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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Occupy movement continues despite ongoing pressure

The Occupy movement, an issue that dominated headlines in 2011, resurfaced in national news last week with confrontations between police and protestors in Oakland, Calif., and police raids of the protestor encampment in Washington, D.C.

Associated with the greater Occupy movement against income inequality in the country, the protests in the two cities contrast in their response to challenges from authority.

With tear gas canisters flying as protesters approached police behind makeshift barricades, over 400 people were arrested on Jan. 29 by Oakland police officers when the group tried to enter a vacant convention center to reestablish headquarters.

Caught in the middle were activists like Alyssa Eisenberg, detained as part of the Saturday mass arrest. Eisenberg, who has multiple sclerosis, said that the police denied her need for medication while detained.

“At least two other people who asked for medication weren’t given it,” Eisenberg said in an interview with the Huffington Post. “One woman had her cuffs on so tight that her hands were turning blue and she was crying. The way they treated us is exactly why I am involved in Occupy Oakland.”

The Oakland protestors are no strangers to strained police relations. In October, controversy erupted when Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen suffered a brain injury after allegedly being hit by a police projectile.

Elsewhere during the Jan. 30 weekend, some of the protestors vandalized Oakland City Hall, removing an American flag from the building and burning it.

One protestor shouted, “Why did you shoot at us? We were in the open!” as police came in to restore order.

“The Bay Area Occupy movement has got to stop using Oakland as their playground,” said Oakland mayor Jean Quan in an official statement. “The residents of Oakland are wearying of the constant focus and cost to our city.”

Sanjay Marwah, assistant professor of justice and policy studies, places a large amount of the blame on municipal leadership for the tenuous relations, but warns against singling out police.

“The mayor’s done a horrible job,” said Marwah. “She is giving conflicting signals to the police. The police are well trained, but all of their actions are being observed under a microscope. We need to moderate views on both sides of the conflict.”

Across the country in our nation’s capital exists a calmer but similarly themed image of the Occupy protests.

Compared to what has been happening in Oakland, there have been far fewer confrontations between the police and Occupy D.C. protestors. The relationship between the two groups has been described as “thus far, cordial,” by Occupy D.C. protestors. However, developments in the last week are quickly changing that dynamic.

“Actually, as we speak, I am staring at a line of barricades and a line of park police, possibly in the neighborhood of a hundred of them,” said Justin, a press contact and member of Occupy D.C. during a phone interview with the Guilfordian. “They came in with a half-dozen horses and a helicopter overhead, just for funsies.”

Starting on Jan. 30, the police began to enforce a U.S. National Park Service camping ban at McPherson Park, where the protestors are located. While this is not technically an eviction, protestors are not allowed to sleep on the property.

One protestor has kept up a five-day sleeping strike in protest of the new policy.

“My question is, why is it no longer tolerable now?” said Professor of Justice and Policy Studies Jerry Joplin.

He notes the political nature of the conflict and disagrees with police use in these kinds of situations.

“Should we use police to limit the voice people have?” asked Joplin.

Back in Washington, D.C., Justin and the rest of Occupy D.C. face the rapid removal of their presence in McPherson Park.

“They said they would remove tents not in compliance, but that now appears to be a lie, as they are taking down tents systematically, whether in compliance or not,” said Justin. “They’re trying to take us down tent-by-tent.”

In spite of these developing hardships, the groups insist on continuing with their efforts as a community.

“There are people staying in churches who have volunteered spaces for protestors; there are a number of local supporters who have offered space,” said Justin to The Guilfordian. “The real tragedy here is that people with nowhere else to go will, instead, be back on the streets, not part of a community they are active and vital members of.”

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    AnkitMar 14, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    The police force that keeps our asses safe from droanm people walking in to our houses and murdering us, you want to take away the money they’ve worked hard for because of one incident by one guy? ” More pseudo right wing tripe. I am sure too you call yourself a small government conservative. The bureaucrats in government sanctified costumes, along with their taxpayer provided arms, badges, and body armor. Are not protecting you. They are merely enforcers for the state (big government), it’s taxes, it edicts, and demands. The droanm people busting down your door in the middle of the night is just as likely to be one of them, then it is some criminal. Of course I can shoot the unknown if he is a mere mundane criminal, whereas if I was to put up a fight with our law enforcement officers. No doubt I would be carried out in a body bag. It’s all about force protection you know?The honorable bureaucrats in blue. Like all bureaucrats (teachers, and other public’ sector workers) everywhere real concerns are increasing their pay, their benefits, their days off, and their budgets. Of course most these are unionized to force these things through the budget, and policy processes.Go ahead keep giving them the benefit of the doubt, but don’t cry to me when one of your own gets his/her own skill cracked, on a dark highway somewhere because they didn’t submit . So you go on and keep worshiping the enforcement arm of fascist, socialist welfare, warfare state.