Saturday, November 26, 2011

Aggressive panhandling occurs near Occupy DC site

Last night, as I got out of McPherson Square (where a lot of homeless sleep, right in the Metro station), I walked up past Georgia Browns, and took one picture of Occupy DC across 15th St.   The only obvious sign this time was one about not gutting Social Security. As I reached K Street and turned the corner, on foot, to walk left, an African American started chasing me and saying that he had spoken to me and demanded to be answered.  He finally stopped after I reached 16th St.  He did rant about my “fear” and presumed cowardice and the possible wrath of God that would come to me for not stopping to “help” him on demand.

DC and Metro Transit Police call this “aggressive panhandling”, which is illegal.   Merely to approach someone one is not illegal. 

Is it “rude” to photograph the protests and not participate?  Is it rude to gawk like an alien anthropologist, keeping personal physical risk and involvement at a distance?

In Dallas, when I visited downtown Monday, it appeared that the Occupy movement had cleared out.

There has also been a movement in Austin.

I could say that reporting about Occupy would seem to foster the political impact of their causes.  But it does seem as though most of the protest seems to be demanding handouts, and repudiation of debts and overthrow of the system, with little in the way of constructive proposals. 

But, of course, there’s a another way to look at this:  Wall Street stole the money (the derivatives, the credit default swaps, even Madoff) and still took its bailouts and severance bonuses. (That seems true.)  The victims (especially those who deceptively structured adjustable subprime mortgages) are presented as personally responsible for “falling for it”.  That’s hyperindividualism taken to its extreme. 

However the game is structured, it’s always possible to blame the people who “lose” for their own personal failings. It’s easy to forget that we don’t start in the same place in line. Remember how student deferments for the draft in the 60s worked?  Those without the school grades went to the front lines.  

In the mean time, the GOP is still “blaming” the failure of the Supercommittee on Dems who insist on same raising of taxes.  And the GOP goes after the individual mandate for health insurance.  They’re ideology seems to be, government is not responsible for welfare, only families are.  So, in social conservative thought, everyone is tethered to his family, and the mores of sexual morality (marriage) keep everyone from taking undue advantage of things.  But it doesn’t work that way.

Update: Dec. 4

The Washington Post reports on a clash with Park Police arresting people trying to occupy a wooden building constructed "illegally" in McPherson Square Park, link  (video available, no embed provided).

CNN has a report (Dec 4 6 PM) here.

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