In the greater realm of civil defense, homeland security, terror response, community and business continuity, and government continuity, the agencies of Homeland Security, Emergency Management, and Emergency Response have a role to play in government response to civil unrest. Certainly in mass riots that have occurred in Europe as a response to announced austerity programs, similar agencies have been involved internationally in heightened government alert.
The level of unrest to which Europe may eventually rise is yet unknown, but will emerge as the Euro Zone continues to unravel. While no-one expects countries in Europe to experience anything like what occurred in Northern Africa during the Arab Spring, Europe is nonetheless preparing for much worse events than have occurred thus far.
With this in mind, what is the size of the potential threat of civil unrest in America and what can be done through standard emergency management procedures of mitigation and preparation to reduce the likelihood of such unrest, and to prepare for adequate and proper response in the event that unrest occurs? The answer lies in determining what is the engine of unrest, how long will it persist, what outlets citizens will have for expressing their will, and what capabilities Americans will have to exercise their right of assembly in their democracy. My contention is that the answer also lies in the interplay of how authorities respond to these potential threats to civility.
As opposed to the Tea Party, in which demonstrations were more focused and directed toward political ends, this Occupy Wall Street movement seems to have deliberately steered from organized politics which it sees as part of the problem, and has instead has attempted to develop a ground swell of crowd democracy. As a result, sit-in contemporaneous councils of discussion are occurring to self discover over time the movement’s consensus of thought. This free form democracy has been seen as Anarchist or Marxist by some and thus a potential threat to civilized democracy.
America is being inundated with media that sensationalizes this less disciplined, less organized, and seemingly less responsible way of thinking. Certainly, it irritates hard working Americans to see what appear to be Anarchists disrupting traffic, shutting down businesses, harming commerce, damaging public and private property, defecating and urinating in public and the like. And just as it concerns the average citizen, it can also dislodge sensibilities of those responsible for managing crowd response.
However, when authoritative response becomes, or is perceived as becoming excessive, it feeds into the unrest. Responses such as these on the following links are now feeding into the Occupy Wall Street movement and are having the opposite effect of their intent. Rather than quelling the immediate throngs of crowds, they are feeding not only into the short term swells but are turning many otherwise passive citizens into supporters of Occupy Wall Street and potential participants in later demonstrations and clashes that could turn riotous or even deadly.
Oakland flash grenade
Police shoot demonstrator in face
Unprovoked a cameraman is shot
Bloody Occupy demonstrator
Police massive pepper spray abuse
Police brutality of students
Female protesters penned and maced
Oakland Protest war zone
Police give protester concussion
Police runs over protester
Police crackdown of veterans
Marine rants against Police brutality
In response to witnessing the initial “inappropriate” government actions, I felt it important to lay out an easily digestible context for why civil disobedience is now occurring:
My post is intended to mitigate the inundation of media hype and to place a human face on Occupy Wall Street. The movement no doubt has elements of Marxism and Anarchism within its ranks that some would find disconcerting. However, the more important and much more voluminous face of Occupy Wall Street is a disenfranchised America that has lost its voice and is attempting to find it through peaceful assembly.
With a deeper understanding of the nature of those that will increasingly fill the ranks of Occupy Wall Street, perhaps leaders in positions to determine the proper response to demonstrations will be able to redirect their forces from using tactics that appear to have overreached, and to begin to use less agitating responses that could mitigate their potential of igniting a chain of human events that might exponentially erupt into later riots and destruction as the crisis in America peaks.