I thought I would watch bits of this, but ended up watching the whole thing, two hours! It’s very, very interesting information, which clearly comes from years of experience in social justice movements.
Jerry Boyle from the National Lawyer’s Guild gave a two-hour training/workshop on how to deal with police at the Occupy Chicago site on October 15, 2011. It was live streamed and recorded in the process.
Anyone participating in Occupy Anything should watch this.
If you can’t watch it all, just watch a few minutes and see if it captures your attention. You can watch it in bits and chunks.
An important point made is that the Occupy movement is a political movement with political goals, and not a legal issue. (Stay with me here.) The police, under orders from political figures, might like to make it a legal issue, in other words, make it about laws being broken instead of about society being changed. The energy of the movement could then be diverted away from the political goals of the movement.
People may choose to be arrested to draw attention to the cause, but that decision should be made consciously and carefully, to avoid all energy being drawn into dealing with legal issues.
If that’s too confusing, watch the video! Jerry spends a lot more time exploring it, and does a better job of explaining it.
He also describes how police are trained to respond to protesters and how you might be tricked or steered into escalating a situation to greater violence without any intention of doing so.
For example, if a police officer grips your arm painfully and you pull away (a natural human response), you can now be charged with “resisting” a police officer and they can take the interaction to the next higher level of engagement.
There is a lot to think about in pursuing non-violent social change, and ways to prepare yourself to be more effective and not fall into traps that may be set for you, either consciously or unconsciously.
What’s the difference between police who wear blue shirts and police who wear white shirts? It’s very significant! The white shirts are supervisors and get their orders from people like the mayor. The blue-shirted officers get orders from the white shirted officers.
If a white shirted officer escalates something (like the pepper-spray into the eyes of peaceful demonstrators in NYC), that is a *political* act, meant to provoke.
If you’re interested in the Occupy Movement, and especially if you are participating physically, it’s definitely important and helpful to have a better understanding of how police are trained to deal with situations.
This can help everyone stay safe, and also empower everyone to make clear conscious decisions about how to interact with police and further the non-violent goals of the political movement.
But even if you’re not involved in the movement, this is a very interesting video about police.