The “Occupy Wall Street” protests reveal that American democracy still has life in it. The protests this winter in Wisconsin led by teachers who forced their unions to follow them, showed the way. Among the heroes in Madison were the cops. Not only did they fail to enter in their customary role from central-casting as hippie head busting goons, but they often entered the grand historical stage as protesters themselves, giving impassioned speeches under the Capitol Dome from the house of the people and Fighting Bob LaFollette. The cops, at this moment, truly were our “finest” and for the first time I really believed the motto so often repeated of “to protect and to serve.” The firefighters, bagpipes bellowing, were lockstep with them as well.
From that seed, protests spread to Ohio, Florida and other states. Now Thomas Jefferson’s tree of liberty is entering full bloom with the Wall Street protests. Over a dozen cities are simultaneously holding demonstrations with people mad as hell over the implosion of the middle class at the hands of Wall Street rent seekers. From students, to workers, to Nobel Laureates, to actors, the breadth and depth of the protesters is rejuvenating democracy.
Enter the New York Police Department (NYPD). Unfortunately, the “era of good feelings” (to cite a previous era) on Wall Street between the protestors and cops has come to an end. While many NYPD cops are surely as good as their Wisconsin brethren (one would hope) many have decided to enter history’s stage as pot-bellied punk Pinkertons wielding the traditional bullying weapon of choice, the night stick, and more modern chemical aerosol weapons. We have more than enough video and audio recordings to know that the Big Apple has more than as few bad apples on its force.
Wall Street has been the global epicenter of corruption and JP Morgan Chase as one of many organs of its criminal cynicism. Therefore, no matter how revolting, it should be no surprise that JP Morgan Chase just donated $4.6 million (“the largest donation in the history of the foundation) to the NYPD Foundation precisely at the time when the NYPD is charged with protecting and serving all its citizens. The NYPD press release says the money will buy 1,000 new laptops for patrol cars as well as security monitoring software in the NYPD’s main data center.
Let’s hope the NYPD recognizes this appalling conflict of interest and in the spirit of the Wisconsin police returns this money post haste with a note suggesting the inappropriateness of JP Morgan Chase’s action. Doing so would reveal that the NYPD is far better than the crooks that wreck havoc daily on our global economy from Wall Street offices. Indeed, by such an action, the NYPD could set and example of redemption for us all, elevating itself above the current example set in both Congress and the Senate that have become open sewers of special interest money. NYPD, your historical moment has arrived.
Jeffrey Sommers divides his time between Wisconsin and Latvia. He can be reached at: Jeffrey.firstname.lastname@example.org