In the past couple of weeks, the Occupy Movement has seen domestic police brutality rise to levels not seen since Vietnam. Students at the UC Davis campus suffered pain from point-blank pepper spray injuries days after campus police officer Lt. John Pike sprayed them in cold blood. During the raid on Zucotti Park last Tuesday, a police officer dragged a medic out of a tent and threw a woman with heart problems to the ground. And in one of the most iconic pictures of the movement’s history, an 84-year-old woman named Dorli Rainey walks with two protestors supporting her; her face burning red, covered in tears and pepper spray.
All of these horrific events are the work of police officers. Their superiors, of course, have ordered them to act this way. Their jobs depend on their ability to follow orders in upholding the law. The law allows for the freedom to assemble; in fact, it’s part of the First Amendment, which most simple-minded politics freaks believe is the general right to free speech. (Hint: It isn’t.) But if that’s the case, then the police should arrest the members of the Westboro Baptist Church, who collect and protest the funerals of dead soldiers, gay young men, and anything else that they feel like. But much like the 1 percent who strives to see the Occupy protestors fail, the WBC is chock full of lawyers with plenty of cash; and if the authorities decide to challenge them, they’ll be more than happy to give a fair sum in order to win a court case.
The Occupy Movement has attracted big media stars, who say that they stand with the protestors in their nonviolent fight against corruption. Yet these celebrities have yet to be tear gassed or taken down by the police, either because the celebrities leave as soon as they arrive or because the cops wouldn’t dare attack such a public figure. However, the NYPD had no problem arresting and handcuffing ex-captain Ray Lewis of the Philadelphia Police Department. Not only was he once a member of the police force in a major city, he was arrested in uniform. Perhaps he didn’t have enough money to make it onto the Do Not Arrest list, regardless of his occupation.
Money should not rule the police forces of the United States of America. Nor should it rule the government that controls the police, nor should it rule the people who pay these police officers’ salaries. While money is not the root of all evil, it can certainly tip the odds in evil’s favor if it falls into the wrong hands. And over the past few decades, it certainly has. We’re now at a point in our society where the classes are divided more than ever. The police aren’t part of the elite; they’re normal American citizens with a badge and a gun. But the elite has certainly found a way to control this country’s officers, and they’re using them as puppets to their advantage.
So what makes a police officer in 2011 instead of a puppet? A police officer must focus on civil order and basic morals over the law. The law has become so broken that instead of working to help real issues and fractures in the nation’s infrastructure, politicians snivel over semantics and won’t pass acts without pinching pennies. A police officer would look at the peaceful protestor yelling in his face and think, “I don’t need to do anything. She’s harmless.” He’d put the pepper spray away and look among the crowd for the people who might actually do damage. Only a mindless puppet with the money of the government in his pocket would harm an old woman who dared raise her voice.
The world is waking up to the secrets of their authority figures. As their vision becomes clearer, they’re starting to see the strings attached at the arms and legs. What the police need to do is also wake up and cut those strings before the people they’re supposed to protect lose all faith in their ability to do their jobs. It could already be too late.
William Sisskind studies Television-Radio and Writing at Ithaca College, and has shaken hands with several famous people. He also writes novels rife with sex and tears. You can ask him anything or vent your issues in the comments below or at @wxsyz on Twitter.