Thursday, November 03, 2011

OWS Stubbed Its Toe

A few days ago I expressed encouragement regarding the calling of a general strike on the part of OWS in Oakland. Yesterday was the day set for that action, and the OWS crowd marched as a mob and closed down the Oakland dockyards. That was entirely the wrong move.

A strike means that you do not work for your employer, or that you do not buy from sellers in the area you are striking. It does not mean that you actively prevent others from lawfully going about their business. What OWS did was shut down a business where people who were not participating in its protest were trying to make a living. A strike is between a business and its employees, or a business and its customers, not between a business and an outside mob.

In closing down a business unrelated to them, OWS ceased to be a protest, legally exercising their right to assemble and speak, and became a mob interfering with the rights of others. Making protest does not permit one group to infringe on the rights of others to lawfully go about their business.

The fact that a portion of the OWS belonged to the labor union working at the docks does not change the issue, nor does the fact that the longshoremen chose to walk off the job at the docks in sympathy with the protesters after they arrived and blocked the gates. OWS was not representing the workers in their action, they were representing their own protest against whatever it is that they are against, and they did not shut down the docks from within, they shut them down as an outside agency.

I am losing respect for a group that after more than a month cannot even express what it is trying to achieve other than a desire to take some money away from rich people, and are increasingly infringing on the civil rights of the communities in which they live.

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