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Crushing Occupy: Riot police and undercover agents

Published time: December 12, 2011 06:29
Edited time: December 14, 2011 12:24

Occupy San Francisco protesters listen to speakers next to a Che Guevara flag at the Justin Herman Plaza in the early hours on December 8, 2011 in San Francisco, California (AFP Photo / Kimberly White)

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The US police continue to play cat and mouse with the Occupy movement, having torn down the last remaining Occupy Wall Street camp in San Francisco, arresting 55 people for illegal lodging.

The tents of the almost three-month-old movement have already been cleared several times but sprung up again when the main Occupy encampment in the city was demolished last Wednesday.

These last three months have seen a lot of police activity, with tactics changing several times against an entirely non-violent protest movement. Reports of mass arrests being made while peaceful protesters stand by chanting “Shame on you!” have become routine.

The latest crackdown on protesters on America’s West coast has seen 55 people arrested over the weekend in San-Francisco as they rallied in front of the Federal Reserve building.

In this instance, protesters had built no structures to protect themselves, and campers were easily pulled out of their tents and sleeping bags by a police contingent outnumbering them 2:1.

The local authorities have adopted a law prohibiting sitting or lying down on public sidewalks at certain hours of the day. The protesters attempted to circumvent the new municipal legislation by invoking the  First Amendment which guarantees freedom of speech and should have outweighed the local laws, allowing the protesters to continue to exercise their rights.

But as enthusiastic police activity continued unchecked, it became clear that the First Amendment does not outweigh anything in America these days.

The latest police raid in San Francisco has effectively cleared out the last remaining OWS protester camp.

The US authorities have used a variety of pretexts to shut down Occupy camps across the country.  All in all, about 5,000 protesters have been arrested over the last three months.

Many in the movement fear their message could vanish together with their tents.

This Monday, in order to re-energize the movement, they plan to block major ports on the West coast, from California to Alaska, by marching into them. The idea is to highlight economic inequalities in the country’s financial system, which they say is unfairly tilted toward the wealthy.

Given the track record of police brutality towards the movement, with pepper spray, tear gas and batons being used repeatedly on non-violent demonstrators, concerns are rising that the port marches might also turn ugly.

Not content with pepper spray and tear gas, the police are now devising fresh methods to deal with the movement. It has been revealed that undercover police officers infiltrated Occupy LA tent camps last month to find out how the protesters plan to resist an eviction and as well as to spy on people suspected of not properly disposing of human waste.