A prominent author says that the Occupy movements are proving to be as important as the African-American Civil Rights movement from the 1960s. He also added that the US security forces were using heavy-handed tactics in a bid to crush the ongoing protests across the country.
Press TV has conducted an interview with political analyst and author Stephen Lendman from Chicago to discuss the issue further.
The following is a transcript of the interview.
Press TV: First of all, I’d like to have your reaction about what’s been happening today in Oakland. You are aware, of course, that they are covering live the police action that’s there today.
Lendman: Oh, indeed. I know this is going on in a regular basis in many cities throughout the country. Police violence in Oakland has happened several times before which has happened maybe a little bit more intensive than earlier.
In the last number of hours, I spotted reports of police violence in Portland, Oregon, just up the coast a little bit. In my old city of Chicago, they’ve been several episodes of police violence.
Earlier, there was terrible violence in New York, and then Mayor Bloomberg said he does not want these tactics unleashed against the protesters.
Press TV: As you said there, there’s been a lot of criticism now about the approach on these protests becoming too much militarized, rather, the argument of those groups being that. Do you think that this is the best option that’s being adopted towards those protests, rather, something that the government has had no other choice but to adopt?
Lendman: Well, I think the more violence is unleashed on people, the angrier they get. Probably, it will simply inspire greater action.
I think back to what I remember very well, the 1960s, the Civil Rights movement, mainly in the south where there was terrible police brutality against black people protesting for their civil rights – my goodness! They simply wanted to be treated the same as white people. That was a minor event compared to what’s going on now.
And yet the more police intervene, unleash dogs on them, beat people, arrested them, I don’t know how many times Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was thrown in jail, they just kept coming back, coming back and coming back. And finally, the Johnson administration knew that they had to intervene, to do something to get some laws passed…it got the voting rights act passed.
Press TV: And this is going to happen this time as well, do you think? That the government is eventually going to have to start listening to those demands and try to convince at least part of these protesters that they are going to get some of the demands that they’re making?
Lendman: Well, they will if the protests persists. That’s what it all comes down to. The bottom line is that the people in power, the corporate people in power will not give an inch unless they’re forced to do it.
I’m reminded of what I’ve written about back during the Great Depression when Franklin Roosevelt gave people a New Deal. Roosevelt was a patrician; he represented the big power and corporate interest of the country. But they were smart corporate people. Roosevelt, himself, who came to the conclusion that we have a serious situation on our hands and if we don’t give something to alleviate the situation, the whole business may collapse, the whole house of cards may collapse. So, what they ended up doing was coming up with a New Deal program to give a little to save capitalism.
It’s very possible that could be the bottom line this time. When these protests, and they show no signs of waning, if they keep it up and they grow as they are, and it really is amazing how this has come together, if this is sustained, then I think no matter who’s in power at some point, together with the corporate people, are going to have to realize that either they’re going to have to give up some of what they have now or they will risk losing everything. If they come up with that conclusion, then there will be something good happening.
My feeling is even if that happens it won’t be good enough because the system is so corrupted and broken that minor surgery will not help it. Major surgery is necessary, real major surgery.
And I hope the people protesting understand that. I’m still waiting. Hopefully, I’ll get an invitation to speak to Occupy Chicago. I really want to stress this to them, it’s so vital.
If this really is the mother of all struggles, you’re hitting the power structure of America right in the solar plexus where it hurts most. I mean, you’re going after corporate greed, all of these things that are so important.