Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Police and city mayors are helping the Occupiers

Recent actions by city mayors to send in police in riot gear to forcible remove Occupy protesters from public parks will actually benefit the protesters. 

In my book, Getting Things Done in Washington, I examine the events leading up to the passage of six historic pieces of legislation.  In each case, advocates for change were helped by image events that gained them support and/or spurred political leaders to action.  For example, Shays rebellion in 1786 provided the shock that convinced James Madison, George Washington and others that the Articles of Confederation wasn’t working and that the country need a new Constitution that gave more power to Washington.  The publication of Upton Sinclair’s book The Jungle that vividly describe the horrible conditions in meat packing houses in Chicago galvanized support for passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act and Meat Inspection Act in 1906 which greatly expanded federal government oversight of the food and drug industries.  Finally, protests following news reports of the brutal murder of fourteen year old Emmett Till in 1955 in Mississippi and news coverage of police action against participants in the bus boycott led by Martin Luther King in Montgomery, Alabama that same year finally garnered sufficient public support for the passage of the first Civil Rights legislation in more than 80 years. 

These examples illustrate an important lesson for those who are dissatisfied with the way things are and seek change.  Real change usually requires some crisis, shocking expose or other confrontation either real or staged to garner attention, raise the consciousness of average Americans and spur the general population to demand that political leaders finally take action. 

Bottom line Occupiers:  Strange as it may seem, when the police are sent in to move you out, they are actually helping your cause and the more aggressive they are the more they help.

Read more about Getting Things Done in Washington here:

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