I watched live footage, yesterday and last night, of what appeared to be a considerably large gathering on the streets of Manhattan… New York, New York… across the ocean in the New Worlde of the Americas; the self-styled cradle of democracy.
I would have guesstimated that there were at least a couple of thousand people marching on Wall Street, protesting against ‘bank bailouts, the mortgage crisis and the US state of Georgia's execution of Troy Davis’.
From what I saw – and it was a live feed from within the crowd itself – there was a jovial, carnival atmosphere to the march. They obviously had a serious message to send out, but they were having fun with it, too… singing and dancing and being youthful and excitable.
The closest thing to any criminality I saw was people standing in the path of traffic.
Then, before I knew it (possibly after an episode of Doctor Who), the New York Police Department seemed to be arresting anyone for anything, from talking in a reasonable, non-threatening tone to taking photographs of police officers using heavy-handed tactics to handcuff scrawny students who put up no resistance whatsoever.
Here’s a video of a group of women – who had already been ‘kettled’ behind a barrier – being sprayed in the face with mace/pepper spray for absolutely no valid reason whatsoever:
These marchers surely have a right to freedom of speech and peaceful protest? Yet the NYPD’s over-zealous and, at times, pretty brutal response was the sort of thing you’d more expect to hear about from the forces of a dictatorial regime. Short of actually opening fire on the protesters, they seemed to be using all other options available.
The actions of those NYPD officers was shameful. It was the sort of thing that, if it had been filmed on the streets of Tehran or Damascus, the US president and UK prime minister would have been straight up on their high horses to condemn, demanding that people be allowed to protest peacefully and without fear of harm or molestation, and that the ruling regime had obviously lost all legitimacy and should go.
As disturbing as this ‘on the ground’ suppression of freedom was, the most chilling aspect of the day’s events was the almost absolute media silence.
And there was really nothing from any of the established international news organisations.
The New York Times linked a story on Twitter, during the protests, with the headline: ‘Bahrain Protesters and Police Clash During Election’ – yet they had NOT A WORD to say about what was happening literally on their own doorstep.
Astonishingly, the BBC still haven’t written a thing about yesterday’s drama. Not a peep from them, and you can be absolutely sure that if a crowd half the size of the one that walked through Manhattan had been walking through London, there would have been much hoo-ha and lots of video footage and commentary in the news studio.
Even if these media outfits had anticipated a non-event and that was the reason there were no news cameras on the street initially, the live, independent video feed and the way Twitter was lighting up should have been enough to get a crew or two rolling to the scene.
I don’t believe for one moment that the major news agencies didn’t know what was happening – and how many of them have bases in New York?
It’s inconceivable that they didn’t know… which means that either they chose to deliberately ignore the protests (which is a completely bizarre scenario – they normally jump on events such as these), or they were told to ignore them; and when you’ve got all of the major news agencies in the world silenced and turning a blind eye to those events - yet there’s footage streaming in from people in the crowd - what could otherwise be regarded as a conspiracy theory starts to show itself as actual fact.
We know from the ongoing phone-tapping scandal in the UK that our governments and the media giants have a very suspect relationship… essentially, these leviathan news organisations have the power to win or lose an election, but I’m sure that goes both ways and governments call in their own favours, too.
Did they do that yesterday, in trying to silence the protestors?
Were they doing similar in London last month, and in December last year, character assassinating anyone who went up before the courts before they could even be tried of the alleged crimes they were charged with?
The government and media, police and judiciary have conspired together to deal out some pretty harsh punishments for the two events in London, with jail sentences inflated way beyond the ordinary or acceptable – and this is fact.
This is creepy.
Paraphrasing a quote I read earlier in the week: “It’s okay to execute people and supress peaceful protest as long as it’s not in China or a Muslim country.”
If this treatment is unacceptable in Tehran, Tripoli, Cairo or Damascus… then it’s unacceptable in London, Paris and New York.
The Western leaders should be mindful of the Arab Spring uprisings as an example of what happens when you try to silence people with dirty tactics and violence – and these protests are just beginning. We’re on the precipice of a double-dip recession. People are going to be a heck of a lot more frustrated and they’ll be out in much higher number.
All it would take is some angry, frightened cop to open fire on a couple of protestors and there would be hundreds of thousands out on the streets in every major city in the US… and that’s a can of worms that shouldn’t be opened.
The United States and United Kingdom are as immune to revolution as the Titanic was to sinking.
The government and law enforcement communities have to start making smarter choices, and work for the people who vote for them, or this is going to get out of hand on both sides of the pond.
“The more you refuse to hear my voice, the louder I will sing.” – Labi Siffre