General Assembly. It must be put before them to stop. You need to gather up as many people as you can and you need to make it clear to the General Assembly, if the violence continues, it will fracture the group. Make it clear. Make it loud.

"If this movement does not advocate non-violence, we are leaving." You will find that you have more support then you realize.

[-] 1 points by missjulz (5) 6 years ago

I drafted a resolution to that end and a group of us are working on the final draft. We do plan to put it to a vote, started a separate fb page and have about 70 joined in with support. We shall see. The equivocation on the use of "diversity of tactics" has been inadequate. if we don't unequivocally condemn destruction and violence many of us will leave.

[-] 1 points by derek (302) 6 years ago

From the link previously mentioned: http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/change/science_nonviolence.html "Even after Genoa, there was a desire for increasing tactical militancy at the same time that more and more nonviolent groups were expressing an interest in supporting the global justice movement. According to L.A. Kauffman, the idea of a "diversity of tactics" emerged as a way to reconcile these two tendencies. ... When 50,000 members of the global justice movement met in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in January, 2002, in the aftermath of the death in Genoa and the terrorist attack of September 11th, there were some second thoughts about the productiveness of property damage and confrontations with police, but by then it was too late. A reporter from The Nation wrote that the movement was at a low ebb once again due to the violence: "It would be disingenuous to deny that the US movement faces serious roadblocks. The blue-green coalition has frayed, and tension between much of organized labor and the rest of the movement is real. 'The biggest problem inside the Seattle coalition isn't the [anti-terrorist] war,' said one key US activist. 'The problem is around those who want to use violence.'" The correspondent also quoted a European environmentalist to make the same point: "Too often we get dragged into a swamp debating what is euphemistically called 'diversity of tactics.' Now we need to speak up and say clearly that violence, as a political tactic, just doesn't work either in the United States or in Europe." The shocking terrorist attacks of September 11th, coming just six weeks after Genoa, add to the likelihood that any type of property destruction or confrontations with police at future demonstrations will be highly counterproductive. Such attacks would anger the overwhelming majority of Americans and meet with strong repression on the part of the government. Reassessment therefore becomes a necessity, providing an opportunity for a new start based on the realization that the property destruction and physical attacks on the police of the previous few years led the movement into a dead end. In democratic countries, social movements need to be based on a commitment to the strategic, nonviolent forms of direct action discussed throughout this document. Such a commitment leaves plenty of room to disrupt routines and get in the way of power without dividing the movement and alienating potential supporters, and it is far more effective in the long run. ... Most leftists thus prefer to deal with those who favor property damage or armed struggle by ignoring them or making deals with them within the privacy of the movement. That's what the nonviolent activists tried at Seattle. That's what the compromise called "diversity of tactics" is all about. But it won't work. At the same time, it is likely that most future activists would accept strategic nonviolence as their only option if they were socialized into a movement that truly believed in and understand this commitment."

[-] 1 points by JonoLith (467) 6 years ago

Be Bold! Be Brave! Be Brazen! B Words!

In all seriousness, what you are doing is very brave, and I applaud you greatly. Seventy people is a lot of people, and I believe you will succeed. I'll pray for your success, and if you aren't Religious, then I wish you all the best!

In all sincerity, please let me know how it goes. A victory in Oakland is a victory for us all!

[-] 1 points by amen88 (173) 6 years ago

"We have turned violent offenders over to Police Officials"

this is a very good thing to do.

[-] 1 points by amen88 (173) 6 years ago

amen to this!!!

The moment a person engages in a violent act, they are no longer part of the movement. They are part of the problem. Even more then that, they are the most important problem. If you have gathered in order to protest a banking institution, or a government official, that protest ceases and you should begin protesting against their violent act, instantly. You should be accepting that the protest is capable of changing in this regard, as internal violence is even more dangerous then external violence.

[-] 1 points by WatTyler (263) 6 years ago

I agree. Violence will destroy this movement faster than anything else could. But even worse, it would serve to discredit the ideas with which the movement is associated. And that would be a tragedy because it is in ideas that the greatest power lies.

[-] 1 points by JonoLith (467) 6 years ago

This is why I make this call. Violence is the prime enemy. When it shows up, we must deal with it sharply, but Non-Violently.

[-] 0 points by Rob (881) 6 years ago

bringing a marshmallow to fist fight? maybe a dirty look?

[-] 1 points by JonoLith (467) 6 years ago

Or a camera.

[-] 0 points by Rob (881) 6 years ago

What are you going to do, take a picture of an OWSr starting a fight? Your side are the ones starting the problems in Oakland. OWS is trying to divorce itself of the anarchist element of the movement, but are they not part of the 99% as well? you welcomed these cretins in with open arms and now it is your problem and they do represent you, like it or not. BTW, digital photos are not admissible in a court of law because they are easily altered so don't try and post any photos because they are not to be believed.

[-] 1 points by JonoLith (467) 6 years ago

I don't think your statement that digital photos aren't admissible is correct.

I was also meaning Video Camera.

And let's talk about Oakland. There is no video evidence of OWS doing anything that would even remotely begin to justify the excessive use of force displayed by the police.

We are told protesters were throwing rocks, and yet where is the video of it? Didn't they have helicopters in the sky? Didn't they have their own surveillance equipment there? If OWS is responsible for starting it, where's the video?

And you're telling me that even if it was true, that the protesters were throwing rocks and debris, the proper response is what we saw? The proper response is to use as much force as possible without actually killing people?

And yet they still managed to hospitalize a Two Time Iraqi War Vet. Is this Justice?

[-] 1 points by missjulz (5) 6 years ago

Many in the Occupy Oakland movement embrace strategies of violence and especially of vandalism. Just go to the facebook page and read the comments. The movement in Oakland has been hijacked and the OO movement refused to condemn such acts. Hence, many of us are no longer in support. Very sad.

[-] 0 points by Rob (881) 6 years ago

I have been involved in a court case, digital photos are not allowed for the reason I stated. Second, I do not think the police acted too harsh, as a matter of fact I think they went to easy. They should have used bulldozers to push those idiots into the bay. Scott Olson should have ducked, or at the very least complied with the request to disperse. Instead he chose to stand like a tree and we know the result. You and OWS need to grow up, put your big people clothes on and become a productive member of society.

[-] 1 points by JonoLith (467) 6 years ago

I'm sorry you live in a world of hate. I hope things improve for you.


[-] 1 points by JonoLith (467) 6 years ago

I agree with you. If we are all God's creation, God's Children, then we should treat each other with dignity and respect regardless of the color of our skin.

Racism is Violence.


[-] 0 points by stevo (314) 6 years ago

Let me get this straight. At various gatherings of the peace lovers around the country, there have been, clubbings, bonfires lit, tear gassing, assaults, windows smashed, cars busted, and rapes, and the idiot Jonolith starts his forum with ..."The Occupy Movement has stated that it is Non-Violent".

Why yes...we clearly see it's a non-violent movement. Freaking chucklehead

[-] 1 points by JonoLith (467) 6 years ago

I'm sorry you live in a world of hate. I'm sorry you feel the need to spread that hate here. I hope things improve for you.

[-] 0 points by stevo (314) 6 years ago

You are spreading the hate Moron. Oakland..now DC...You want violence. And you'll get it


[-] 0 points by aquainted (268) 6 years ago

On the other hand, 911 alone justifies an all out civil war, so violence or no violence the ows is justified and moves ahead.

[-] 1 points by preOccupied (3) 6 years ago

If so, then be a real man and start your own movement. Reach out to your community and draw supporters in with your own great ideas and efforts, and maybe you'll have your own high-flying movement. Stick to your own agenda. But in this case, attaching yourself to the hard work of others in such a way as to weaken that organization's goals is, well, parasitic.

[-] 0 points by aquainted (268) 6 years ago

It is the same group that did 911 and runs the government through the fed. How can these not be joined is the real question. It is the big money that did 911 so they could make money in Iraq and through the middle east. You just are not seeing the big picture. Once you kill one fool, you might as well kill a million. And these insiders kill all the time in the name of "National Interests..." Please wake up.

[-] 1 points by JonoLith (467) 6 years ago

Leave insane, meaningless, and ridiculous Conspiracy Theories out of this please.

[-] 0 points by aquainted (268) 6 years ago

You need to do your research. There is no doubt that 911 was an inside job, and that it was an attack upon Americans, mass murder, a conspiracy of the highest order involving the highest members of the Whitehouse. So it remains on the table. Especially in New York!