Swickard: The Occupy Santa Fe movement needs to move differently

© 2012 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.

Occupy Santa Fe Press release: “… OSF understands the continuing corruption of our democracy is a matter of sheer survival with 146 million Americans at or below the poverty line. A noisy interruption of the ALEC $250 dinner is mild compared to the economic, social, and environmental devastation caused by corporate domination… ALEC members choked two women protesters with their own scarves while simultaneously punching them in the back, one by Representative Kintigh of Roswell. Following them to the sidewalk in front of the restaurant, an ALEC member punched a male protester in the face, and shoved another male protester to the wall in a chokehold. Four security guards from the Eldorado Hotel contained the violent ALEC legislative member.”

I was not there nor have I spoken to any of the participants. However, I am gravely concerned at two things: first, that a peaceful group of elected New Mexico legislators on private property were subjected to a frightening violent interaction. Second, that the Occupy Santa Fe group was able to barge into a private dinner.
If the Occupy Santa Fe protesters had remained at their protest outside the hotel it would be a non-story. Instead they came onto public property, a hotel dining room and caused a fuss. They called causing a fuss civil disobedience, but they are wrong.
Be noisy, be in the face, be on public property. Step onto private property without permission and it is not fine. The hotel, while open to the public is still private property. The protestors have no right to walk into any store, restaurant or hotel without permission.
The authorities and security forces were absent and that left it up to the legislators to protect themselves. There is a charge of excessive force against Rep. Dennis Kintigh when he removed at least one person. He is a New Mexico certified police officer and a retired FBI agent. That he felt compelled to act speaks volumes as to the safety of the legislators in the room.
Where do we go from here? I hope Occupy Santa Fe troops are not trying to force the legislators to huddle behind protected walls. We have a great citizen legislature where anyone can walk almost anywhere in the Roundhouse without hassle. The dialog may have started to try to contain the “terrorist” effect of protestors.
I do have to protest the protestor press release, “…the continuing corruption of our democracy is a matter of sheer survival with 146 million Americans at or below the poverty line.” So one half of all Americans are at or below the poverty line? Yet most have a house, car and cable. How is that poverty? I suspect the fragile population is closer to five percent and yes, they do need our prayers and our help.
Also, the New Mexico Legislature has been firmly in the hands of the Democrats since before World War Two. The Occupy Santa Fe group was yelling at Republicans who rarely if ever have any say in what the Legislature does. If corporations have bought the New Mexico Legislature protest the Democrats.
I would like to give some honest helpful advice for the people in the Occupy Santa Fe movement. Stay on public property. We hear you and dare I say it, I agree with some of your more reasonable concerns. I have raised them myself as to money and politics.
Importantly, if you really want to make a difference, go to each legislative district and put up a candidate against the incumbent so that a year from now the entire 112 members of the New Mexico Legislature could all be newly elected Occupy members who will completely cleanse the political process. Do the change right.
The Occupy people all over our nation do have our attention but we will not be bullied, we will not be intimidated and they cannot come on private property and attack New Mexico citizens without the full response of angry citizens being conveyed to them. If they want to change the political process it is open to them to do so. Do it in the way that our US and New Mexico Constitution allows, get elected and lead us to a better world.


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