Why did the Occupy Wall Street protests turn violent and not the Tea Party protests?
Sometimes, it is best to not ask a question. If you’ve ever been around when a kid sees someone in a wheelchair for the first time, you know what I am talking about. We quickly and apologetically explain that there are things we can freely ask questions about and other questions we should keep to ourselves.
As adults, we’ve honed this skill of suppressing our curiosities when it is likely to cause discomfort. It is with considerable discomfort that I ask this question:
Why did the Occupy Wall Street protests (and the police reaction to them) look like this?
When I search on “tea party police brutality”, the links are actually about police brutality against Occupy protesters protesting at Tea Party events.
Why so different?
- Occupy Wall Street’s protesters were more confrontational.
The Tea Party did protest on public property. One of the linked videos showed them protesting at an IRS building, and the other showed them walking through a street. These are disruptive, but they don’t really compare with Occupy’s blocking of the Brooklyn bridge.
Then again, the police pepper sprayed UC Davis students for sitting in the UC Davis campus quad.
- The police have empathy (or at least comfort with) the goals of the Tea Party but not with Occupy Wall Street.
For all their talk of small government, the Tea Party does seem to be authoritarian. The police might sense that. One might think that Occupy’s opposition to existing power structures might have been too problematic for their pro-union stance to counter.
- Occupy protested in places where protests would not be tolerated.
Were all the Occupy protests that turned violent in crowded, urban areas? Were most of the Tea Party protests out of the way?
- Occupy got to be known by police as The Violent Protests before they appeared in their cities.
Occupy started and continued in Zuccotti Park before it propagated elsewhere. Once these protests turned violent, all other protests bearing the same name were viewed with intense apprehension by police forces around the country. And when the men with the guns are feeling apprehensive, it’s best to stay home.
Photo credits: Flickr user Samantha Grace Lewis