On September 17th, disillusioned individuals gathered in a lower Manhattan park and spawned the Occupy Wall Street movement, which now has a presence in over 1,000 cities and towns worldwide. Those involved represent a diversity of views – from those who wish to control the violence of the State for their own purposes, to those who advocate for self-government.
While discourse and idea sharing on how we got here and how to best move forward is what’s needed, focus has centered on interactions between those who wear badges and those who don’t, and for good reason. Those in the former have systematically violated the rights of those in the latter.
While it’s nothing new (once arbitrary authority is granted there is no accountability until it’s withdrawn), the shear scale of this movement coupled with camera-savvy occupiers means the misdeeds – including arrests – are being captured. And now one site specifically is documenting them: OccupyArrests.com.
I caught-up with site-creator, Chris Ernesto, who was kind enough to share some info about his motivations and goals for the site and the Occupy movement.
– What motivated you to spearhead OccupyArrests.com?
To help draw attention to the magnitude of the Occupy arrests, and to help tell the stories of the people being violated by cops all around the country for simply expressing their views. How is it that we live in the “land of the free” yet more than 4,000 people have been arrested for utilizing their First Amendment rights, and why do we have the highest incarceration rate in the world? Plus, Americans love scoreboards…
– How can people help you with the site? Any specific talents or capacity needed to help take it to the next level?
The police, media, corporations and government obviously don’t want people to know how many protesters have been arrested during the Occupy protests, so making sure that we get the word out is important. We have a counter that people can put on their websites and blogs.
– What is the significance of many Occupy events occurring around the world?
The ruling class, and those who protect it have been put on notice, and people appear to be realizing how much power they potentially have.
– What recommendations do you have for those participating at an Occupy event on how to mitigate potential rights-violations by those wearing badges?
No matter how difficult it is, don’t fight back when the cops act brutally. And make sure arrests and acts of police aggression are videotaped and spread on the internet. Two women getting pepper sprayed in New York, an Iraq war vet getting injured by cops in Oakland, and students at UC Davis getting assaulted all led the public to take the side of the Occupy protesters. If people acted violently in return the public would likely have had no remorse for the real victims and their cause.
– What is your end-goal, both in lieu of the site and your activism in general?
First, to help insure that people don’t become desensitized to police brutality. If nobody pays attention to thousands of people getting arrested for protesting, then cops would have a better chance of getting away with acting even more violently towards demonstrators. And second, to help stop the U.S. empire from destroying the lives of people around the world and here in the U.S. As bad as we have it here due to a corrupt system that is filled with greed and institutionalized violence, the people in Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan have it even worse in large part due to our country’s desire for global domination. As citizens of the empire I think it’s our responsibility to help stop the destructive path our country is on.
Thanks to Chris for allocating his scarce time to such a worthy effort!
If you know of arrests not-yet documented on the site send details to: firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you’re in the Tampa/St. Pete area be sure to check out another site Chris runs: StPeteForPeace.org.
And much love to mutual friend and liberty-activist James Cox for introduction. Check out his project: Peace, Freedom & Prosperity.