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US Declares War! On Democratic Dissent?

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Given the blatant, state sanctioned police violence we're seeing brutalize Occupy and its supporters, are we increasingly facing the question of what America and its police have become? How far will our own government's violence against legitimate protest go?

US Declares War! On Democratic Dissent?
By Ritt Goldstein
Copyright November 2011
Permission to reprint with attribution and without alteration

The image of a group of quietly sitting, non-threatening students is what sticks with me, the students sitting together, huddled together in a way that recalled for me civilian victims of our planet’s past conflicts in the moments just prior to an expected attack. And the attack soon came, delivered by one from a ring of heavily armed men surrounding them in battle gear, a barrage of ‘toxic gas’ (pepper spray) fired onto their heads and into their faces at point-blank range.

As with any brutal attack against unarmed civilians in a ‘war’, the desperate screams of women and the outraged voice of an occasional man could be heard, the sounds of shock, horror, disbelief and outrage dominating the video’s soundtrack. A menacing orange-hued mist poured itself upon those that had only their country’s constitution as a shield, that and the belief in what we once knew to be America, but both failed to protect these courageous, the vision of this dominating what I saw.

Of course, anything is in the eye of the beholder, so one must look for oneself…

Occupy UC Davis pepper spray *graphic* 11.18.11 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dqBe9nf_oo&feature=related

In a police state one would expect this, in a fascist state one would expect this, in a rogue state one would expect this…and thus, have so many simply been a spectator as Amerika murdered America?

Days earlier, at an Occupy Seattle protest, it’s been widely reported that police there attacked peaceful demonstrators with pepper spray as well, something which video evidence confirms. Among those reported pepper sprayed was a priest, the Reverend Rich Lang, and a pregnant woman, and 84 year old Dorli Rainey, a retired schoolteacher.

A Seattle PI photographer captured Ms. Rainey moments after the police had pepper sprayed her, leaving her face coated with the devastatingly painful weapon. One glance at this work in the Seattle PI photo gallery explains why overnight it came to define the effective war now being waged upon Occupy and its supporters, the war Ms. Rainey was courageously protesting against.

Appearing on Occupy Seattle’s website, part of an essay by the Reverend Lang described his own experiences at the 15 November Occupy Seattle protest, noting: “The police were once conceived to be a citizen force created to serve and protect the public. Today however, the police have been militarized and view the populace as enemy combatants… alone in full alb, stole and cross --- six officers turned their (pepper) spray on me thoroughly soaking my alb, and then one officer hit me full throttle in the face.”

“Enemy combatants” is indeed how it seems so many of America’s best are now perceived by those that call themselves our nation’s ‘Finest’. Has Amerika murdered America?

In July 1997 I was forced to flee the US for my life, my ‘crime’ was having led a non-violent, legislative effort to ensure US police accountability. Aside from an anonymous and explicit death threat, being shot at, and having the steering unscrewed on my car, I was regularly pepper-sprayed, sometimes over twenty times in a day.

It was ‘fun’ for many of my attackers, and my strongest memory of that period is when I was badly doused with pepper-spray and could only watch as my assailants drove off, laughing at my agony. But here is a one hour video of a police accountability hearing I chaired in Connecticut’s legislature just months before being forced to flee, a video that reveals US police horrors are perhaps something too many have too long been in denial of.

Has Amerika murdered America, or is there yet some time and the courage?