Theophillis Goodyear: Message to Occupy on Non-Violence

Theophillis Goodyear

The video about police preparing for riots has me extremely worried. But protestors need to understand that they’re part of the dynamic too. This is a very complex conflict dynamic. Demonizing the police isn’t going to help. It will more likely make things worse. And if things escalate beyond a certain point, an incident could easily turn into a situation like the L.A. Riots, because as police lose control troublemakers come out of the woodwork.

America needs some official or officially recognized group to act as legal third party observers in these kinds of protest situations, like the observers that we sometimes send to other countries to observe elections, or like U.N. Peacekeepers, except unarmed—-not to interfere, but to observe. They should be easily recognizable. With observers on hand, both police and protestors would likely be more well behaved.

This is an extremely dangerous dynamic! And if protestors aren’t careful, they’ll play right into the hands of authoritarians, giving them the perfect excuse for violent crackdown. Then the movement will have lost the moral high ground for good. And a dangerous dynamic of conflict escalation will have begun.

Protestors need to learn to be as polite as angels when protesting. They shouldn’t show anger in any way. They should show only gentleness and compassion. They should not resist arrest. And they should become model prisoners once arrested. That was Gandhi’s way. It removes any justification for police violence. The slightest deviation from that strategy can only lead to dangerous escalation.

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