I am fascinated by the Occupy movement, and in particular the reaction to it in the media. It was virtually ignored when it first started five weeks ago, and then it was discovered and denounced by the right. But it didn’t really take off until the video clip went viral of NYPD’s finest rounding up, fencing off, and then pepper spraying a group of attractive young women who appeared to be doing nothing worse than shouting. It was this that really attracted the attention of the left.
So more and more folks started attending and marching, and what appears to be a real grass-roots movement seems to be coalescing, something like the Tea Party but on the left and tapping into increasing public dissatisfaction with our level of economic inequity and removal of restrictions on funding of political campaigns so that even local races are bought and sold by those with the deepest pockets. The Tea Party is also dissatisfied, but in their case it’s with too much regulation of business and excessive taxes on the rich, and pundits on the hard right are growing increasingly hysterical. SF’s own Debra Saunders ranted out a column yesterday on the lawlessness of the local Occupy folks, demanding that they be brought to justice and charged with the only crime that could be pinned on them: first degree tent pitching.
Because when a tent is pitched, the camel’s nose is sure to enter.
And speaking of pitched tents, the Occupy crowd in SF has been playing an elaborate minuet with the SFPD, which keeps closing down encampments as they keep springing back up. The most recent compromise appears to be that there is no longer more than a token presence in front of the Federal Reserve Bank, and as of the 22nd, a much larger encampment has spread from the bocce courts immediately southeast of Justin Herman to the Embarcadero.
I find it interesting that there are parallels with the Arab Spring movement, not that we suffer from the sort of repression under which the entire Arab world languishes, but that a large part of what sparked the Arab Spring was protest against economic inequity. There are also obvious parallels with the demonstrations in Europe over the austerity measures that are being enacted since these measures are falling hardest on the masses, just as the impact of the current economic woes in this country has fallen overwhelmingly those with lower income.
I simply no longer have the strength or the energy to participate in protests, but i do visit the encampments to offer encouragement, hoping that some benefit to the nation can come out of this movement, most especially a more egalitarian society.
The fringe benefit is that while i’m out i spot new efforts in our local art scene, like the above extension on Polk Street of the Brighter Faster mural on Octavia Street. If this isn’t by Eine, somebody is ripping off his style.