The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Occupy Oakland police went too far


What do angry Occupy Oakland protesters, rapid riot police, tear gas and a skull fracture add up to?

A complete, utter disaster, some would say.

Or more like a disheveled outcry arisen and a general strike looming.

The Occupy protests all over the world are still continuing, with police trying to keep the at times disheveled crowds in order.

But there is a fine line between trying to keep order and just being plain mean.

On Oct. 25, in Oakland, Calif., the protests turned nasty as police used tear gas and other means of force to deal with the protesters. Scott Olsen, a former Marine and Iraq veteran, suffered a skull fracture caused by a projectile fired by police.

Is firing tear gas and putting people’s lives in danger “keeping order?”

I understand if the police are looking to keep order and keep the city safe, but come on. People are getting seriously injured.

The United States of America was founded on the belief of the rights of the people, including freedom of speech. The Declaration of Independence clearly states that people are endowed with rights such as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Is a bunch of policemen using excessive and injurious force to control people who are taking advantage of their freedom of speech a part of what America should really be about?

I do not think so.

What about the right to “peacefully assemble?” Where is the line between peaceful protesting and assembling an angry mob?

Both the police and protesters are culpable, no matter if one is the “99 percent” or the rich “one percent.” Friends and family involved in the protesting side and the police side are all getting injured and harmed in a situation that could be the blame of the city not organizing the movement to be as peaceful as possible.

Due to the events that transpired last Tuesday, Oakland entered the strike zone on Nov. 2, with a citywide general strike.

General strikes tend to involve a great mass of the labor forces in a city, region or country as opposed to just one workplace. The purpose of these strikes is usually to bring important labor, political and economic issues to light.

Even though general strikes tend to happen in European nations, usually by those going through economic hardships, they do not often happen in the United States.

“Those countries all have traditions of general strikes that are more lively and up to the recent time, whereas in the United States general strikes were always more rare,” Georgetown University labor historian Joe McCartin said in an article for CNN Money.

However, according to an article in the Huffington Post, the strike went off without many problems. Between seven and 10,000 protesters participated, and the fifth largest port in the nation was soon shut down.

The strike sent a deep message to people all over the world, with the thought that it takes a lot of people to get attention in terms of the situation last week.

Although the strike may be effective, there will be a lot to address in terms of the handling of the protests and the fine line between keeping order and outright police brutality.  

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