On Responsibility and Occupy Wall Street

October 29, 2011 by Joshua
in Blog, Freedom

Pausing from my series on the Method, I haven’t written much about Occupy Wall Street, despite it being the topic of much conversation in New York.

On an online community, I couldn’t help respond to someone else’s post on responsibility.

[another community member] wrote:

…taking responsibility for ones self is the clear problem here..They are not taking responsibility for themselves and blaming.. I think they would be better off camping out in front of obamas perch, and going after the lobbyists who essentially run this country.

Also this loud gathering has cost the city 3.4 million dollars thus far, and crime rate has gone up due to the fact that 3,000 police officers are babying these entitled people.

If they had half a brain why did they take a loan in the beginning? and why is an entry level job so demeaning to them….come on now really???

I responded

Regarding responsibility, when I visited Zucotti Park, the dominant message was calling for more responsibility and accountability. Your words “taking responsibility for ones self is the clear problem here..They are not taking responsibility for themselves” are exactly what they were saying. They want more responsibility and accountability.

Regarding the police force, I can’t see how anyone seeing it in person couldn’t conclude the police presence is out of proportion to necessity. Maybe it doesn’t show on TV, but when they protesters move somewhere, far more police are in the wings than necessary, with unnecessary expensive cars, machinery, horses, etc. I’m sure you’ve seen it in person. Did you see otherwise?

The cops no doubt realize this event is one of the biggest, best gravy trains they’ve had in a while — months of overtime with little or no oversight on how they staff and no personal responsibility for who pays their bills. All for people overwhelmingly non-violent, even in the face of police violence perpetrated on them.

My first interaction with the protests came a week or two into the movement, when it was small and unknown. I was walking home with a friend from Union Square, which was filled with police, police cars, etc. The movement hadn’t gotten press yet, so we didn’t know why so many cops were out. At one point a bunch of cops brought out a big orange netting that stretched from the buildings on the south side of the street to the north and walked forward, trawling for everyone in their path. When a cop reached us he started belligerently yelling at us to get into the dragnet.

Mind you, we are two entrepreneurs. We create jobs. He’s a father. We both have Ivy League degrees and haven’t by this point even heard or read the name “Occupy Wall Street.” We’re far from anything going on. And this cop is yelling at us to be detained by police. We told him we were just standing there and he yells to get in the dragnet.

What do you do when a cop yells at you, especially one who looks enraged and possibly violent? You do what he says. It doesn’t matter if he’s behaving legally or not. When he looked away to yell at others, we moved out of the dragnet.

All my observations of police presence related to Occupy Wall Street involved staffing out of proportion to any necessity, even allowing if things got violent. Walking from the Wall Street subway stop to Zucotti Park, you see more cops than protesters, as well as unnecessary expenses, like all the unnecessary gear, cars, etc.

I agree we need police to maintain law and order. Once their numbers surpass what necessity calls for by such a margin, it becomes clear to me that the police are making as significant a political statement as the protesters. Only we citizens and taxpayers have to pay for their statements, not themselves. In fact, they get overtime for it.

You talked about responsibility. The police decide what numbers to assign. Yes, they would require some extra police presence, but not that much more. I’m sorry, but I can’t agree with your charge that the protesters are costing the city the kind of money the cops claim. Also, all the unnecessary and probably illegal arrests will continue to cost the city money for years in legal costs.

If you also ask to hold the police responsible for their unnecessary costs, especially arising from possibly illegal behavior, I applaud your consistency. If so, I’d like to read your asking for accountability from them.

By the way, would you please cite your source that crime in the city is going up or, for that matter, support for the causal relationship you implied between the protests and this claimed increase in crime? I find your claim and implication dubious, but I would gladly change my perspective in the face of evidence and logical reasoning.

Regarding the crime rate going up, I’m no lawyer, but the police themselves seem to be doing a lot of illegal stuff. Besides little things like harassing my friend and me with zero probable cause, I expect all or nearly all the arrests to be overturned. I doubt anyone will pursue wrongful arrest charges, but that doesn’t mean the police didn’t break the law, just that you couldn’t successfully prosecute them.

As for “babying” them, they corralled and maced non-violent people. How do you treat babies?

Regarding “If they had half a brain why did they take a loan in the beginning? and why is an entry-level job so demeaning to them….come on now really???” … you can answer your question as well as anyone. Not being able to answer that would reveal more about your own thoughtfulness than about their choices.

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