Homeland security and ‘control of the sidewalks’

At the Guardian, Naomi Wolf describes her arrest the other night at an Occupy Wall Street protest. It began as Wolf, who was attending a Huffington Post event, insisted on the protesters’ rights to march outside the Huffpo event, so long as they didn’t prevent anyone from entering it.

He [police officer] gave me a look of pure hate. “Are you going to back down?” he shouted. I stood, immobilised, for a moment. “Are you getting out of my way?” I did not even make a conscious decision not to “fall back” – I simply couldn’t even will myself to do so, because I knew that he was not giving a lawful order and that if I stepped aside it would be not because of the law, which I was following, but as a capitulation to sheer force. In that moment’s hesitation, he said, “OK,” gestured, and my partner and I were surrounded by about 20 officers who pulled our hands behind our backs and cuffed us with plastic handcuffs….

Another scary outcome I discovered is that, when the protesters marched to the first precinct [where they thought Wolf was being held], the whole of Erickson Street was cordoned off – “frozen” they were told, “by Homeland Security”. Obviously if DHS now has powers to simply take over a New York City street because of an arrest for peaceable conduct by a middle-aged writer in an evening gown, we have entered a stage of the closing of America, which is a serious departure from our days as a free republic in which municipalities are governed by police forces.

The police are now telling my supporters that the permit in question gave the event managers “control of the sidewalks”. I have asked to see the permit but still haven’t been provided with it – if such a category now exists, I have never heard of it; that, too, is a serious blow to an open civil society. What did I take away? Just that, unfortunately, my partner and I became exhibit A in a process that I have been warning Americans about since 2007: first they come for the “other” – the “terrorist”, the brown person, the Muslim, the outsider; then they come for you – while you are standing on a sidewalk in evening dress, obeying the law.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 10 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. iamuglow says:

    Bully for her. This can’t be tolerated.

    “the whole of Erickson Street was cordoned off – “frozen” they were told, “by Homeland Security”. “

  2. POA says:

    When we allowed George Bush to establish “Free Speech Zones”, we threw away our rights as a society allowed to openly protest what is obviously becoming a facist governing body.

    The lack of empowering “law” behind Wolf’s arrest should come as no suprise to us, considering the lack of accountability before the law that our “leaders” enjoy.

    The “law” has become whatever they tell us the “law” is.

    “It” exists for no other reason than to protect their agenda.

    You doubt it?

    Then please, tell me why monkey boy Bush and the satanist Cheney are not rotting in a Federal Prison?

    • Theo says:

      Because they own the prison, the law enforcement, the judiciary, the money centers, the CIA, the FBI and the Pentagon, with their associates.
      Is there anything else worthvile left?

  3. pabelmont says:

    Would have been just as objectionable — if not quite so easy to object to — had the complainant been one of the “other” (a hard concept in our USA’s majority person-of-color population where, numerically, so-called “white” people should be the “other”.

  4. In Greece, presently, the situation is very tense as well.

    “Firefighters were called in late on Wednesday to extinguish piles of rubbish set ablaze by protesters in Athens after riots broke out during a demonstration by about 100-thousand people on the first of a two-day general strike. Violence spread across the centre of the city earlier in the day, following the massive anti-government rally against painful new austerity measures. Authorities said about 3,000 police were deployed on the capital’s streets.”

  5. Kate says:

    Sorry, Pabelmont, but the US is not a “majority person-of-color population” yet, not by a long shot. From link to 2010.census.gov
    “While the non-Hispanic white alone [that is, not mixed with any other race] population increased numerically from 194.6 million to 196.8 million over the 10-year period, its proportion of the total population declined from 69 percent to 64 percent.
    “The overwhelming majority (97 percent) of the total U.S. population reported only one race in 2010. This group totaled 299.7 million. Of these, the largest group reported white alone (223.6 million), accounting for 72 percent of all people living in the United States.”
    The difference between the 64% and the 72% is presumably accounted for by ‘white Hispanics’, who apparently do not view themselves as ‘persons of color’.

  6. Theo says:

    America, the home of the free and the brave, shining star of all democratic societies, the dispenser of human rights all over our globe.
    Or is it just another Germany 1933. the beginning of a regime of terror?
    Hell, HS has already deportation camps set up, with barbed wire, watchtowers and all the goodies needed for a nice vacation for those, who do not comply with the new World Order.

  7. Les says:

    Here’s the link to her story as she herself reported to the Guardian, with the sub-headline

    “Arresting a middle-aged writer in an evening gown for peaceable conduct is a far cry from when America was a free republic”

    link to guardian.co.uk

  8. Taxi says:

    NPR host’s involvement in Occupy D.C. leads to her firing from another show:
    link to news.yahoo.com

    “I find it puzzling that NPR objects to my exercising my rights as an American citizen — the right to free speech, the right to peaceable assembly — on my own time in my own life.
    I’m not an NPR employee. I’m a freelancer. NPR doesn’t pay me. I’m also not a news reporter. I don’t cover politics. I’ve never brought a whiff of my political activities into the work I’ve done for NPR World of Opera. What is NPR afraid I’ll do — insert a seditious comment into a synopsis of Madame Butterfly?”
    Lisa Simeone, the host of the nationally syndicated ‘World of Opera’ show, and former weekend host of ‘All Things Considered’.

  9. Wake up and smell the fascism.

    If you think it will only hurt the targeted minority (Muslims) amd some activists (like Wolf), ask for example the citizens of Dresden how they liked the firebombing of their city by the Allies during WWII.

    Many of then thought “if I just shut up and let the ‘authorities’ handle the ‘troublemakers’ (Jews, Communists, Social Democrats,…), I will be alright”.

    Well, not so.