Some of the police brutality that has occurred at Occupy demonstrations around the country has been appalling. It's particularly upsetting to watch as those cops seen violating the law and the Constitutional rights of demonstrators are also part of the "99 Percent" themselves.
One of them --- Officer Fred Shavies of the Oakland PD, who was revealed as an undercover infiltrator at Occupy Oakland --- now concedes as much in an extraordinarily moving interview in which he condemns the violence by his fellow cops and says he sees the Occupy movement as a possible "turning point, the tipping point" for our generation.
"It looks like...police shot tear gas into it, right?" says Shavies, referencing the October 25 violence in Oakland at the intersection of 14th & Broadway that The BRAD BLOG has documented in great detail here (see here, here and here for example). "That could be the photograph or the video for our generation. That’s our Birmingham," he explains, alluding to the police brutality that occurred during the otherwise peaceful fight for voting rights in the South during the 60s.
"So, twenty years from now this movement could be the turning point, the tipping point," Shavies says during the interview, as he identifies with the protesters in the "99 percent" movement, adding that he is one of them. [Video and more excerpts below.]
We're not among the anti-cop folks around here. We have, however, reported in great detail on the lawlessness demonstrated by some of the "law enforcement" officials in Oakland, referenced by Shavies, as well as the serious injuries they've inflicted on peaceful demonstrators and even some who weren't demonstrating at all.
So while we don't oppose the lawful men and women of law enforcement, some of them seem to be working awfully hard to give their brothers and sisters a very bad name. Those who have done so must be held accountable for their actions.
You've seen some of the videos of NYPD officers violently pepper spraying peaceful demonstrators, and the videos from Oakland as seen in the articles linked above. Here are two more recent examples of appalling police behavior as witnessed on video tape.
The first is from Occupy Berkeley on Wednesday, where the actions seen below were reported by AP as little more than police "nudging" demonstrators:
Really, AP? "Nudging"?...
UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau offered this statement to justify the above "nudging": "It is unfortunate that some protesters chose to obstruct the police by linking arms and forming a human chain to prevent the police from gaining access to the tents. This is not non-violent civil disobedience... the police were forced to use their batons."
So the linking of arms, as used by non-violent protesters in this nation for at least half a century, including during the Civil Rights marches and protests in the 60s led by Dr. Martin Luther King, are no longer considered "non-violent", according to UC Berkeley's Chancellor.
The second is this recent example, via PoliceLeak.com, of a cop at Occupy Dallas blatantly shoving a demonstrator off a 4 ft. ledge...
So the following interview by Justin Warren with Oakland's Officer Shavies, the Oakland PD's plain-clothed "infiltrator", is particularly welcome and comes not a moment too soon...
One of the key quotes from the interview...
Incidents of police violence are isolated, to be sure. They ought not give the police as a whole a bad name any more than isolated incidents of violence by protesters (more often provoked by police than not during Occupy demonstrations, from our reporting) should be used to condemn the Occupy Movement as a whole.
But the police, of all citizens --- many of them former members of the Armed Forces who have fought overseas to defend our Constitutional rights --- ought to know better. They ought to stand in defiance of unlawful, unconstitutional orders. They ought to be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the vast, overwhelming majority of 100% peaceful demonstrators around the country. They ought to be turning around and arresting their fellow officers when they are seen violating the law and the rights of peaceful citizens.
In some of our earlier coverage of the Oakland PD's violent confrontation with demonstrators, and the unprovoked and unlawful use of tear gas against them, we noted that we "can't help but look at the faces of the police in gas masks...as they" stood quietly behind barricades across from peaceful demonstrators, "and wonder what they must be thinking to themselves."
When some 15 other agencies from elsewhere joined the Oakland PD in their multi-agency task force on October 25th, it might have been easy for many of them to face the demonstrators. Not so for Shavies, as he notes in the interview above, offering a brief glimpse of what was going on in at least his mind during that moment...
So, in my mind, I'm smiling like, ya know, "Is he serious?" But, he kinda really feels that way. Which is also troubling to me, right? In the sense that I should have to choose. To me, it's not black and white. It's gray. Right? I'm a police officer. I'm a citizen of Oakland. I'm a part of the 99 percent. It's gray.
And I guess that's why it's easier for people to go and police in a community they don't belong to. You know, maybe in their mind it's easier, because they're...because it's just a job and they can take it off. I think about that stuff when I'm at home. It's not just a job for me. I can't just take it off. I don't take my uniform off, or my vest, and then...like, that stuff sticks with me. Cause I'm from Oakland.