What Little Remains

In the aftermath of the of the rout of OccupyPortland yesterday afternoon, I decided to take a look at the oft-touted “damage” to the parks.  Peering through the hastily installed cyclone fences at a crew of city workers, who had doffed the ever-so-telegenic masks worn by the earlier invaders, all I saw was what any lawn in Portland in the winter looks like.  Or what Waterfront Park looks like every year after the Rose Festival.  Muddy, yes, but damaged?  For Pete’s sake.

For weeks we’ve been hearing about the intolerable costs to taxpayers of the Occupy movement; what we’ve seen though, is that these costs are primarily those of militarized police forces trampling the rights of ordinary citizens for the benefit of business elites.  The “damage” to the park had been previously estimated at $19,000, but today local news said that figure would be “much higher.”  Really?  For sand and grass seed?  Whatever.  The real costs are entirely those of the police state: lost revenues for local businesses bullied into shutting down, enormous amounts of overtime and transport for cops from neighboring cities and counties, and everybody knows tear gas and rubber bullets don’t grow on trees.

In the last Robber Baron era, the one percenters at least had the decency to hire their own goons and pay for their own ammo; today’s coddled elite expect ordinary citizens to pony up for the luxury of being arrested and clubbed.  It’s a pretty sweet deal when you think about it.  In Oakland, Mayor Jean Quan thinks nothing of spending $5 million to bash heads and fill up the jails, in a cash-strapped city that just closed two schools to “save” $2 million.  Here, business interests who just days ago were waxing fanatical about the damage to their suddenly beloved parks, now have offered to donate money and labor to repair them, but pointedly made no mention of the far greater costs of the Mubarak-lite crackdown they demanded, and got.

Last time I checked, ordinary people have no such control over the use of scarce revenues; outlying neigborhoods beset by crime and poverty routinely beg, to little avail, for just a few more patrol cars at night.  Things are different, however, for the entitled elite and their spokespeople at The Oregonian. War, whether at home or abroad, can be spared no expense, while the green eyeshades and sharp pencil suddenly come out when festering social needs are considered, when they’re considered at all.

If the “Free Market” were anything more than a clever slogan for ruthless upward wealth distribution, it would be entirely uncontroversial to propose that those who benefit, quite lavishly, from the suppression of dissent should at least pay for it.  Jamie Dimon of Chase Bank implicitly acknowledged this principle by “donating” a million or so to the NYPD; he may be a thief and a charlatan, but he’s more honest about it than most.

31 Comments

  1. mikeinportc says:

    To paraphrase Alfred E., ” What, me pay ?”

    It’s just grass . I’m in the biz, so maybe I don’t have a proper appreciation of how sacred it is, ( although I’ve made some $ , over the years, catering to those that do) but it does grow back. Even though Portland is very hot and dry this time of year,;) it should grow back on it’s own. Besides which, last I knew, the Constitution trumps turf.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Yeah, I could get that grass looking like Astroturf for a lot less than 19 grand, and could use the work. (temps are a bit too low for germination right now, admittedly…) As you obviously see, the grass was never the issue.

  2. Ché Pasa says:

    I was watching the post-game media wrap up on the CBS station in Portland over the Livestream. Some seriously deranged “reporter” was showing the “damage” and “destruction” that the Occupiers had left in whichever square it was. She complained of the “awful stink” they left behind, and she showed video of trash littering everywhere, tents in disarray, piles of debris, “that are going to take a long time for the city workers to clean up,” and she was just beside herself with the awfulness of the Occupiers and their miserable icky campground.

    Of course she never once said anything about the fact that the police raiders who had forced the evacuation of the camp had themselves caused all of the damage (well, most of it) that she was so horrified by, that they had torn open garbage bags and strewn their contents, that they had overturned everything, they were the source of most of the debris (which was in the process of being cleaned up and rehabbed after a hasty “pack up” before the initial police onslaught the night before) and on and on.

    I was appalled. The other reporter with this station (was it KOIN?) — the pert blonde — who was in between the police line and the crowd on Main Street most of the day and night and was talking constantly with people there — seemed to be able to put two and two together and get something close to four. But this other one showing off all the ick was dumber than a garden gnome and not nearly as cute.

    As for the costs… well, as we know, the police actually do have discretion in these matters. They can say no, like they did in Albany. They ought to say no everywhere. But I think they like the Theater of it all; they can’t resist being in the spotlight. Super Trouper and all that.

    They were saying this morning that it was costing $1,000 for each Alameda County Deputy to stand around in Oakland while the camp was being demolished.

    Your tax dollars at work!

    (I liked the report of the Oakland attitude before this morning’s raid: they had a party, called it “Occupocalypse.” I think they learned something from Portland!)

    • cocktailhag says:

      I watched some of the TV reports, too, and was similarly appalled, if not surprised. All media outlets’ websites here are constantly bombarded by cane-shaking right-wingers, and their coverage reflects that.
      The current Police chief is making noises about running for Mayor, which goes quite a way in explaining his toadyism. He wants that Oregonian endorsement, and the paper is worse than the New York Post about Occupy.

  3. Steve_Rockford says:

    Great report from the front lines.

    What do you think will happen next with the Occupy Portland movement?

    • cocktailhag says:

      There’s a GA tonight at 7:00pm at Pioneer Courthouse Square, where such things will be decided. Any further occupations will be immediately set upon, though, thanks to our notorious anti-camping laws, and the pathetic weakness of our lame-duck Mayor. (That, and the Holiday shopping season; those suburbanites are so easily upset…)

  4. sysprog says:

    @MayorSamAdams tweets about those darn kids on his grass

    http://www.twitlonger.com/show/e6cfl5

    “In response to all this, has our response been perfect? It never is. And neither is yours. But together Portland has done better than most.”
    – - @MayorSamAdams

    • cocktailhag says:

      Sheesh. He even uses that old Rumsfeld construction of asking himself a stupid, straw man question and answering it. What a waste of protoplasm that guy is. Worst Mayor of my lifetime, and that includes ol’ Frank Ivancie.

  5. sysprog says:

    What though the radiance which was once so bright
        Be now for ever taken from my sight,
    Though nothing can bring back the hour
        Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
    We will grieve not, rather find
        Strength in what remains behind.

    - – Wordsworth

    • cocktailhag says:

      Wow, I used the title of a Posies song from their first album, “Failure.” Were I better educated, I’d have used Wordsworth; it’s a lot more appropriate. Thanks.

    • cocktailhag says:

      The relevant Posies lyric at the end of the song:

      I will leave no scars, no marks on your slate;
      I will try to make the best of it a little too late.

      And there’s this:
      You condemn me for the things that I say,
      But they don’t seem to affect you at all, anyway.

  6. mikeinportc says:

    Which is, of course, why she was hired. She’ll go far . ;)

    Speaking of saying no, that reminds me of a hilarious one , from (more than) a few years back. It was during the anti-apartheid/divestment protests , in Syracuse. The mayor, flanked by the chancellor of SU ( Business Asshole of The Year) was making dire threats to the protestors , ( I was passing by) then turned it over the police chief, for the specifics . The chief said that as long as it was peaceful and legal, the cops would do nothing. LMFAO!

  7. mikeinportc says:

    “But this other one showing off all the ick was dumber than a garden gnome and not nearly as cute”

    ^ ( Seems to have disappeard. ???)

  8. Annice says:

    I went down to Occupy that rainy Saturday night…if it was as muddy as they said, my 4in heel boots would have been covered in mud! They were only a bit splatterd on the bottom, nothing as bad as walking the dogs on the Park blocks during our rainy season. Although you are not sure if it is mud or something else during the dog walks.

    • cocktailhag says:

      That’s pretty horrifying, if true. Did I mention how sick I am of this? Probably.

      • Ché Pasa says:

        I thought Portland cops were all such sweethearts.

        That’s what the “news” says.

        (Saw the story about Justin Bridges earlier today; it’s horrifying; they practically killed him. I don’t think people realize how many have been injured — hundreds — and how many have been seriously injured — at least a dozen by my count — in all the various crack downs and evictions and actions to suppress.)

  9. by the way, I watched the live feed from Portland Occupy for a bit last night–during their general assembly, late, in some misc. public space into which they’d been pushed. a very patient but persistent group.

  10. mikeinportc says:

    Here in Bingladesh, nothing’s happened,there’s essentially no news, Occupy Binghamton says they’re not going anywhere, and the mayor says he’s “not inclined” to make them. Total cost to the city ( Supposedly) : $0.00
    You’d think that option/outcome might occur to other politicians and pundits, or at least to preclude cost as a justifcaion for a crackdown .

    http://www.pressconnects.com/article/20111114/NEWS01/111140340/Protesters-mark-first-month-Binghamton?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE