Wall Street and banking giants, along with unscrupulous real estate companies, brought the country into a devastating recession resulting in extraordinarily high unemployment and the loss of millions of homes. We all know this. In turn this revealed the economic inequality rife in our country whereby the 1% owns and controls most of the wealth and political power, while the rest are trickled-down upon, and it’s not with money. We all know this. Is it any wonder that a vast majority of our fellow citizens are angry and want to see a change in this gross imbalance?
That is at the core of the Occupy Movement as it’s been stated many times. Occupy protests and encampments spread across the country and other parts of the world in the fall. Police and municipal governments responded, sometimes violently and without cause, sometimes judiciously with measured, non-violent tactics. Most of the demonstrations and demonstrators maintained a non-violent stance, sometimes employing peaceful civil disobedience tactics, and in doing so garnered the support of many who may not have demonstrated, but agreed with the thrust of the Movement.
Now come alleged reports, not yet verified, that violence was rampant and directed against police in Oakland by some who claim to be part of the Occupy Oakland contingent. Again, this may or may not be true or accurate, but if violence as a tactic is accepted or embraced by Occupy Movement participants, whether it’s Oakland or some other place, it’s the opinion of this writer that would be a drastic mistake, counter-productive to the legitimate cause of the Movement, and will backfire in a loss of public support.
There have been great struggles in our country for civil rights, worker’s rights, women’s’ suffrage and anti-war protests. These were not small issues, and there were times when police and government forces reacted brutally and violently against peaceful protesters. Our history is replete with such occasions. But despite police or even government-sanctioned brutality and repression, the vast number who fought in these seminal struggles for these good and righteous causes maintained non-violence and took the moral high ground. Our fellow countrymen, and many across the globe recognized and emulated this Gandhian tactic, as did Dr. King. One can only imagine the courage and strength it takes to not respond in kind to violence and aggression when it’s directed against us; to turn the other cheek as we have been told.
It is the opinion of this writer that if the Occupy Movement is to succeed, to bring about economic equity and fairness, to regulate the industries that brought about the economic collapse, and to hold accountable those who committed fraud it is imperative that, difficult as it may be, it be done without resorting to violence. If violence is permitted or accepted by those in the Occupy Movement as a legitimate tactic and response, though the cause be just, it will fail.