I spent most of yesterday in Westlake Park, hanging out, observing, and talking with people.
For the most part, it was actually quite enjoyable. Say what you will about the Occupy folks, but 99% of the people I encounter at their gatherings are really nice, intelligent people. I don’t necessarily agree with everything written on their signs, but the corporate greed and government corruption positions are ones that I’ve been espousing for years, way before this movement ever got started.
Of course, all of the Occupy stuff was overshadowed yesterday by a few groups of vandals.
These guys smashed windows and slashed tires at a few locations around town, but honestly, it was brief, and the damage wasn’t that bad. While local news made it appear as though there were full-scale riots in the streets, it was mostly just broken windows at a dozen or so businesses.
By the end of the day, a whopping 8 arrests, yes … eight arrests were made.
Now, don’t get me wrong. For the people working in those businesses, the few moments when their windows were getting smashed was no doubt terrifying. The glass will also be costly to replace. Given the size of the businesses that were targeted (Nike, American Apparel, etc), however, these costs can be measured in thousandths of a percent in profit. A few pennies on a pair of Air Jordans will cover the windows and then some.
More damaging than the broken windows, however, is the overshadowing of more important messages … all of which got lost in the fracas.
While we can blame the vandals for much of that lost message, I think we would be remiss if we blamed only them, because there is a much larger culprit, and that is local media. They pretend to be oh-so-outraged when the “anarchists” destroy property, but consider this:
When the anarchists splintered off from the main group at Westlake Park, what did the news crews do?
Did they stay at the park to cover the rallies? Did they get close-ups of Occupy members feeding the homeless? Or … did they follow the anarchists around like mice following the Pied Piper, waiting for the money shot?
You and I both know the answer to that question.
Local media loves vandalism. You can just feel the excitement when the bobbleheads cut to the field reporter who immediately goes into high-drama mode while describing the “pandemonium”.
When I got back home last night, I actually fell onto my bed, doubled over in laughter, after flipping on King5. Within hours of the vandalism, the station had made a new promo, and it was so silly that I just couldn’t contain myself.
“When riots broke out on the street of Downtown Seattle, King 5 was there! blah blah blah blah”, said a dramatic, baritone voice.
Oh my god, from the way they cut the video, you would think that Seattle had turned into Beirut. Wednesday morning, as I type this, they still have “continuing coverage of the May Day protests”.
Continuing coverage? Milk that cow ’til it’s dead and buried, guys, cause it may have a few drops left. And what the hell is with the Facebook and Twitter logos?
Folks, let me tell you something, if you think that our local news stations are any better, ANY BETTER morally than the street thugs who ran around smashing windows yesterday, then you’re half as bright as you think you are. If that.
If it bleeds, it leads, and neither the reporters nor the bobbleheads give a flying squirrel dick about Niketown or any other Downtown Seattle business. They could barely contain their enthusiasm when the glass began to fly.
Interestingly, yesterday, I actually saw people turning on mainstream news. I saw a few folks fling things at the cameramen, and I saw a couple of confrontations between protesters and people with huge, professional cameras.
Where once, the media was welcomed amongst protesters, I really do get the sense that they are being viewed as opportunistic parasites now, interested only in covering bad stuff, and completely uninterested in the actual causes. People aren’t as eager to have a huge camera stuck in their face anymore, and dare I say, some of them actually resent it now. It’s still somewhat subtle, but a palpable contempt and distrust for local media is developing on the streets of Seattle. At least among the protest-class.
In any event, while the broken windows got all the press (of course), the majority of May Day was actually peaceful, and it was centered around things such as worker’s rights, anti-corporate greed messages, and a general boycott of consumerism.
They’re good messages, but ones unlikely to be heard over the sounds of breaking glass and flash grenades.