Flag Burning by the NYPD and FBI

A friend recently forwarded an email purporting to be outraged that a group of protesters were standing on a large US flag and putting out their cigarettes on it, etc. She had received the email from someone else and often sends me some of the right-wing garbage that shows up in her mailbox.

My reply suggested that those who wage war unnecessarily and who torture or kill outside the law, who urinate on the bodies of the Afghans they kill and who force prisoners to have sex with children (As happened in Iraq) are desecrating the flag far worse.

When George Bush left the White House, our nation was hated by others because of his ant-American policies and actions. Obama spent a lot of energy recovering our status as a nation of personal rights and decency. (Not that things have become perfect as this story below recognizes.)

Today’s Huffington Post has this story of NYPD and FBI invading the homes of Occupy Wall Street protesters under the pretext of old warrants and warrants for people who don’t live there.

When protesters trample on the flag, they do so to get attention to their sense of powerlessness. When government, the police and the military desecrate the constitution–and symbolically the flag–the do so with all the power of government and police. It is incomparably worse than anything a group of powerless protesters can do.

As to the anticipation that today might get violent, violence is always a possibility, but it has been more often a right-wing phenomenon. It is the police job to respond to violence, not to perpetrate it. And the history of the Occupy movement is that when there has been violence, it was perpetrated by the police. (A decorated Oakland, CA veteran of Iraq had his skull fractured last year by the police. And he was not the only victim.)

NYPD, FBI Raid Occupy Wall Street Protesters’ Homes In Anticipation Potentially Violent May Day

Posted: 05/ 1/2012 10:10 am Updated: 05/ 1/2012 10:27 am

Occupy Wall Street Nypd Fbi May Day

The NYPD has kept a close eye on the Occupy Wall Street’s May Day protestplans.

Click here for latest updates.

six page memo (see below) from the NYPD’s Shield unit reveals the department is concerned over “political fissures” in the movement which they believe could lead to violence Tuesday.

From the memo:

Political fissures that are present within the OWS movement may impact the strategies of demonstrators during individual protest actions; in particular, the Wildcat March is not an officially sanctioned OWS march and may attract militant elements from inside and outside the OWS movement that may seek to directly confront law enforcement officials using barricades, riot shields, and possibly weapons such as pipes and rocks.

(For a full schedule of May Day’s permitted and not permitted events, go here.)

In anticipation Monday, the FBI and NYPD raided the homes of protesters.

“There were a number of visits between 6:00 and 7:30 in the morning and at other points in the day that appeared to target people that primarily the NYPD, but in one instance the FBI, wanted to ask certain questions to,” Gideon Oliver, a spokesman for the National Lawyers Guild, which often represents Occupy protesters, told Buzzfeed. “Questions included things like ‘what are your May Day plans?’ ‘Do you know who the protest leaders are?’ ‘What do you know about the May Day protests?’ and such.”

Gawker reports that Zachary Dempster said 6 officers broke down the door of his Bushwick apartment at 6:15 AM, reportedly executing a warrant for the arrest of his roommate on a 6-year-old open container charge. Dempster believes, however, that cops used the raid as an excuse to question him about May Day.

And an hour later in Bed-Stuy, one of Dempster’s activist friends’ apartment–which he shares with 6 other Occupy protesters– was also paid a visit by 6 of New York’s finest. From Gawker:

The activist said police used arrest warrants for two men who no longer lived there as pretext for the raid. The officers ran the IDs of everyone who was in the apartment, then booked our source when they discovered he had an outstanding open container violation. Police never asked about Occupy Wall Street or May Day, but our source said the message was clear: We’re watching you.

“We’re experienced at accommodating lawful protests and responding appropriately to anyone who engages in unlawful activity, and we’re prepared to do both,” NYPD spokesman Paul Browne told Bloomberg.

The NYPD trained for the protests on Randall’s Island this weekend, preparing for one of their busiest days this year. As Salon notes, “Conveniently, New York will see increased security and police vigilance on May 1, following warnings from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security about potential terror risks on the anniversary of Osama Bin Laden’s death.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sunday at a press conference about preparing for the protests, “We will do what we normally do and find the right balance.”

Bloomberg also questioned the point of the protests. “If you want to change things, I don’t know what protesting does,” he said, according to CBS. “Why not try to go out and do something and make it better. Help kids get a better education. Start a business. There’s a lot of ways that you can volunteer and help make this city better and this country better.”

Touted as a “day without the 99 percent,” Occupy organizers hope to disrupt New Yorker’s morning commutes before a day of actions that will culminate in a solidarity march from Union Square at 4PM, down to Wall Street.


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