Street Corner Soapbox: Wolff and the DHS

Category:  Street Corner Soapbox
Friday, December 2nd, 2011 at 6:00 PM
Street Corner Soapbox: Wolff and the DHS by Jay Stevens
A. Conaway

Writer and critic Naomi Wolff recently penned an article for The Guardian entitled “The shocking truth about the crackdown on Occupy.” Only there's not much truth there, and its fictions could undercut the Occupy movement.

In it, Wolff claims that the Department of Homeland Security “coordinated a violent crackdown” of Occupy camps throughout the nation at the behest of Congress. Not true. Or, at best, wild speculation. For one, DHS is a cabinet-level branch of the executive. Congress doesn't “direct” it at all. For another, there's absolutely no evidence that DHS ordered the evacuation of any Occupy camp.

Here's what's true.

Mayors of cities with Occupy encampments did attend conference calls with each other to discuss strategies and tips on how to deal with the protesters. Included in the discussions were the best way to evict Occupy camps and deal with protesters.

Protesters have reported seeing DHS officials at the scene of protests. None of these sightings have been confirmed or indicated that DHS had any direct role in the evacuations of Occupy sites.

Federal agents from the Federal Protective Service (FPS) – part of DHS – were spotted near the Occupy Portland encampment in Oregon. An agency spokesman admitted to The Oregonian that its agents were working with city officials, but only because the protest there was encroaching on federal land. The FPS enforces laws on federal government property.

So far the only report of DHS working with municipal authorities comes from an anonymous Department of Justice source in citizen journalist website. And even according to the source, the federal government has been dispensing advice, but the decision on whether to evict belongs squarely with municipalities.

Part of DHS' mission is to enable communication between state and local authorities to respond to acts of terrorism and “other man-made disasters,” and DHS also teaches a course to authorities called “Managing Civil Action in Threat Incidents” that instructs authorities on how to deal with protests, “from a small peaceful assembly to a large out-of-control, violent confrontation,” in the name of public safety and advises on “media relations, demonstrator tactics, [and] riot control agents.”

If DHS is advising and its alleged coordination is real – and, frankly, I think it's likely – that's a far cry from the agency's original purpose, to protect the country from foreign terrorism. In that way, it's a lot like other Bush-era anti-terror policies: designed to deal with a foreign threat, but actually used to punish Americans.

Frankly, that's bad enough and should be the story that's being reported. But now any criticism of DHS is going to be ignored because of Wolff's article because of all of its inaccuracies and histrionics. People will just point to her piece and equate any criticism of DHS within the context of the Occupy movement with Truthers and Birthers. 

Erie Reader: Vol. 6, No. 9
Now Available — Pick It Up Today

CURRENT

Wear green to show your support for All Aboard Erie at the next City Council meeting.

William G. Sesler, Esq. offers his perspective on this long-unresolved issue.

Jerry McWilliams has gifts to give. 

 

Amanda Karns, Graphic Artist & Frank, Rescue Dog

Three races remain in the 2016 Erie Spring Cycling Series

IN THIS ISSUE

Jerry McWilliams has gifts to give. 

 

Amanda Karns, Graphic Artist & Frank, Rescue Dog

Three races remain in the 2016 Erie Spring Cycling Series

The YMCA Food and Fun Bus kicks off April 29th with Taco Night.

MUFON’s Pennsylvania Chapter will pull the hangar door open at its Eerie UFO Conference, revealing the truth behind some of the biggest conspiracies of the past century.

Man About Town whisks by like a warm summer breeze, stirring up memories of maritime man-perms and mimosas with its mellow grooves

A community-owned ‘third place’ for nearly 40 years. 

Algorithm Blues

Technology makes workers obsolete, even in the world’s oldest profession. 

Rescheduled from November, the Intersections of Equality Symposium Explores Equity at Behrend