Hundreds of US citizens – including an 84-year-old pensioner, a pregnant woman, and a retired New York supreme court judge – have been threatened, beaten, pepper-sprayed or arrested, in a wave of government repression against the US Occupy movement.
On 25 October, over 100 were arrested during the clearing of the encampment in Frank Ogawa Park, Oakland – an operation that left Iraq war vet Scott Olson in a coma after he was struck on the head by a tear gas canister – though activists were subsequently able to re-establish the camp.
Three days later, activists in San Diego were forced to relieve themselves inside police vans, after they were held for hours without toilet facilities.
Then, in what appeared to be a co-ordinated action starting on 11 November, police moved in to shut down the camps in St Louis, Denver, Salt Lake City, Portland and Oakland (again), before moving in on the camp that kick-started the movement, in New York’s Zucotti Park.
Roughly 200 people were arrested in the 15 November raid on Occupy Wall St, including journalists from Agence France-Presse, Associated Press, the New York Times and Vanity Fair. A retired judge – who was acting as a legal observer and was herself threatened with arrest after remonstrating with police she saw beating an African-American woman – later described the raid as “a paramilitary operation if there ever was one”.
It remains to be seen what impact the raids and evictions will have on the US movement, but activists do not yet seem to have been deterred.
A “day of action” on 17 November saw actions take place in cities across the US – as well as 200 more arrests in New York during a failed attempt to shut down Wall Street itself – and on 19 November the indefatigable Oakland activists occupied a new site.
On 2 November, the latter had shut down the city’s port – one of the largest in the US – in an action involving over 3,000 people. Nicole Warner, who took part in the action with her daughter told the BBC: “It was the most beautiful sight I’d ever seen, thousands upon thousands of people piling over the bridge in a totally peaceful way.”
Occupy Oakland are now “call[ing] for the blockade and disruption of the economic apparatus of the 1% with a coordinated shutdown of ports on the entire West Coast on 12 December.”