My only experience with protests is the marches in the months before the Iraq War, where the primary frustrations were the arbitrary and clearly provocative actions by the New York police. Even those were relatively mild though, and nothing compared to the images of wildly excessive brutality that are coming in from across the country.
I’m not sure why, but some of the most resonant for me in recent days have had to do with pepper spray. Perhaps it’s the fact that it is being used in such exorbitant amounts, or that it is being used to subdue protest by torture. Anyway, in the spirit of Sociological Images, I wanted to collect some here for my own remembrance of this particular time and social dynamic.
An 84-year-old woman:
From Portland, where a branch of JP Morgan was “threatened,” an image that will be hard to forget:
For some perspective, consider that the grandmother, the young woman and the seated students were enough of a threat to someone’s interests to merit being shot with pepper spray, while this behavior at an Obama rally was deemed perfectly acceptable (from TPM):
Looking at all of this from a social systems perspective, it seems clear that OWS has identified a pressure point that is triggering a profound response at multiple levels from interests that feel feel sufficiently threatened to drop any pretense of the civic. It seemed to me before the war that the worst thing was the political non-response to the protests, but that was clearly wrong – judging by the relative responses, questioning the stranglehold of big finance on the economy is much more threatening to the power structure than questioning a needless war.
11/19/11: Garance Franke-Ruta has a comprehensive collection of images and videos at the Atlantic, along with some good commentary.