I wasn’t clear why or at what point the group of women who were maced at the Occupy Wall Street protest was roped off, but it seemed that in order to separate them from the rest of the crowd, they were confined to a space behind orange nets, surrounded by uniformed male (at least mostly) police officers. The women seemed to be yelling in support of a fellow protestor and then in horror at his gross violent mistreatment by the police. Caught like animals, they were unable to leave the orange net.
First, I’d like to ask: What happened to protecting women? But we’re way past that anyway. And that’s the system. A system where people can’t protest is a system that allows for heinous crimes like rape and murder to happen, because it becomes harder and harder to speak up. It’s already hard.
These women were easy targets. Mace people who you have corralled off and can’t go anywhere.
The officer who came up and sprayed them must have found it easy to do, even if unconsciously. Perhaps somewhere inside of him he thought: Look at these women. They are not behaving like women should behave. Women should be agreeable and pleasant. They should be at home and they should be quiet. This is what society expects from women. If we are not that, we are bitches, or feminists, or whores, or sluts, or ridiculous or hysterical or stupid or…. So it just makes sense that the officer would want to run up quickly like a coward, shoot his mace spray, and shut them up. So what if they are then screaming in pain. Isn’t that what they deserve for not fulfilling the role they should? Isn’t that what they get for making waves and not just going along with the corruption they are protesting?
I don’t recall seeing footage of anyone macing the Tea Party people during their demonstrators. Apparently this ain’t no Tea Party.
On the Occupy Wall Street website (where you can see the footage of the macing), it says: “The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%.”
So, the police are acting violently toward people who say they are part of the 99%. But the cops aren’t rich, they’re part of the 99% too. Of course protests can be such a hassle. Right? Or maybe they don’t realize the protestors are also standing up for them. Maybe they have to protect the interests of the rich. Hate to lose your job over a disagreement about whether or not it’s okay for a few people to be getting wealthier as the majority of people grow poorer. Or maybe it’s the American dream, they’re all still hoping they’ll be in that 1% some day. They’re working hard, saying their prayers, and crossing their fingers.
And isn’t it what we supposedly take pride in America for, that we can protest and speak out against our goverment, against capitalism, against whatever we want?
But can we?
Certainly some people won’t go protest if they worry they might get hurt or killed. No one was killed, but who’s to say they might not be killed by the force police were shown to be executing and with the random acts of violence like macing the corralled women.
So should the macing officer’s name and information have been released? I’m inclined to say no, but if he can’t act appropriately and is using his power to harm others, he needs to be made accountable. It has been made clear in the past that the police will often not follow up with consequences for misuse of power and displays of uncontrolled violence. Should the information of sex offenders be posted on the internet? Some might argue no. But maybe this officer’s information being released is also just a consequence of his inappropriate use of power. Hopefully no one does anything to harm him, but maybe he’ll act appropriately knowing people know where to find him if he doesn’t.
Women often have children with them. Would this protest be a place you would take your child? Uh, no. And not because of the protestors, because of the police.
I want American children to see they live in a country where everyone can use their voice to speak up, not just those with money or with whatever privilege, like skin color, ethnicity, ability, sexual orientation, gender expression…
I want them to see that in this country women are treated with respect always. Especially when we use our voices to speak.