This Is What Tyranny Looks Like
by Carl Gibson/ Common Dreams/ May 23, 2012
Protesters clashed with police at the NATO summit meeting in Chicago on Sunday. (Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times)
Remember when police beat Tea Party activists with batons, raided homes without warrants, unjustly arrested and strip-searched Tea Party protesters, or attacked and intimidated journalists covering Tea Party rallies?
Me neither. But then again, the Tea Party took to the streets in favor of higher profits and less regulations for the richest 1 percent, whose ranks they hope to but will never join. The media is more than happy to inflate their crowd estimates, and police are more than happy to let pro-status quo protests take to the streets undisturbed. The Tea Party has since phased out street protests to take over a major political party and make it bend to their every radical whim.
While it hasn’t yet taken over a major party, the Occupy movement has successfully exposed the oppressive fascist police state that has reared its ugly head in the past year. If you want to see what tyranny looks like, consider what happened to the estimated 75,000 protesters who took on the military-industrial complex at last weekend’s NATO summit in Chicago, after the mayor revoked protesters’ attempts to lawfully assemble.
-A night before protests even begun, the Chicago Police Department raided an activist’s home and arrested several on unproven allegations of terrorist activity, allwithout a valid warrant.
-At the front of a police line surrounding a NATO gathering, police suddenly start beating unarmed protesters with batons in an eerie video resembling police at Egypt’s Tahrir Square.
-While covering the protests, credentialed journalists are attacked by police who use bicycles as weapons.
-After a day of covering the protests, three livestreamers are surrounded by Chicago police at gunpoint and have their car and property impounded without cause.
But the oppression isn’t coming from just the police. The federal government is now openly embracing totalitarian tactics in suppressing political dissent, including unwarranted surveillance, denial of due process rights, and even psychological warfare:
-FBI agents pressured a group of anarchists in Ohio to blow up a bridge on May Day, going so far as to pick out a target and provide the explosives. They were held without bond after their arrest. White supremacists in Florida planning an actual terrorist attack at a May Day protest were outed by state police, and ignored by federal law enforcement. Their bond was set at $500.
-The Department of Homeland Security assembled almost 800 pages of documents detailing possibly unconstitutional monitoring of the Occupy movement, and collaboration with city governments.
-Congress voted down an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have prohibited the federal government from detaining American citizens indefinitely, without trial, based on pure suspicion. They did so exactly one day after US District Judge Katherine Forrest struck down NDAA detention provisions as unconstitutional. Congress also passed a law allowing protesters to be arrested on felony charges anywhere where there is secret service protection, and is actively seeking to lift a ban on the use of propaganda on American citizens.
-The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision to allow invasive and humiliating strip searches for any arrest, no matter the charge (like protesting).
So why the violent police oppression and government suppression of rights? As Dan Rather said on Bill Maher’s program, “Big business is in bed with big government.” A great portion of the federal government is sponsored by big corporations, so naturally, nearly every act of Congress and the Supreme Court is done so with the ultimate goal of deregulating industry and maximizing corporate profits at the expense of citizen and consumer rights. These puppets of industry occupying our government will discredit and crack down on anyone trying to stop, delay or reverse the process by any means necessary.
In 1963, JFK famously said our nation was “founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.” The historic street demonstrations of 2012 will be meaningless unless citizens use the power of the vote this year to remove the worst offenders from office. They can start with the Representatives and Senators who voted NO to due process rights.
Carl Gibson, 25, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary “We’re Not Broke,” which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Old Lyme, Connecticut.