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I've been an avid "student" of protest movements for years.  I've attended many protests and I've noticed that there are a few things people do that tend to diminish their potential effect.  I'm not going to get into those details, since I don't want to discourage any reader that may be participating in the Wall Street occupation protest that started today.

But what I'm going to do is get straight to the point, emphasizing that this is a very unique opportunity.  This effort by these true patriots that understand that we have reached a point in history when there is no other choice than to take to the streets and demand that the criminality and oppression by the ruling elite stops, could either be a catalyst to help awaken the population, or it could fizzle away without having achieved much.

I recognize and understand that many readers may see these suggestions as extreme, unorthodox, or even too provocative, but I believe that for a protest movement to break through the propagandist effect of the mainstream media, and apathy of the general public, you have to "think outside the box."  You have to do something that projects the true power people have.

The riot police have uniforms, and shields, and helmets, and batons.  When they want to intimidate the protesters, they stand in formation, march, bang on their shields with batons, and stomp on the ground in unison.  That's very powerful imagery, and it is intimidating--which it's the intended purpose.

When it comes to the protesters, many times there is no organization.  People carry all kinds of different signs (for all kinds of causes); many of the signs are hand-written on cardboard.  

But the bought-off media purposely focuses on portraying the protesters in a certain way (see the New York times photo below) that undermines the message of the protesters (in the eyes of the typical middle class person).

What I'm about to suggest is actually not that hard to do, but for some reason, I've never seen it done at any of the protests I've attended.  But I believe that if done, it would send a very powerful message, and again, it could serve as a revolutionary catalyst...

So gather up some guys in the group with military or law enforcement experience.  Ask for volunteers within the massive number of people protesting tonight, tomorrow, and hopefully every single day of the week next week in Wall Street.

Here's the deal... this group would act as a "Phalanx Formation" (I have to admit that @OccupyWallSt came up with that name when I suggested the idea via twitter).

Ideally, you would "recruit" strong-looking people, and ideally they would wear a similar color clothing.  The idea is to project an image of organization and discipline.

This next step is very important... Think about what is it that we are protesting about.  We all know: the wholesale takeover of the country by an increasingly oppressive and exploitative ruling elite and Wall Street criminal banksters, who have looted the country's coffers, and plunged much the populace into economic despair.

So, come up with a very powerful verse (with strong in-your-face kind of language) which will immediately send a very clear message.

The leaders with military, organizational, or law enforcement experience would then coordinate with the volunteers for this "phalanx formation" and work out the details about how to (physically) organize it.

Do you have 200 people, or 500, or a 1,000?  When the moment comes, then quietly and with discipline, everybody gathers and falls in military formation.  A speaker (leader) in front of the formation delivers an impassioned short speech... She or he then ends with the verse agreed to previously.  And the "phalanx formation" then starts chanting that verse in unison, and with powerful voices.

As it happens, other members of the protest group take pictures of it, and video, and then post them on YouTube, or via livestream.

Visually, and emotionally, this could have a very powerful effect on the rest of the protesters... It could be a catalyst.  And you could see many other members of the larger group get closer to the core "phalanx formation" and join in the powerful REVOLUTIONARY chant.

This could have an incredible psychological (and inspirational) effect on the entire demonstration, and it could SPARK something really big.

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning.

They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what a people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both.

The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. Men may not get all they pay for in this world; but they must pay for all they get. If we ever get free from all the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and, if needs be, by our lives, and the lives of others.

- Frederick Douglass

Today (Saturday, September 17th, 2011) there were very large gatherings of people on the beginning of the Occupy Wall Street protest.  Even so, here's the photo the New York Times chose to use for an online article reporting on the protest:

Notice the hand-written cardboard sign... half of the protester's face is showing; no large gathering of people.

The way these protests are portrayed by the mainstream media tends to send a negative image about the protests, sometimes in subtle ways, and other times in not so subtle ways.

Originally posted to Ray Pensador on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 01:04 AM PDT.

Also republished by Occupy Wall Street.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Same as ever was (5+ / 0-)
    The way these protests are portrayed by the mainstream media tends to send a negative image about the protests, sometimes in subtle ways, and other times in not so subtle ways.

    Could also be called the “establishment” media. Just like in other countries where it's also known as the government media.

    I checked Aljazeera and there's nothing there yet.

    •  There was a story on the 10 o'clock news last (0+ / 0-)

      night.  It was a fine piece, not sensationalistic.

      •  Which "10 o'clock news" johnny? Must be around (0+ / 0-)

        2000 "10 o'clock news"'s across four time zones, eh?

        BTW, what kind of piece rate do they pay you?

        "Double, double, toile and trouble; Fire burne, and Cauldron bubble... By the pricking of my Thumbes, Something wicked this way comes": Republicans Willkommen auf das Vierte Reich! Sie Angelegenheit nicht mehr.

        by Bluefin on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 04:01:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  A quick and inexpensive way to make nice signs (8+ / 0-)

    Print on paper and spray mount to cardboard.

    Spray mounting two pieces of cardboard together with the corrugations at right angles to each other makes a much stiffer board, just as still as foam core.

    A quick print shop can print via offset large quantities for much cheaper than photo copies or computer print outs (minimize the number of colors, one is cheapest).

    Need some shirts printed? Let me know.

  •  Any Idea Why Saturday Was Chosen? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Floande, Louisiana 1976, elwior

    Why not Monday when much more attention & disruption to the traders would have occurred?

    If we're going to do this....go big.  Or is this just the beginning?  

    It sounds like Mayor Bloomberg is getting nervous, predicting riots.  It's about time.  

  •  I'm not so sure (7+ / 0-)

    I appreciate your thoughts, but I think the sight of uninformed, para-military looking protestors would tend to scare Americans, and I think it would do whatever cause they were marching for more harm than good.  I'm not sure that's the image you want to portray.  I loathe to even bring this up, but the first thing I thought when you mentioned uniformed people marching in unison in military like fashion were...brownshirts....sorry.

    In any event, no matter what the image or effectiveness, I think the notion of getting protestors to behave in military type fashion, down to their dress, is a bit optimistic to say the least. :)

    •  I agree with Even Better Than the Real Thing.. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      doc2, erush1345

      The very purpose of a military style phalanx formation is to move forward with irresistible force against a physical challenge. That's not what a protest is supposed to be about. That's more of a first step in an armed rebellion.

      •  Yeah (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kickemout, doc2, erush1345

        The thing is, as soon as you put people in uniform and have them start acting like some kind of army, they no longer look like "average concerned citizens", and you lose a big part of the PR aspect of something like this.

        And the more you act and dress like militants, the more likely law enforcement will treat you as much.

        This militant approach is more suited to a genuine rebellion, and an attempt to overthrow the existing government, not a peaceful protest designed to bring about change and draw attention to an issue.

        •  I think, if I get the right take, (4+ / 0-)

          it is the "organization"  Ray is talking about rather than a paramilitary organization.  Getting people to chant a simple but effective phrase, getting the better signs up for media pics in front of the cameras, having people who are used to taking command in front and doing the necessary front-line stuff (like not being timid) is a major part of what Ray is promoting.  After all, these are our warriors and protesting is a form of conflict and confrontation.

          We have a generation of leaders – Merkel, Sarkozy, Obama, Cameron – who don't seem to have the faintest idea of what they're doing. Politics is now nothing more than people saying hopeful things with their fingers crossed... - David Hare

          by glitterscale on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 05:34:06 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm not referring so much to their intentions... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            erush1345

            Which I'm sure would be peaceful.  I'm referring to the perception a uniformed, disciplined, military looking "unit" would generate.

            Again, it depends on what your motives are.  If you want to create a confrontation, then this certainly would be appropriate.  But I think if your goal is to generate sympathy for your cause, this approach might be counter productive.

            •  I disagree, libruls need to stop appearing and (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ray Pensador, glitterscale

              acting like fucking weenies.
               It's about goddamned time they really got organized and co-ordinated and started fighting fire with fire.

              Bob Sloan wrote an excellent diary here: "Ideas and Strategies That Will Lead the Way" (caption stolen from the enemy piece). That's one of the organized and co-ordinated ways that they do it. What are we waiting for, like Ray Pensador states?

              "Double, double, toile and trouble; Fire burne, and Cauldron bubble... By the pricking of my Thumbes, Something wicked this way comes": Republicans Willkommen auf das Vierte Reich! Sie Angelegenheit nicht mehr.

              by Bluefin on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 04:13:17 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Guess what? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                dot farmer

                "Libruls" (to use your word) don't win gun fights.  Not against conservatives, not against the police, not against anyone.

                I'm all for organizing and getting co-ordinated.  But the discussion is about wearing uniform and acting like militants....which is going to accomplish what exactly? You think that's going to put "fear" in the heart of Wall Street, or anyone else, when they have a police force and national guard between them and you?

                So perhaps you can explain how uniforms and phalanx formations is "fitting fire with fire."  If protestors start wearing uniforms and acting like militants, law enforcement will treat them as such...to the applause of the average American, I might add.

                •  What? Are you afraid we will actually (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Bluefin

                  bet our act together?  Are you afraid that we might grab a good focus and go for it?   Are you afraid that we might set a goal and stick to it?

                  We have a generation of leaders – Merkel, Sarkozy, Obama, Cameron – who don't seem to have the faintest idea of what they're doing. Politics is now nothing more than people saying hopeful things with their fingers crossed... - David Hare

                  by glitterscale on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 05:48:29 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, that's my objective. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            glitterscale
    •  I agree - we're not paramilitary fascists (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      semiot

      everyone in ... say ... brown shirts is a bad idea. Now if the critical mass of people is there and everyone is wearing a particular color of scarf or hat that's a good idea.

      If you didn't like the news today, go out and make some of your own.

      by jgnyc on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 07:53:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Brown shirts? Scaring Americans? That's an (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bluefin

      interesting take.  Americans should be scared!  They are being systematically brutalized by what is increasingly turning into a criminal neo-fascist system controlled by corporations.

      The subjugation and exploitation is being done in a brutally efficient, methodical and systematic way.  That is very scary, especially when you look at the results thus far: tens of millions of people falling by the "economic wayside" at a faster and faster rate--all done by design.

      Regarding the Brown Shirts, it's interesting that you mentioned that.  I recently watched a BBC documentary about the years before Hitler's taking power.

      At that time most of Germany's political system was pro-worker, socialist.  Hitler's political movement at that time was considered a fringe political faction, and most people didn't even pay that much attention to them.

      Then the Brown Shirts starting moving in into Labor- and Socialist-dominated neighborhoods, and started harassing people.  Beating up people, and eventually the violence escalated into actual murders.

      Keep in mind that these thugs were (at that point) a tiny little group... And they would go and move into neighborhoods where the population was exponentially larger than they were, and somehow they were able to terrorize them at will.  Imagine that!

      Now, in the middle of that happening, why didn't someone (a communist or labor or socialist leader) in those neighborhoods came forward with a very common sense proposition: Let's put together a group of 500 armed men, go into the tiny little building where these small group of brown shirt thugs were, drag them out, and inflict some justice?

      I close my eyes and imagine that probably some people did try to suggest something like that, as a reaction to the increasingly thuggish actions of the Brown Shirts--and the fearful citizens would recoil as such a thought.

      And of course, the rest is history...

      Today, the manipulation, oppression, subjugation, and enslavement of the citizens is being done in a more subtle way, but the end result will lead to the vast majority of the citizens living a life of serfdom.

      These people are evil, greedy, sadistic, sociopathic, and their goal is nothing less than the subjugation of the entire populace, in order to satiate their insatiable lust for money and power.  

      And they are extremely organized.  They have the entire government in their pockets; they own the media and use it every single second of the day to control people's minds.

      We the people are going to stop these scumbags, no question about it.  But for that to happen, people need to join together in a powerful, organized, and relentless (and disciplined) resistance (non-violent) movement.

      •  I'm just grateful... (0+ / 0-)

        ...that no one's rec'd this comment.  Yet.

        •  Would you care to elaborate? I'm interested to (0+ / 0-)

          learn about any objection you may have about what I wrote.  You disagree with the characterization of the current situation, or is it something else?  I have an opened mind to consider your opinion.

          •  What concerns me.. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ray Pensador

            Is that you believe creating some kind of uniformed, quasi paramilitary (and that's what they'd be) group which may or may not be willing to carry out violence somehow is a winner for the progressive cause. I know you said they'd be non-violent, but I don't see how such a group could avoid becoming violent.

            Guess what.  If it's a gun fight between us and them, we lose. In the meantime, we're not going to create any sympathy with the public by projecting the kind of image you describe.  I believe protests are successful when Americans look in the crowd and see themselves...average, everyday, concerned Americans. Not uniformed militaristic looking units carrying out maneuvers.

            Again, I don't mean to have a go at your, and I know what your suggesting is in theory non-violent and well intentioned.  But I just don't believe it will work.

            •  In understand where you're coming from. But (2+ / 0-)

              those considerations (from the middle class) sometimes work against our interests, and I may venture that their genesis is fear.  I'll leave you with this:

              If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning.

              They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what a people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both.

              The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. Men may not get all they pay for in this world; but they must pay for all they get. If we ever get free from all the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and, if needs be, by our lives, and the lives of others.

              - Frederick Douglass

        •  Guess what? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ray Pensador

          "Double, double, toile and trouble; Fire burne, and Cauldron bubble... By the pricking of my Thumbes, Something wicked this way comes": Republicans Willkommen auf das Vierte Reich! Sie Angelegenheit nicht mehr.

          by Bluefin on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 04:16:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I would like this to turn into something (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coquiero

    but given its provenance, I sincerely doubt it.  There's no agenda or actual goal at work here, so I wouldn't expect there to be results either.

    The conundrum of stable democracy: Reform requires the consent of the corrupt.

    by Troubadour on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 05:38:56 AM PDT

  •  Look also at the sign that says (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gustogirl, johnny wurster, doc2, erush1345

    "abolish capitalism" coupled with the picture of Van Jones.

    Makes the group look like an anti-capitalistic mob controlled by Van Jones as the "new Lenin"

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 06:50:58 AM PDT

  •  ABC's picture (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    doc2, Ray Pensador, erush1345

    had Code Pink out front, with scraggly looking crowd behind.

    The majority of Americans think little of Code Pink.

    Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

    by Gustogirl on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 06:59:42 AM PDT

    •  But it's not just Code Pink that is there. (0+ / 0-)

      There's also the La Rouchites. And for those who don't like either of those there are a bunch of Ron Paulists. And of course there are the ever-popular Anonymous people, the anti-capitalists and WTO folks, and the "free Bradley Manning" crowd. And let's not forget the anarchists.

      Yeah, this is going to be huge, this is sure to catch on.

      Don't tread on me? I'll tread on you any time I feel like it.

      by doc2 on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 07:42:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Something I read on Twitter yesterday... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Susipsych, Ray Pensador, Sychotic1

    one tweeter said he/she was talking with a beat cop who said he's seen many of these protests.  Some got things done, some didn't.  He didn't think this one was going to accomplish anything.  

    One journalist offered some advice: he tweeted that if they wanted MSM attention they had to do something that made the press want to cover it.  I'm sure they can think of something creative.

    Never meddle in the affairs of cats, for they are subtle and will piss on your computer.--Bruce Graham

    by Ice Blue on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 07:15:50 AM PDT

    •  How about a big guillotine, (0+ / 0-)

      and lop of the head of the Monopoly Man.

      Courage is contagious. - Daniel Ellsberg

      by semiot on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 09:53:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  . . . in effigy, that is. (0+ / 0-)

        Courage is contagious. - Daniel Ellsberg

        by semiot on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 09:53:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Did you wanted to add something intelligible to (0+ / 0-)

          the discussion?

          •  The issue I responded to was (0+ / 0-)

            what the protesters might do to garner press attention. A big (fake) guillotine lopping off the the head of an effigy of "The Monopoly Man" - you know the widely recognized image of the top-hatted, mustachioed man from the boardgame - might do the trick.

            That's all for now.

            Courage is contagious. - Daniel Ellsberg

            by semiot on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 12:13:53 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I think allusion to violence is counterproductive. (0+ / 0-)
              •  Maybe, and maybe just done more subtly (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                semiot

                Take the Monopoly Man as your symbol for Wall Street bankers; he's just about universally recognized as a robber baron character. You can do a lot to a cartoon character as allegory that you can't do to a real person.
                Now, have him being led off-screen in handcuffs, by a civilian escort with the banner "Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood". No violence is shown or illustrated. The reference to the French Revolution and M. Guillotine will be understood.
                Or take a tip from the modern Tea Party. Use the flag of the East India Company as a stand-in for Wall Street. Get creative! Can others come in with fictional and historic references that will resonate with our target audience?

                Less "WAAAAH!", more progress.

                by IndyGlenn on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 02:06:50 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  There is a difference between power that's implied (0+ / 0-)

                  and violence that's alluded to.  The former can be more effective for it does not takes a tyrant too much to understand the capability of a people united.

                  •  Ray, let me say I appreciate your concern. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Ray Pensador

                    Let me also say I believe that political statements by masses of people in the streets may be the most potent means we have now to get change going.

                    I am not a violent person, by any means. I had some pretty heated discussions with the resident gun-lovers here about the wisdom and bravery of the Egyptians who left their guns at home when they went to Tahrir Square.

                    But I think eyes need to be opened. Historical analogies - in the form of graphic metaphors - must be brought forth to show people the potential consequences of continued unsupportable greed and indifference to suffering.

                    Let me close by citing an item in Harper's latest Index:

                    "Percentage of millionaires who said in a July survey that they are concerned about global unrest: 94."

                    I do not believe the powerful will give up their power to harm the common good, except when compelled to do so by an aroused citizenry. It's been done before. They need to know that we know that. And that there are various means to that end.

                    Courage is contagious. - Daniel Ellsberg

                    by semiot on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 03:13:46 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

  •  @OccupyWallSt #OccupyWallSt (0+ / 0-)

    CELL/WIFI/SAT/WEB/CB/TURBO Repeaters Needed
    FETI + ZERG Liberty 1 & 2 + NYPD-PC1 & NYPD-PC7
    COMM Blackout + ACCOUSTIC Blackout, NEED ASL/ISL
    Grid BLACKOUT potentially planned by TARU
    Need UPC's & Shielding
    One-Way Perimeters ALL OVER NYC + Manhattan Island.
    Twitter, Livestream, Facebook, IRC becoming outbound-only from #OccupyWallSt by TARU/Infiltrators

  •  You and This Diary are Currently Being Tweeted (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ray Pensador
    @maymaym
    maymaym
    Interesting analysis abt macro-organizing principles for effective #media use by #protests: ur1.ca/56oeq#OccupyWallStreet #activism
    15 minutes ago via status.maymay.net

    Congrats!

    Namaste!

    •  Thank for letting me know. I would like to see (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      evergreen2

      something like this happen.  You are very kind to help me spread this message...

      •  Another Great Vid I found Last Night (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ray Pensador

        A lot of stuff was being posted in the wee hours of midnight.  I'm just waking up now, and haven't seen what's going on on dkos yet, but since you commented back, I thought you might be interested.

        I think this thing is evolving, and I'm pretty content to see what happens rather than try to pre-judge it.  What happened yesterday is turning into it's own message.  I think "Whose Side Are You On," which is being floated, is excellent at this point.

        Anyway, here is my fave finding of the overnight intertubes (It could use a better name):

        Uploaded by LatinoRebels on Sep 24, 2011
        Photos © Rebecca Beard, http://rebeccabeard.com.
        Music by The Verve

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