doesn't require a lot of commentary: an overweight, battle-outfitted cop following orders and flexing his flabby sense of power over a group of passively sitting demonstrators because somebody told him he should or could. The message is clear: The ruling class understands that OWS is ripping the scab off the suffering of the working and middle class and the poor, and the elites are afraid of the truthful and disciplined anger cultivated by the OWS movement, and they are determined to shut it down before it spreads into anything like a mass uprising against corporate monarchy. The bosses' chief weapon, to paraphrase the hysterical enforcer in the old Monty Python "Spanish Inquisition" sketch, is fear: fear that if you protest you will be injured, fear that your dissent will place you in personal physical danger, fear that gathering in public against a Wall Street dictatorship will put you more at risk than you can possibly afford. You can be angry, is the message, but you'd damn well better keep your anger at home and not make public trouble for us.
This may well be an explicitly coordinated strategy. We know, for instance, that the mayors of many cities with active OWS movements have shared ideas in large-scale conference calls about how to respond. We also know that law enforcement has both the national means and the motive to share recommended methodologies for cutting off OWS participants at the knees.
In any case, the plutocrats are scared, and police are being called upon to kick serious ass. This isn't at all new in poor communities of color, where illegal and humiliating public body searches and sodomy attacks and cold-blooded murders by police have been going on for decades as a tool of terror and control. But it is new for today's generation of college-aged and twenty-something mostly-white Wall Street occupiers and protesters, accustomed as they are to freedom from rampant police abuse. Further, this kind of explicitly political national movement of young people (of all colors) against capitalist injustice is something the United States has not seen for nearly a half-century. And so police at places like UC Davis, and Oakland, and Portland, are now being called upon to review the DEFCON pages of their manuals, to pull on their riot gear, and to report for Conan the Barbarian duty.
White kids being brutalized by swaggering over-armored cops doesn't play well on national television. The courage and discipline of a crowd of students who responded by peacefully forcing the storm troopers to retreat while they chanted "Shame on you!" and "You can go!" also makes a strong impression on national TV. Just as powerful (see video below) was the ruthlessly silent shaming of weak UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi by a sea of students who drowned Katehi in their deafening silence as she slunk though them to her car after unsuccessfully begging for their understanding after the pepper-spraying attack. The UC Davis faculty and many others have called for her resignation.
The War on Drugs provided a pretext for militarization of police in low-income communities of color. The culture of police thuggery, having been honed in places like the Bronx and South Central Los Angeles, is now being brought to bear against a potential national anti-corporate movement that taps into popular grievances. We'll see how this plays out. My bet is that OWS and the evolving ideas and actions it has set into motion will give the rich a run for their money.