Yesterday, I went by Westlake Park, and I was a bit disheartened to find that the park was still being occupied, only this time, it was being occupied by the police.
As I looked at the cop cars lined up on the concrete, I realized that the supposed 99% had been defeated by the supposed 1% yet again.
Several months ago, the wives of police officers stood on Seattle sidewalks, in front of police stations, and held up signs supporting SPD officers. As I stood and observed these demonstrations, every seventh car that drove by honked its horn.
Fast forward to last week. As I drove past Westlake Park and prepared to honk my horn, I caught notice of a protester sign which read “Do Not Honk! The Police Will Ticket You!” Sure enough, on subsequent passes, I saw police pulling over cars which had the audacity to beep in solidarity with the occupiers. I just shook my head at the entire spectacle.
Whatever fear the protesters may have instilled in the powers-that-be had been completely exhausted. Now, those same powers were simply having their way with the “occupiers”, and I felt a little bit embarrassed for all of them. For all of us.
Here’s the thing I don’t understand about Occupy Seattle, and the thing I will probably never understand about Occupy Seattle:
They ask permission.
Before rallying, before marching, before doing anything … they first ask the government for permission. The same government they concede has been bought and paid for by the 1%. The same government that pays men to wear blue uniforms to protect the interests of those 1%.
The protesters ask permission from these very people before doing anything.
And this is supposed to be effective?
What if the colonists had asked the King’s permission before dumping tea in Boston Harbor?
Imagine what would have happened had Egyptians asked for permission to protest?
While I largely agree with the messages I’ve seen from this group, in my opinion, the Seattle segment of the movement has come across as more of a hissy fit than a revolt.
A sad fact of human psychology is that respect = fear. Fear is the reason I pull over when a police officer turns on his lights or gives me a command. I fear being shot or locked in a cage if I fail to comply.
The fact of the matter is, nobody fears Occupy Seattle. Rightly or wrongly, they are seen as a group of obedient, Obama-worshipping white folks who will head back over the 520 bridge the moment things get a little too authentic.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not exactly my perception. I’ve spent a couple of hours in the park over the past two weeks, and I’ve met some really great people who have given me hope that the collective IQ of America may not be as low as I had feared.
What I haven’t met, however, are many 40 year-old plaid-wearing mill workers from Aberdeen. I haven’t spotted many laid-off black folks from Rainier Valley. I’ve seen hundreds of white, twenty-something college kids, but most other demographics have been conspicuously absent. This is a shame, as those in power have very little fear of white, twenty-something college kids.
Don’t get me wrong, I still support the protesters, but this particular brand of civil obedience is coming across as more performance art than revolution.
Until the working class gets behind this movement; until people stop feeding the corporations that hurt us; until the protesters stop asking permission — I think the respect they need to invoke real change will be hard to come by.