Occupy and the Tragedy Facing the 1%

"What rights do we have?" "Why do we have to change our lifestyle to allow for people to block our streets and stop us from going to restaurants, meetings, salons, etc. Enough is enough, what about our rights?...My wife cannot go to the spa after work and we have stopped going out to eat..."  

This whining letter from a member of Washington D.C.’s 1%, which was among the documents we received at the PCJF in response to our recent FOIA requests, was apparently attention-grabbing enough to be circulated and shared between the D.C. Mayor’s office and the D.C. Chief of Police as they contemplated whether to follow the example of other big-city mayors and law enforcement agencies and try to close down an Occupy encampment in the nation’s capital.

When the 1% speaks (or just whines) -- politicians listen. “Whose streets?” “Their streets” it seems.

In the wake of apparently coordinated police raids and evictions on Occupy encampments around the country, the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund has undertaken a major Freedom of Information Act initiative. We are working to force public disclosure of government documents on coordination and discussion between federal and local law enforcement and Mayors' offices in the assault against the Occupy movement.

Instead of pandering to the rich, the banks and corporate power maybe it’s time to listen to the people – including those who not only “cannot go to the spa” but can’t feed their kids and can’t pay their mortgage.

The Occupy movement has taken root because there are forty seven million people in the United States who live under the official poverty line - cruelly calculated at only $22,000 for a family of four.  In 2010 alone, banks foreclosed on 3.8 million families. Three million people are completely homeless during part of the year. Forty million people are unemployed or severely underemployed. And over the last three decades the richest 1 percent of Americans have seen their incomes grow by an average of 275 percent.

More documents will be forthcoming soon from the FOIA requests about the coordinated crackdown against the Occupy movement.

In the wake of the mass false arrests, the unbridled police violence and waves of pepper spray, remember the tragedy facing the 1%.

Be sure to tell your friends who may be unemployed or foreclosed or unable to pay their student loans that the 1% -- as we now know -- have been more injured than any of us were ever aware. They can't get to the spa.

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard is Executive Director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund.

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