Fittingly, it wa a sad gray rainy day in New York City on the 48th anniversary of John F Kennedy’s death, ruthlessly slaughtered in Dallas on Friday, November 22, 1963, 48 years ago Tuesday at the age of 43. It reminds me of Billy Joel’s great song, Only the Good Die Young. And seeing the effects of Occupy Wall Street about me, I asked again, are we throwing our young to the wolves? The savagery exhibited by police across the nation has a commonality about it. And the AlterNet article that follows asks the right question about it: More on Police Departments’ Collusion in Defense of 1%: Who’s the Organization Coordinating Those Crackdown Calls?
Well, it turns out to be a group with the acronym PERF (Police Executive Research Forum), which would be more appropriately called PERP (Police Executive Research Perps), with their potentially life-stealing, paramilitary bent. It is, the article says, been coordinating conference calls between mayors’ offices . . . and has ties to the Department of Homeland Security. The article reads:
The little-known but influential private membership based organization has placed itself at the center of advising and coordinating the crackdown on the encampments. The Police Executive Research Forum, an international non-governmental organization with ties to law enforcement and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has been coordinating conference calls with major metropolitan mayors and police chiefs to advise them on policing matters and discuss response to the Occupy movement. The group has distributed a recently published guide on policing political events. . . .
Also, PERF can put things together for you, Mr., Mrs. or Ms. Mayor. And no one will know IT but you:
The coordination of political crackdowns on the Occupy movement has been conducted behind closed doors, with city officials and PERF refusing to say how many cities participated in the conference calls and the exact nature of the discussions. Reports of at least a dozen cities and some indication of as many as 40 accepting PERF advice and/or strategic documents include San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Portland [Oregon], Oakland, Atlanta, and Washington DC. . . . PERF coordinated a November 10 conference calls with city police chiefs across the country—and many of these cities undertook crackdowns shortly afterward.
My reaction as an American, a believer in the Constitution, and the root premise of OWS, but mostly, as a father of three grown children who could be those same young people I’m seeing beaten, pepper-sprayed, pushed, battered with billy clubs, trapped in red cages, slip-cuffed, et al, my reaction is one of deep disgust and anger. There is such a thing as the Second Amendment, which provides for free speech and the right to protest peacefully for the redress of wrongdoing. And there’s no going back on that to protect a pack of criminals from exposure.
I do understand that OWS’s very presence both frightens and offends power, in this case Wall Street, the financial community, the slack backbone of wrong-doing in America today, with an unprecedented slouching towards Armageddon given the depth, number and destructive potential of its financial crimes.
Yet, a decade ago I also remember 9/11 and the police seen as American heroes for their bravery, their lives lost or perpetually scarred to save others. And one police officer, James Zagroda’s name graces with his unflinching courage both in life and death the Victims Compensation Fund to treat first responders, still dying at a pace of 100 a year. I’m having real trouble reconciling my deep respect and love for those individuals and the cannibals I’m witnessing in endless YouTubes videos, harassing young adults who picked up the torch of free speech to root out the cancers of this financial system metastasizing in America.
And yes, I wrote articles about those police officers and other first responders getting their due health care, and especially for cancer when it was denied, the VCF saying it lacked real research and relied on “anecdotal evidence.” I pointed out and listed the lethal ingredients of the poison soup that those men drank everyday as they worked incredibly hard at Ground Zero to get Wall Street back to work, in spite of falsified reports that it was fit for human presence or habitation by FEMA and the EPA.
And I told how the Bush administration itself falsified information to keep police, firemen, EMS and volunteers working and how Giuliani pushed workers to get the work done, the evidence lost, in eight months when he had two and a half years. So was I fool to help the police when they were down? Should I have sprayed some more asbestos or heavy liquefied metals in their eyes? Until they were blinded or coughing themselves breathless? Never, ever; so why now do I read:
PERF’s current and former directors read as a who’s who of police chiefs involved in crackdowns on anti-globalization and political convention protesters resulting in thousands of arrests, hundreds of injuries, and millions of dollars paid out in police brutality and wrongful arrest lawsuits.
These current and former U.S. police chiefs—along with top ranking police union officials and representatives from Canadian and British police—have been marketing to municipal police forces and politicians their joint experiences as specialists on policing mass demonstrations.
“Marketing” means there’s a price tag attached to the services. And inevitably the police are not indemnified for their excesses and taxpayers end up paying the awards for wrongful arrest suits or injuries. What are we all doing here really by trying to inject these paramilitary groups to deter a legitimate protest movement? Am I to take pride in this use of my city taxes? In fact, Chairing PERF’s board of directors is Philadelphia Police Commissioner and former Washington D.C. Metro Police Chief Charles Ramsey, who was responsible for coordinating the police response to protests against international banking institutions including the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Those protests, and Ramsey’s response to massive anti-war demonstrations in Washington DC in the lead up the Iraq War, often resulted in preemptive mass arrest of participants that were later deemed to be unconstitutional.
Each one of those events deserved protests, lots of them, particularly the anti-war marches that lead up to the Iraq War, created on a pack of lies and which made George Bush and Company certified war criminals. Yet PERF creeps are still in the brutal mood of profiting as they go about their filthy business, as if they were striking our worst enemies not young truly patriotic Americans.
Ramsey’s predecessor as organization chair is former Philadelphia Police Commissioner and former Miami Police Chief John Timoney, who is responsible for the so called “Miami Model,” coined after the police crackdown on the 2003 Free Trade Agreement of the Americas protest. The police response to protesters in Miami lead to hundreds of injuries, yet the ACLU won multiple suits against the Miami P.D. over abuse to protesters and free speech concerns. . . . Timoney arrived in Miami with plenty of baggage. At the 2000 Republican National Convention, Timoney coordinated a crackdown that resulted in more than 420 arrests with only 13 convictions, none of which resulted in jail time. As in Miami, there was well documented abuse of some of the people arrested.
Wonderful, just wonderful! Not. Results like that deserve a sting in a gulag for Timoney and his cohorts.
Also among PERF’s directors is Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan, who was responsible for the crackdown on protesters at the 2008 Republican National Convention. That event also resulted in lawsuits, protester injuries and an outcry from the national press about police brutality and the preemptive nature of the police action.
As I remember, the protests were primarily against Bush for his preemptive war-making. It figures. This is an array of thugs, committing more punishable crimes against the Constitution than any of the wildest protestors, whose convictions are outnumbered by their arrests by hundreds of times. These are not police but mercenaries, employed in a class with Blackwater, Halliburton or XP.
They are going after young, idealistic protestors who are denying themselves the most basic of human comforts by camping out at Zuccotti Park or wherever to make the America a healthier and stronger country for the 99%. But the mercenary earns his daily living (sans health care or retirement benefits) by beating up kids, strong, brave kids who come back for more. Sure they may curse them, their mothers and fathers, maybe even spit at them in anger. But would you have them do, throw their arms around the mercenaries and thank them for the beatings, like people embraced policemen in those days after 9/11.
Realize, police and mercenaries, that you are part of the problem, not the solution to bring this country to financial health again. You are fighting for the enemy, for the economic Al-Qaeda, the financial terrorists of Wall Street who care about no one but themselves. Is this why you joined law enforcement? Is this right labor? Does it make your country stronger? No, it weakens it. Makes it open to corporate fascism waiting in the wings like some tiny Mussolini to take it over, one who’s filled with words but no truth, nothing but lies and distortions.
Think of retired Philadelphia Police Captain Ray Lewis, who joined the Wall Street protests and stood with protesters. He wore his uniform, carried signs, and he had something to say. Look at his brasscheck clip above and hear what motivated him to join the “rabble-rousers.” At heart, this is a peaceful man who had retired to live deep in the countryside to get away from it all. Why did he come back? Listen to a man who’s good at what he did as the best. His parting remark in answer to whose controlling all the New York havoc was, “Mayor Bloomberg. It’s his city. And Ray Kelly, his Commissioner works for him.”
He also commented that force should be used to protect citizens not harm them. And speaking with people, trying to ameliorate with speech, should come fist.
And then we return to PERF:
As the occupation movement grew, PERF began circulating a publication titled Managing Major Events: Best Practices from the Field. The manual . . . amounts to a how-to guide for policing political events, and gives special attention to policing “Anarchists” and “Eco Terrorists” at political events. The guide encourages the use of undercover officers and snatch squads to “grab the bad guys and remove them from the crowd.”
It urges local law enforcement to use social media to map the Occupy movement. An earlier PERF guide, Police Management of Mass Demonstrations, advocates the use of embedded media to control police messages, the use of undercover cops to infiltrate protest groups, the use and pitfalls of preemptive mass arrest, an examination of the use of less-than-lethal crowd control weapons, and general discussion weighing the use of force in crowd control.
Well, isn’t that special? As Salon.com writer Glenn Greenwald noted:
Law enforcement officials and policy-makers in America know full well that serious protests—and more—are inevitable given the economic tumult and suffering the U.S. has seen over the last three years (and will continue to see for the foreseeable future). A country cannot radically reduce quality-of-life expectations, devote itself to the interests of its super-rich, and all but eliminate its middle class without triggering sustained citizen fury.
The reason the U.S. has paramilitary police forces is precisely to control this type of domestic unrest, and it’s simply impossible to imagine not deploying it in full against a growing protest movement aimed at grossly and corruptly unequal resource distribution.
Put another way: “Dancing with the Stars” can only keep so many people anesthetized for so long. Or, as Gandhi described it, in a situation where people knew they’d been colonized: “First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they crack down.”
“We know what happens then.” Lights out: what happened to JFK 48 years ago today for firing Allen Dulles, for wanting to rid the U.S. of the CIA, for refusing to further support the Bay of Pigs attack, for wanting Congress to coin money and eliminate the Fed, for wanting to cancel the oil depletion allowances, for wanting to bring all troops home by the end of 1965, for making too many enemies of the truth. So, too, this brilliant young president was thrown to the wolves. And they continue to howl nearly five decades for fresh meat.
I’m left with a picture in my mind of the young protestor who had been hit on the head with a billy club, blood flowing into his hair, his eyes and down his face, which held a look of pain and shock. What must his parents have thought when they saw that, but to strike back at their own country’s awful system that did this to their boy. Yet this same country doesn’t do a damn thing to the crooked Wall Street big bonus operators who should be slip-cuffed and thrown into a police wagon straight to jail. It seems once more the good guys are taking it on the chin while the real perps are walking. Hopefully, it’s waking up the sleeping sheep to get in the fray. That’s my prayer for this day and for the memory of JFK.
Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer, life-long resident of New York City. An EBook version of his book of poems “State Of Shock,” on 9/11 and its after effects is now available at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. He has also written hundreds of articles on politics and government as Associate Editor of Intrepid Report (formerly Online Journal). Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.