As I watch countless videos of elders and youth getting physically attacked by police forces during peaceful Occupy protests, my stomach tightens and I feel sick. I ask myself to what extent is the U.S truly respecting the First Amendment of free speech and assembly? It strikes me as hypocritical that we tell the people other countries to fight against an unjust government system, for example Egypt’s tyrannical government, but our own American citizens are silenced for “disturbing the peace.”
The acts of violence by the police countering the Occupy movement, specifically in California, really hit home for me because I am originally from Berkeley, California and it was painful to watch my community being abused. I saw my Facebook newsfeed blow up after October 25th when police used tear gas and rubber bullets on protesters in Oakland and on November 18th when a group of UC Davis students were pepper sprayed in the face because they refused to move. I watch these events unfold through technology and occasionally wish I could be back home to support my Bay Area community. I wanted to examine the origin of nonviolent ideology, so I watched the movie Gandhi to get some insight. I was quite inspired by Gandhi, as many are, but question how much violence and pain citizens must suffer before they see the change they desire. I see parallels between Occupy and Gandhi’s concept of Satyagraha by the non-violent approach and finding a compromise to satisfy both the 1% and the 99%. But how many rubber bullets and Tasers will it take for the U.S government listen to the cries and demands of Occupy? I wonder what Gandhi’s opinion would have been on the Occupy movement and if he were still alive what advice he would give the protestors?

 10 December 2011  Posted by lilavolkas perspectives , , , ,  Add comments

  3 Responses to “Personal Reflection on Violence in the Occupy movement”

  1. “I think this is a very insightful post and really portrays the violence experienced by Occupy protesters outside of Canada. There were huge issues of violence, but within the United States, countless attacks were made on those supporting the movement. These people do not come as violent threats, with weapons, or bombs, but are just average human beings fighting for their own rights and freedom from the chains of corporate power and greed. The government fears the ideas portrayed of the masses and thus instill violence stripping away the democratic right to freedom of speech. Nice parallels drawn between Gandhi and the movement in ways that there can be peaceful and nonviolent approaches.”

  2. Good blog post!

    I think the theme of violence is so important!! Explaining “violence” is a means to create the “other” or the “bad one”.. Also for those at the opposite spectrum of the Occupy Movement, who use protestor’s violence to explain them as the “other”. I’ve looked into a few news agencies in the past few weeks for my blog, and a few (especially Fox and The Province) seem to focus much more on the inflicted violence on the officers. Apparently many were wounded, so they used this to de-ligitimize the movement by denigrating the occupiers. And this is really problematic since, like you justly said, most of the violence is actually carried out by the police who have the power and authority to use it…

    All the violence we can reply with is the passive act of “occupying”. And although seemingly harmless and un-violent, it’s turnout has made it a form of protest much more powerful and effective than many other violent forms.