The Occupy Wall Street movement has to remember, no matter how tempting it may be to do otherwise, that police brutality is not the central focus. It is nothing more than a road block on the way to changing the way that Washington and Wall Street operate.
The incident in Oakland where a former marine suffered a fractured skull as the result of a tear gas canister being launched directly and intentionally at his head released the latest anti-police sentiment in the movement. The incident was horrific and unfair and also easy to sum up by spreading one picture of the bloodied victim around the world. But fighting that battle is nothing more than a distraction. That battle against police brutality has been fought and lost for decades in the United States. If the movement becomes anti-cop it is inevitable that violence will eventually follow and there is no question that the 99% has much less fire power.
Now there is a case to be made that publicizing incidents such as what happened in Oakland may garner additional public support for the movement, I believe it is actually likely to alienate average Americans who have thought only in passing about joining or at the very least sympathizing with the movement. Violent incidents tell the casual observer that it is a movement only for the politically radical and young.
If OWS is going to fundamentally change the relationship between Washington and the Wall Street elite who use their fiscal power to wield political power in Washington, it is going to have to be a broad based movement.
OWS has to remember that none of the cops working the rallies got the job so they could specifically oppress the OWS movement, most of them are working overtime and some have no choice in the matter. And for them it is a bad day at the office. Some of them are assholes, but they are nothing more than a tactical roadblock in getting out the message, not a manifestation of the enemy.
The ultimate result from a focus on police brutality is an increase in the severity of the orders coming down to the police on the ground and an overall increase in authoritarian rule in the United States. Essentially the Occupy movement could justify the general direction that the establishment elite would love to take the country. Namely more power in their hands.
The police will not suddenly behave humanely if made the focus of the movement. The orders need to change from their superiors and better yet their superiors need to be different people.
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About the Author: Shaun Booth is editor of MilwaukeeStory.com.