After several months of protests at Occupy Wall Street camps all over the US and hundreds of arrests, RT takes a look at some of the increasingly militarized tactics the police have been using against American citizens.
Popular uprisings abroad get applauded in the United States, but similar uprisings within the US turn into a crackdown on that same democratic will. Has America been in a war on its own territory – against its own people – during the last several months of the nationwide Occupy Wall Street movement demonstrations?
“For basically our entire history we’ve been an imperialist state, so I think it’s only a matter of time before imperialism abroad starts affecting individual liberties at home,” said Occupy Wall Street activist Katie Davison.
The methods being used to end civil disobedience in the US have been increasingly reminiscent of war tactics.
“There is a lot of casualties, so you can say it’s a war zone,” said one New York protester to RT.
Peaceful students have been pepper-sprayed while seated, demonstrating Americans have been getting beaten until they bleed, and even war veterans have gotten injured into unconsciousness.
“Our police forces have been militarized. They are working more in cooperation with the Pentagon. They’re buying and being given military surplus equipment that has been kind of designed for use in war, and this is something that leads to treating the public as you would treat an enemy,” said film maker and blogger Danny Schechter.
“As if they were hugging me, like, ‘Don’t make a move, just put your hands behind your back.’ And then 6 people jumped on me, they tried to wrestle me to the ground, they wrestled me to the ground, and then kneed me in the back for about 5 minutes,” 37-year-old lawyer and artist Amin Husain recalled of his own arrest.
Amin said the only political right not cracked down on in the US is the right to vote on Election Day. Everything else, according to the Occupy Wall Street activist, is seen as a threat.
“The United States has created a space for people to shop. For people to buy cards, go on picnics, do things like that – but the moment they are politicized in any way – that’s a problem,” said Amin.
Hundreds of arrests throughout months of Occupy Wall Street demonstrations have shown the world an image of America not seen for a long time. An image authorities have tried their best to hide by demanding special credentialing for journalists covering demonstrations and evictions, as well as threatening to take media passes away.
“We’re seeing this pattern, and it’s very disturbing, and a lot of reporters aren’t seeing it because they’re getting thrown out of the action and arrested, and this is something that’s outrageous also,” added Schechter.
Police presence and aggression has been overwhelming at non-violent protests.
“Since the Patriot Act was passed, they’ve used instances of violence to revoke liberties,” said Occupy Wall Street activist Jesse La Greca.
Some of those who’ve been part of the protests since day one, have said officials turned the movement into a civil war.
“The show of police force and the coordinated attempts with Homeland Security show that this is coming from a federal level,” explained Occupy Wall street activist Katie Davison.
Even with the use of militarized tactics on the rise, those who have been fighting for change are not planning to give up on their battle.
“The police overreaction and the political overreaction only emboldens us, only strengthens our resolve,” said Jesse La Greca.
Many are saying the real fight is yet to come.
“The actions of a dying regime become more aggressive and crazier. We’re just going to see more of that. 2012 will be the year of American Revolution,” editorial columnist and author Ted Rall said to RT.
The aggressive vigor with which America’s biggest protests in years have been met is the latest example of the fact that what the US preaches is not necessarily what it practices – only heating the outrage of its citizens who want the system to change.