Why Nonviolence is Not an Effective Response to the Police in the US

The article I'm reposting below was written by S. Brian Willson, author of Blood on the Tracks, an internationally respected peace activist who is totally committed to nonviolence. I agree with Brian's conclusions. Rather than making demands on the system or trying to work within it, we need to develop nonviolent revolutionary strategies of the sort he suggests and that many here on Occupy Cafe are dedicated to.

Link to source: http://www.brianwillson.com/police-brutality-historic-pattern-conti...

Police Brutality – Historic Pattern Continues
August 3, 2012

July 25, 2012 Alternet article: “Did the NYPD Break International Law in Suppressing Protest?”

As a criminologist I think it instructive to place police brutality in its historical perspective (meaning that this totally unacceptable and egregious police behavior is really not an aberration in US history). For example:

(1) The 1968 “Walker Report: Rights in Conflict” examined the civil disturbances (“rioting” at the DNC in Chicago, Aug, 22-29. It took more than 20,000 pages of statements from 3,437 eyewitnesses and participants, looked at 180 hours of film, and over 12,000 still photographs. Report essentially concluded that disorders resulted primarily from refusal of authorities to grant permits and from the subsequent systematic brutal and indiscriminate attacks by Chicago police on demonstrators, most of whom were peaceful. So, in effect we witnessed government brutal violence against US Americans at home protesting an illegal war abroad while that same government was committing brutal violence against Vietnamese in their homeland who were protesting the illegal war waged against them. It was the police, in effect, who had rioted against the people. The Walker report cited “ferocious, malicious and mindless violence” and “gratuitous beating” by the police.

Many years later it was discovered that “almost one in every six demonstrators was an undercover agent” [see Myra MacPherson. (2006). "All Governments Lie": The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I.F. Stone. New York: Scribner, p. 421].

(2) The 1931 (Hoover) Wickersham Commission’s Report on Lawlessness in Law Enforcement concluded that the “third degree,” the willful infliction of pain and suffering on criminal suspects, was “widespread.” The commission discovered that “official lawlessness” by police, jailers, judges, magistrates, and others in the criminal justice system was widespread in many jurisdictions, including major cities. It investigated illegal arrests, bribery, entrapment, coercion of witnesses, fabrication of evidence, “third degree” practices, police brutality, and illegal wiretapping. It defined “The third degree” as employment of methods which inflict suffering, physical or mental, upon a person, in order to obtain from that person information about a “crime”, saying it was “widespread” and “secret.” It called the practice (torture) “shocking in its character and extent, violative of American traditions and institutions.” It catalogued some of the “third degree methods”:”physical brutality, threats, sleep deprivation, exposure to extreme cold or heat–also known as ‘the sweat box’–and blinding with powerful lights and other forms of sensory overload or deprivation.”

Of course, the NYPD broke international law, which means they also broke domestic law while violating the Constitution. But, I ask, so what? They do it all the time, and always have. It is totally unacceptable, but our oligarchic political economy needs to make it clear that when popular democracy begins to break out, it must be suppressed or repressed at any and all costs.


BW: Unfortunately, this behavior IS very much part of the (US)American tradition and institutions. We need to unravel from the entire mythology about the US founding and its continuing “exceptionalism.” Exceptionally diabolical, perhaps. This is why Occupy is so important and our need to develop nonviolent revolutionary strategies of noncooperation, withdrawing support from dependency upon the system while radically downsizing into cooperative, locally food sufficient communities.
 

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