Monday, October 03, 2011


Corporations and political parties pay police and arrange for settlement insurance so cops can go wild

by Larry Geller

When I posted the earlier article, Democracy Now hadn’t yet made transcripts available, and I hadn’t listened to the next segment in the program.

I complained that police will act however they wish because the taxpayers will pay for the resulting settlements (and of course, police themselves are seldom charged with breaking the law or convicted if tried). I didn’t know that private corporations were also subsidizing police lawlessness. This is from the second segment of today’s program (please see the story itself to identify the speakers quoted below):

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, It’s very significant when you have the private corporations supporting public police force. And the same thing in Minneapolis, in St. Paul, during the conventions, also in Denver for the Democratic convention. But, in St. Paul, during the 2008 RNC, they negotiated a special insurance provision with the Republican host committee so that the first $10 million in liabilities for lawsuits arising from the convention would be covered by the host committee.

MARINA SITRIN: Similarly in 2000 in Philadelphia with the Republican National Convention. So, this is actually a pattern we’re starting to see more and more.

[Democracy Now, 700 Arrested on Brooklyn Bridge as Occupy Wall Street Enters Third Week, Protests Grows Nationwide, 10/3/2011]

Because of this history, we simply can’t believe any level of government (city, state or federal) which assures us that police will act appropriately during APEC 2011 in Honolulu.

Our government is clearly choosing which “people” it will protect, and those people are not us. Here’s another snip from the long article:

MARINA SITRIN: I think we have seen this a few times before, but it is an attempt, in our opinion as both a legal group and I think also the activist group, to intimidate people so that they don’t come out into the street. Including last weekend, it was wrapping people in that net on the sidewalk. Which is very similar to the police allowing people to walk somewhere and then wrapping them up again. So, kind of giving the impression that where ever you go, you are not safe from potential arrest, and I think it is a potential message to people around the country, who are continuing to organize, that if you go out in the street, if you go on the sidewalk, there’s really nowhere where you could potentially be safe if you want to exercise your right to protest and to organize.

LAURIE PENNY: Well, what I found fascinating, being at Wall Street, is how similar it is to protests that I’ve seen in London over the past 6 months. And I’ve talked to activists from Spain and elsewhere who’ve said that this is exactly the same thing, just a slight cultural differences. But, it’s exactly the same; open space, non-hierarchical leadership structure, your free kitchens, your welcoming atmosphere. It’s really, really, very similar and it’s striking to me how much this seems to be not about America or about any individual country, but about a global uprising. You’ve seen from below, really with no real clear direction, but a kind of defined sense that something needs to change. Of course, the reaction of the authorities is very, very similar as well. Kettling became more well known when it was used in London over the winter. It really is a form of collective punishment when it was used the mass student protests outside the houses of Parliament and in White Hall in December and November. Those were thousands and thousands of young people, many of whom were taken out and arrested, some of whom were targeted later. And, as has been said, it’s really a form of collective punishment designed to show people that they can’t come out onto the streets, that they can’t come out and dissent. It’s designed to deter dissent. In a age where, really, the people in power don’t have much else to offer people. They don’t have any, really, other reason to tell them not to come out and dissent. When I was marching up to the bridge the other day, I got a little chill down my spine when I heard somebody a few steps ahead of me say, "Well, they can’t arrest everyone," and I was like, yes, yes they can; having been in London. That’s when I decided to leave because it seemed like something big was going to happen.

Was the HPD suppression of the free speech rights of the two Waikiki protesters just a feeble attempt to try their hand at the same thing? Does our one remaining daily newspaper really support prosecution of legal protestors? Can we expect police to behave in November should there be street protests?

More interesting to me—this is Hawaii, not bad old New York. Can we find a way to avoid scenes such as we’re seeing on the Internet from the Occupy Wall Street protests or that we saw earlier from cities hosting other national or international conventions? Do we have to corral (“kettle”) unresisting demonstrators and then pepper-spray their eyes? The whole world learned something about New York’s finest with that viral video, we should try to avoid spoiling Hawaii’s image with similar scenes.

Rest assured, HPD is conferring with the military, Secret Service, perhaps the National Guard and others, to set up some kind of “control” for demonstrations in November. Security is an important consideration, and any violent disruption (for example, a bombing) could destroy tourism, the prime mover of our economy. Can they do that while respecting the civil liberties of those who may choose to march legally to express their Constitutionally protected opinions?

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Thanks for focussing on this, Larry. But I am a bit surprised by your closing paragraph. We do not have to assume HPD is conferring with other agencies. The methodology of repression has become a highly advanced, specialized field of knowledge. There is a standard, militarized response to public demonstrations of discontent. The federal government has helped standardize this militarized response by setting up "fusion centers" in major cities. The Hawaii fusion center is called "the Pacific Regional Intelligence Clearinghouse." What is "fused" are the responses of the various law enforcement, security forces and "first responder" government agencies. HPD will not be the lead agency in this. I expect that will fall to the Secret Service and other federal security experts who specialize in managing these "national security events." HPD officers, up and down the ranks, will simply jump when told to jump. They tend to get jittery when the "big boys" assume control.

There are legitimate security concerns about the APEC gathering, including the possibility of an assassination attempt or some other terrorist act. But the main reason Hawaii was chosen as the location for APEC is because their gatherings have become a target for mass outpourings of legitimate anger when they are held in places where large numbers of people can gather to express that anger. Because Hawaii is located so far from anywhere else, the security forces of the corporate elite have decided there is little risk of embarrassing demonstrations.

It is ironic how Hawaii's isolation for millions of years created a place with so many unique species and, for thousands of years, allowed for the evolution of an island culture obliged to become as sustainable as it could. That same isolation allows the world's corporate and political elite to gather with little scrutiny and plot how to continue their rape and expropriation of the Asia-Pacific region. And Hawaiian culture is being expropriated to tell us all to "bid them Aloha."

The Buddhist in me appreciates the sad irony. As a remote, tropical place of great natural beauty, social stability, gentle climate, political stability and sanitation, Hawaii is becoming integrated into the global economy as a second (or third) home for the wealthiest people in the world. By coming here for the APEC summit, undoubtedly more of the kleptocratic Asia-Pacific corporate elite will take a fancy to our place and will purchase luxury condos and beachfront real estate. Isn't "progress" wonderful"?

BTW, your article and these comments are undoubtedly being scrutinized by professionals attached to the APEC public relations AND security operations. It is not just the Waikiki cameras which are engaged in increased surveillance.

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