Blue Byline

A cop's perspective of the news and South Sound matters

Fighting for ideals in the real world

Post by Brian O'Neill on Oct. 31, 2011 at 3:56 pm with 43 Comments »
November 1, 2011 6:47 am

The answer: 415 million

The question: What are the number of hits when you google “Occupy Wall Street”?

The national frenzy, which physically occupies both Main Street’s city halls and Wall Street itself, has our collective attention. This amorphous phenomenon has resonated in the consciousness of millions of people in our country and throughout the world.

Not a bad effort for six weeks.

Now that the honeymoon is over there are many wondering where Occupy Wall Street is heading. I wondered that myself in my last column (“OWS: Throwing Rocks and Losing Relevance”), a piece in which I was sharply critized by several proponents of the movement. Their main objection, at least in my biased summation, was the negative portrayal of protesters following violent clashes with police, especially in Oakland, CA.

I admit that this was an oversimplification on my part. Though one of my main objectives in this column is to provide a backstage pass to police work, I would be disingenuous to ignore the experiences and views of readers in return. In other words, point taken.

Mea culpas aside, the Occupy Movement needs to make the transition from an idea to a plan. This appears to be the sentiment of other opinion writers, including those who openly support the movement’s principles (see today’s print editorial pages for an excerpt from the Kansas City Star).

For the first time since the tidal wave of protests surged out of NYC on September 17, the ripples are losing energy. The scientific reason for such a systemic energy loss would be the competing force of friction and time. In this analogy, the pundits (i.e. Fox News) are providing the friction, but the protesters themselves are responsible for allowing the time to pass without taking full advantage of the intensity of this wave.

To further flog the analogy, the point has now been reached where idealism is less a sail and more an anchor.

In the pragmatic and intersecting worlds of politics and economics realists enjoy the greatest success. Idealism can be a force for change, but if it fails to take solid form then idealism is a concept with an expiration date.

This appears to be a sticking point for many avid Occupy-ers who proudly exclaim that no leader, no selected committee, no group should be allowed to speak for them at the table.

Instead, many advocates are so invested that they view any critique of the movement’s actions as a direct attack on the substance of the message (remember, “I support the soldiers, not the war”). Shooting the messenger is counterproductive.

The Occupy movement needs to find its next step without alienating a huge percentage of the 99% it claims to represent. There are many of us–a legion of citizens more comfortable with a remote control than a protest sign–who have heard your message. And we like what we hear.

Now we are just waiting to see the plan.


Leave a comment Comments → 43
  1. As a member of the silent community, I agree with you Brian. When I first saw the protests I wondered what all the fuss was about. After watching and reading over the past weeks I have come to the realization that there really is a message that I can relate to, but where do we go from here? Thanks Brian for taking my thoughts and putting them out there to be discussed. I often think you are my alter ego because you are able to articulate what I am thinking! Thanks!

  2. Brian O'Neill says:

    Thanks, Faye.

  3. notyouneek says:

    Well Brian and Faye I have a suggestion. Come join the movement. It needs thoughtful and skilled citizens actively participating in order for it to become the things you think it should.

    You are not required to sleep in the park to join. Come to a GA, pick or form a work group to join and be the solution.

    Brian I believe you may be the perfect person to head up a police liaison work group for Occupy Tacoma.

  4. LuckyCharm says:

    Like this, Brian?

    If you were tuned into the movement at all, you’d know about these kinds of things.

  5. The biggest issues the ows “movement” has are related to the tea party issues. In other words, both groups are angry at something, yet they’re inable to articulate what they are mad at, and show signs of hypocrisy when questioned. The tea party is angry about taxes, yet want to keep their entitlements (medicare, social security, etc). The ows want to end wall street corrupting our government, yet support Obama, who took more wall street money than any other candidate in US history, and that the democrats are just as corrupt as the GOP when dealing with lobbyists and crony appointments.

    The only real difference between the two movements is the violence inherent in the left’s mob rules mentality. I don’t recall seeing poilice in riot gear tossing tear gas into a tea party rally or making blanket arrests of 20 somethings begging to be taken to jail. Well, that and the co-opting of the homeless and street bums looking for free handouts.

  6. rivitman says:

    “The only real difference between the two movements is the violence inherent in the left’s mob rules mentality”

    Mission accomplish Brian. You can move on now. Your work here is done.

    “I don’t recall seeing poilice in riot gear tossing tear gas into a tea party rally”

    No you don’t. But that says more about how government is responding to a groups politics than a particular groups actions.

  7. Gandalf, the Tea party was a fake grass roots movement by people who want more and more, but who have quite a bit already. Surveys have shown that most are middle class, white, have comfortable salaries or pensions, medical insurance, etc. You know, the people who already have theirs, but don’t want others to be able to live as they do. It has huge money support by the Koch Brothers who paid for the permits, police protection, clean up, portable bathrooms, transportation, food, campgrounds, etc.

    The Occupy movement is made up of people who do not have much, cannot afford the permits or the other costs that are put on them to exercise their right to free assembly. Like so much in America, you can exercise your “free” rights if you have the ability to pay for them, but not if you are poor.

    So far, in the USA, the movements have been very peaceful (more peaceful than Canadian hockey fans, for sure) and have not been particularly violent, in contradiciton of your assertion that violence is “inherent” in the left.

    Some anarchists have been involved in violence, (as have been Tea Party activists who infiltrated the OWS movement to create disruptions to make it look bad) but since these people are much closer to the right-wing, anti-government movements, especially libertarians, I certainly wouldn’t classify them as liberals, who generally are anti-violence and tend to see government as a positive force in our society.

  8. BlaineCGarver says:

    Tuddo, you are either really stupid or really inventive….what a line of BS you’re trying to sell.


    “they’re inable to articulate”


  9. BlaineCGarver says:

    Brian, there are no doubt some sincere thoughts and issues that need to be addressed, but they will have to take it all off the street, because the Party is attracting too many Commies/anarchists/dopers/criminals/pickpockets……Personally, I view an overt crowd by the lowest common denominator….and so does everybody else.

  10. smcelhiney says:

    It is interesting that those poo pooing the movement are basing their opinions on news stories… not on actually going to see what is going on. This column is a prime example. You state as fact that the movement is losing momentum… based on what? You have’t been to an Occupation camp, you haven’t talked to the people there or at the marches, you are basing your statement on what the very people who have been dismissing the movement have been saying from day 1.

  11. Blaine, if you viewed the Tea Party by its lowest common denominator you would think it was a pack of racist skin heads. That’s who was parading around Dallas with thje tea party gatherinjg I went to along with sincere folk.

    I am not quite sure whagt offense you are taking to my post. Could you please point out a specific misstatement or non-factual sattement I made.

    I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but my facts are always solid.

  12. scott0962 says:

    Cut tuddo some slack, he or she is obviously the product of a public school education.

  13. Brian O'Neill says:

    Lucky Charm- Your reply suggests that you are the person I am trying to reach (and apparently failing to do so). My guess is that the majority of people out there are like me. By that I mean that we appreciate the message and are ready to support it; we are simply waiting to do so in the American political forum.

    I thank you for the petition referral, but I just can’t shake the feeling that many advocates of the movement are angry with anyone unwilling to commit civil disobedience on its behalf.

  14. henrymoonfortune says:

    Here’s another link if you’re wondering about the movement’s goals or “demands:”

    And let’s not forget the constitutional convention the movement is planning for July 4, 2012.

  15. Brian O'Neill says:

    rivitman- Please do not attribute someone else’s quotes to me. I don’t necessarily agree with the author’s point, and do not want anyone else speaking on my behalf.

    And for the record, I disagree with your point as well. I have been on a few picket lines, and I can’t say anyone in uniform really cares one way or another about any groups’ reasons for demonstrating.

    I believe most people would want the police to be objective in this arena.

  16. Brian O'Neill says:

    smcelhiney- Thanks for the front line perspective. From my perspective, sitting at home watching TV or driving with the radio on, the movement is devolving from the standpoint of spreading its message of government/ corporate reform. When the CEO’s watch the demonstrations, the clashes with cops, and the fights then they know that they are out of the national spotlight for a while.

  17. smokey984 says:

    Exactly, because these CEO’s/Politicians have the Police in their back-pockets so to speak carrying out all their little dirty work as they continue to collect millions in bonuses after taking a government bailout paid for by the tax paying citizens. Make sense?

  18. As I mentioned, Brian, in America if you have enough money to pay off the police, then they generally will not attack you for no reason at all, like they did in Oakland. In the Dallas Tea Party rally I attended, the police were paid double time by the organizers and, even though the rally went well past the curfew hour and past the permit times, the police did nothing. The “Tea” people served was wine, which is illegal in Dallas parks, but the police turned the other eye because they were paid off.

    I am more convinced than ever after watching the news helicopter footage of the protesters in Oakland standing calmly by until flash bangs and tear gas went off that there was no provocation. The chief of Oakland police still says his people did not use flash bangs or dowels, but “associated” police forces who were there assisting could have (There is too much footage of such for him to deny it altogether).

    I see, Brian, you have toned down your observations from “criminal behavior” and “violence” from your first post to “civil disobedience” (standing still even when asked to vacate, I presume you are meaning). Is there a difference in your mind? There sure is in mine.

    I agree that the Oakland protesters were exhibiting civil disobedience, calmly standing still, most of them like statues, after having been given a 15 minute warning. They thought they would be arrested and have to pay a fine. Then the police violence started, almost everyone ran out of the park, but some returned to help a fallen vet when the police refused to assist.

    The police shot tear gas directly at the group of people trying to help the injured man, (they were not attacking the police) and the police started their clubbing and beating of that small group. So now people think the entire protest was violent and repeat that nonsense based on absolutely no evidence.

    So,when the police start their violence, it makes the CEO’s happy, because people like you and others will twist it around to make it look like the protesters were violent.

  19. Good article Brian, I also await a political leader to surface. OTOH I believe tuddo is correct in his remarks about the arrests in Oakland.

  20. Earth_watch says:

    Brian, you perhaps should be careful to specify that this is your opinion, and not insinuate it is all cops’ opinion… (unless you truly took a poll and the overwhelming clear majority of TPD also says they just can’t comprehend this movement?)

    For those who continue to say this movement lacks focus, here it is in a nutshell:

    OWS for Dummies

    The movement does not lack focus (I guess it’s the average person’s short attention span, thanks to be being conditioned to snappy forgettable news-bites, which makes it seem so). This is a powerful movement, identifying a serious wrong and unifying those who know the wrong must be corrected… even if we don’t know exactly how at the moment. I believe the movement will continue to grow and evolve, and effective plans will come in time… meanwhile I’m grateful to the “occupiers” who are assisting in the daily public reminder, and proving that we can retain a view (longer than a commercial break) for a worthy cause.

  21. Earth_watch says:

    … and, actually, a perfect example of how “effective” the OWS movement already is: in the last week, the movement has called for citizens to pull their money out of big banks (which screwed us and then got a government bailout for it) to instead put their money into local banks and credit unions. When Bank of America just tried to implement a $5.00 debit card fee, enough people were aware of the movement and began closing their accounts… enough so that BoA reversed the fee.

    That’s the first time I can recall that BoA did anything it didn’t want to do.

  22. Earth_watch – Are you trying to claim that BOA’s change of heart was due to ows’s call for massed bank withdrawal? You’re kidding, right?

  23. BlaineCGarver says:

    Tuddo….I am not “offended” by anything….I do claim that your view of The OWS and the Tea Party are totally skewed by extreme bias….

    This is a researched list of where OWS money and support is coming from….I doubt that people would associate themselves with this rabble unless they WERE such rabble.

  24. Blaine, I got a laugh out of your link. Its hard to take a blogger named “zombie” seriously who refuses to identify himself, his sources or other information and has a fetish for posting photos of “scrotal inflation” on his site. “Researched list”, indeed.

  25. BlaineCGarver: Ok I held my nose then clicked on the link you provided. What junk, no wonder you hold the views you do, if you really believe this you are truly gullible. You say its researched, because the article says so LOL.

  26. ipsut, maybe Blaine was just trying to prove his “lowest common denominator” approach to judging groups and he is having a “Ha, ha, made you look” moment. “zombie” may or may not be the lowest common denominator on that website, but I certainly did make some judgements based on his being showcased there.

    I feel a duty to warn others that if you follow the link and click on zombie’s bio and reach his personal blog, be ready for lots of total nudity, fetishisms and other adult-only material.

  27. Brian O'Neill says:

    Earthwatch- Having been on the planet for a few decades, and having met a few people–politicians, businessmen, drug addicts, assorted criminals and down-to-earth good people–I feel confident identifying myself as a moderate. A guy in the middle of the road. What I am trying to convey is that occupying this position is, in the average cop shop, the equivalent of a left-wing liberal. Police officers are conservatives, by and large. What do you expect from people whose profession requires them to determine between either legal or illegal, right or wrong?

    So, yes, I am conveying an overvall opinion of the large majority of law enforcement officers based on my experience.

  28. serendipity says:

    The Vietnam War did not end over peaceful protests. Students were shot and killed at Kent State by armed National Guards. Brian, in the “real world” the government does not listen to the people until the people step up. It’s unfortunate some choose to break windows, but since the foot patrol and National Guard have the weapons, we fear you, not the opposite.

  29. smokey984 says:

    Oakland PD Pulls Rug From Under City Government!

    Oakland police union: ‘We are confused’ about Quan

    PD Says Part of 99%! A revolt within the ranks of law enforcement is spreading. True and honorable warriors are choosing which side of the line they wish to stand on. And at the same time they ask a fundamentally honest, simple question which absolutely eviscerates Oakland City government. Tomorrow’s one of those good and bad days, I think I’m going to have to keep CNN on all day for both the General Strike in Oakland and the Dow starting to capitulate on Europe… Pass the popcorn!

    “That’s hundreds of city workers encouraged to take off work to participate in the protest against ‘the establishment,’ ” said the union, which represents 645 officers. “But aren’t the mayor and her administration part of the establishment they are paying city employees to protest? Is it the city’s intention to have city employees on both sides of a skirmish line?”

    This may be the watershed moment when we discover that we truly have reached the Hundredth Monkey. Adelante! — MCR

  30. A cop that looks for logic where he can find it.

  31. smokey984 says:

    Without Money For Gas, Police In N.C. Town May Stop Responding To Some ‘911’ Calls

    The budget vice continues to squeeze law enforcement everywhere. I have a stupid suggestion… How about not spending the money on The Occupy Movement and spending it on actual crime instead. — MCR

    Coming to a city near you!!!

  32. smokey984 says:

    oh ya baby! call me crazy!

    Judge tells Tennessee police to stop arresting Occupy protesters

    Nashville – A federal judge has granted a temporary restraining order that bars the state from enforcing a policy that provided for a curfew for protests held at Legislative Plaza which resulted in the arrest of dozens of individuals involved in Occupy Nashville.

  33. smokey984 says:

    Oh ya, you guys are gonna love this!

    An Open Letter to the Citizens of Oakland from the Oakland Police Officer’s Association

    1 November 2011 – Oakland, Ca.

    We represent the 645 police officers who work hard every day to protect the citizens of Oakland. We, too, are the 99% fighting for better working conditions, fair treatment and the ability to provide a living for our children and families. We are severely understaffed with many City beats remaining unprotected by police during the day and evening hours.

    As your police officers, we are confused.

    On Tuesday, October 25th, we were ordered by Mayor Quan to clear out the encampments at Frank Ogawa Plaza and to keep protesters out of the Plaza. We performed the job that the Mayor’s Administration asked us to do, being fully aware that past protests in Oakland have resulted in rioting, violence and destruction of property.

    Then, on Wednesday, October 26th, the Mayor allowed protesters back in – to camp out at the very place they were evacuated from the day before.

    To add to the confusion, the Administration issued a memo on Friday, October 28th to all City workers in support of the “Stop Work” strike scheduled for Wednesday, giving all employees, except for police officers, permission to take the day off.

    That’s hundreds of City workers encouraged to take off work to participate in the protest against “the establishment.”

    But aren’t the Mayor and her Administration part of the establishment they are paying City employees to protest? Is it the City’s intention to have City employees on both sides of a skirmish line?

    It is all very confusing to us.

    Meanwhile, a message has been sent to all police officers: Everyone, including those who have the day off, must show up for work on Wednesday. This is also being paid for by Oakland taxpayers. Last week’s events alone cost Oakland taxpayers over $1 million.

    The Mayor and her Administration are beefing up police presence for Wednesday’s work strike they are encouraging and even “staffing,” spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for additional police presence – at a time when the Mayor is also asking Oakland residents to vote on an $80 parcel tax to bail out the City’s failing finances.

    All of these mixed messages are confusing.

    We love Oakland and just want to do our jobs to protect Oakland residents. We respectfully ask the citizens of Oakland to join us in demanding that our City officials, including Mayor Quan, make sound decisions and take responsibility for these decisions. Oakland is struggling – we need real leaders NOW who will step up and lead – not send mixed messages. Thank you for listening.

  34. Earth_watch says:

    Hi, Brian. I truly don’t believe this is a “conservative vs. liberal” movement. This is more of a “corporations with unfair advantages which benefit 1% of the population vs. all 99% others”.

    That 99% is made up of all political views. Even if most cops are conservative (on your say so), they are part of the 99%. Just because this movement may be mostly participated in by liberals, at the moment, doesn’t mean it’s a liberal movement. Conservatives may be used to believing they must oppose anything “liberals” endorse, but this is a long-life movement and over time the rest of the 99% will realize that we’re on the same side.

  35. Pacman33 says:

    I truly don’t believe this is a “conservative vs. liberal” movement. This is more of a rational, logical realists vs raucous, delusional and incendiary rabble-rousers whose ranting are preposterous and whose petitions resemble 4th grader chickenscratch.
    Harassing Brian for no other reason except for his employment in law enforcement, is despicable. These devious OWS supporters are foolish to believe readers might consider this staggering wallpaper of lies and contempt as anything except for garbage.
    The Occubaggers display their integrity with their “decorated vet” they worship as their symbol of motivation. This scumbag is the creator of the website “I hate the marinecorps dot com”. Occupy has finally found their leader; A treasonous, jew hating drug addict that has been smearing the USMC since the day he was booted. The phony movement even fed the media fake information about fractured skulls, possible surgery and critical condition for their charlatan hero. There are pictures that show the traitor not only conscious but texting with his phone immediately after their faux “Kent State” moment they have been preparing for and instigating.
    “We are all Scott Olsen”
    Yes indeed you are …. yes indeed.

  36. Earth_watch says:

    Pacman33, I don’t think anyone is harassing Brian for his profession, but for how he’s presenting himself and other policeman. You, however, certainly seem to be lumping a large group of total individuals into one negative generalization, though.

    Brian, my disagreement with many of your columns is that you say you’re trying to convey the voice of the local police while stating that police are typically “conservative” (as if that should explain the slant of your comments), however, police are not paid to follow their personal political views on the job. I thought the role of a police officer is to uphold the law in a completely unbiased and impartial manner.

    Could you post the TPD oath, please?

  37. Brian O'Neill says:

    I have since transferred to another agency from TPD, earthwatch.You’ll have to find the oath on your own. Also, my point about conservative viewpoints is that you were commenting that I have one. I do not.

  38. Earth_watch says:

    Hi Brian,

    The word “conservative” came up when you stated this:

    “Police officers are conservatives, by and large… I am conveying an overall opinion of the large majority of law enforcement officers based on my experience.”

    So, I understand that you may consider yourself a “moderate”, but the opinions in your column (as you’ve indicated, yourself) are apparently representing overall law enforcement?

    You’ve previously stated that your goal here is to offer a police perspective to the public, but we’ve just come to understand that you’re no longer part of the Tacoma Police Department… so, I’m just suggesting that it would be helpful if you make it clear in your articles: which are your own, personal, thoughts and which are your attempts to speak for all law enforcement.


  39. Brian O'Neill says:

    Earthwatch- Sounds like you are in need of clarification. Okay. I am a police officer, though I no longer work at TPD, and write this column at the request of The Trib. At all times I am speaking for myself–I thought that would have been obvious–though my perspective has been shaped by a police career that began in 1988.

  40. Earth_watch says:

    Hi Brian,

    Nope, it hasn’t been obvious(in fact, a number of people assumed the TPD asked the Tribune for this blog as a voice for them), so thanks for clarifying.

  41. Pacman33 says:

    “Pacman33, I don’t think anyone is harassing Brian for his profession.”

    How come there isn’t this same response to a very similar article I found on the Huff-Po? Helen Keller could see the perverse angle in these despicable responses. Your response is about a genuine as the fake OWS movement.

    Occupy Wall Street: From March To Melee

    This grassroots faux-test is such a fraud it only resembles astroturf. It’s actually a Cuban knock-off called “Castro-turf”. You can’t tell the difference if not for the Che’ logo.

  42. Earth_watch says:

    Hi, Pacman33. I didn’t understand your comment (or your irrational anger toward people practicing democracy), so I read the article at the weblink you posted which starts out by saying:

    “Wednesday’s anti-Wall Street protest was not one march but two. The first was an orderly, permitted procession on Broadway led by leading local labor unions that boasted 10,000 participants, according to the Associated Press. The second was a quick-moving series of confrontations that resulted in around 28 arrests, accusations of police brutality and fears that Zuccotti Park could soon be cleared out by force.”

    … and ends by saying:

    “The police repeatedly told HuffPost they were only arresting people who left the sidewalks — but why it was illegal to leave the sidewalks was not explained.
    A CBS helicopter caught images of “an officer with a baton hitting a protester as other police surrounded him and tossed the protester to the ground.”
    By the end of the night, as local TV networks like WABC talked about the evening as “easily one of the most violent confrontations between police and protesters so far,” the running marches and the resulting police reaction had cast a shadow over the peaceful, thousands-strong labor and community rally earlier in the day.”

    So, I say again… no one is harassing Brian for his profession; however, we are very concerned with the way some of those in his profession are behaving.

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