I am not formally a protester at the Occupy San Luis Obispo demonstration, but I was passing by this afternoon. What I witnessed dramatically opened my eyes to how far inattention to our government has allowed for a disparity in law and justice. I was there when law enforcement and county officials told the demonstrators that camping would no longer be allowed. Like a blinding flash, I could see what a pit our country has fallen into.
Those county employees were doing the behest of the “landed gentry.” Have we forgotten the Declaration of Independence, that the government derives power from “the consent of the governed”? That the people have the right to alter these organizations when they fail to protect rights? And to that end, that the First Amendment to the Constitution specifies that no law shall be passed that prohibits freedom of speech or the right of people to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances?
It seems to me that the people’s county government should make every effort to enable the people to exercise their guaranteed civil rights. As such, they should allow camping and round-the-clock occupation at the steps to the county courthouse.
A new movement
To the “Occupy” people, wherever you are occupying: I would venture that 90 percent of you voted for Obama. Well you got what you wanted. Because of this president, the economy is in the toilet. What do you have to complain about?
To Oakland police
To the Oakland Police Officer’s Association, I must respond to your publicly posted letter criticizing Mayor Jean Quan for encouraging city employees to demonstrate alongside the Occupy Wall Street movement and your question: “Is it the city’s intention to have city employees on both sides of a skirmish line?
Actually, it is the mayor’s intention to preserve the First Amendment rights of her constituents no matter their chosen profession. It is honorable of her to ensure the human rights, civil liberties and political freedom of her employees.
What law enforcement needs to recognize is that this dissent is not aimed at our existing institutions or those who enforce our laws; it is a new kind of a movement, a rebellion against flagrant disregard for the people of an economic system, a pointed call for answers from Wall Street tycoons who so gluttonously hoard our nation’s wealth without a flicker of consideration for those cut down in their capitalistic wake.
The California Teachers Association union is behind the movement, the California Nurses Association has pledged their allegiance, and the only posse of public servants too ignorant to realize they, too, would benefit from a change in economic structure are you, the armed enforcers of our cities.
Millions like them
I dropped by Occupy SLO on Oct. 28th. There was a small pup-tent encampment and ragtag band of people. L., a woman who got to the courthouse via bus from Atascadero, is two months sober. S., stocky, buzz-cut and sober-faced, said they had been ordered to leave the area by 10 p.m.
B., his younger buzz-cut buddy, wore a gray camo jacket. His watery blue eyes held a lot of hurt. M., young and outgoing, hadn’t a trace of self-pity. He made no bones about being familiar with the inside of a jail. He said “Occupy” was really for people like a young man who rode by on a bicycle: “He works full-time at Ross and spends all the rest of his time here.” I didn’t wait until eviction came — there’s historical precedent for fleeing the scene of a showdown when the authorities are coming for you.
Coverage of this small, huddled band of tired and poor would have honored the 125th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty. There are millions more like them, and their numbers are growing.
It’s our own mess
Having watched the coverage of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations around the country, the protesters seem to be blaming Wall Street, the banks, and big business for the financial mess the country is in, but breaking laws to accomplish their goals is not the democratic way.
I do agree that the financial institutions are somewhat responsible for the financial meltdown, but we can find the real cause by looking inside ourselves. When the financial institutions introduced the credit card some years ago (knowing full well that most could not keep their spending under control) we jumped right in and ran up huge balances. When the housing market was on the rise we took advantage of easy lending practices and sub-prime loans, buying houses we could not afford otherwise.
Entitlement programs, starting with the New Deal, have run up a huge national debt. The government has never been able to control the economy. But once you give a dog a bone, don’t try to take it away.
The Declaration of Independence starts out “We the People” and it is we the people who have caused this mess. The financial institutions simply supplied the gun and we shot ourselves in the foot.