Pepper spray, tear gas and good old fashioned beatings are being dished out by the police in America in an attempt to crush the occupy movement. The past week or so has seen the eviction of the occupywallst camp in Zuccotti park, and attacks on protestors have resulted in serious injuries, including a ruptured spleen suffered by army veteran Kayvan Sabehgi when he was beaten by police officers at occupy Oakland. Some of the most shocking footage I've seen this week is of police using pepper spray against peacefully protesting students at occupy UC Davis - see below.
There is also evidence that the evictions of occupy camps across America were co-ordinated, and that the local authorities were 'advised' and supported by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. The former organisation is part of the repressive apparatus put in place by the Bush administration in the wake of 9/11. All this should surprise nobody because the occupy movement is becoming an increasing embarrassment to the capitalist class and their tame politicians, because it is providing a focus for social justice and radical reform, something the ruling class can't contemplate.
This kind of brutality is nothing new. Police were used to crush the student protest movement in the US in the late 1960s, and were used to break the miner's strike in the UK in 1984. I know about the latter because I was there and witnessed it. The USA has a history of brutality and violence used by the capitalist class against popular protest and organised labour. One of the most infamous incidents was the Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921 in which 15,000 armed miners battled with the police for five days, as a result of the brutality of the mine owners' attempts to crush the union, until the army intervened . In the UK we have seen recent moves by the police to intimidate protesters with heavy handed police tactics and plain clothes snatch squads reminiscent of the Stasi in the German Democratic Republic. Before the recent student demo on 9 November the police announced they were to deploy rubber bullets. All this is beginning to look like a police state. Just compare these two videos; the first is of plainclothes police arresting a student in Iran; and the second is plainclothes police arresting a student in London on the 9 November. Spot the difference? There isn't one.
Of course, as the occupiers have pointed out - 'you can't evict an idea'. In the UK Occupy London have responded to an attempt to evict the camp at St Pauls by taking over an empty building owned by bankers USB. They have called this event the "Bank of Ideas", this is a brilliant coup, and one which keeps them one step ahead of the capitalists class's attempts to close them down. That is what the occupy movement will have to do; stay peaceful, stay leaderless, think on its feet and continue to outwit the police and the so-called 'free' press.
What the crackdowns on protest in America have shown us is that there is really very little difference between the ruling class in the USA and in Egypt. The former may prefer to use lawyers and wear suits but they are just as determined to deny people their rights, criminalise protest and use brute force to hang on to power. Teargas and brutality are being used on peaceful protestors by both regimes as I type this. Again, spot the difference.