Notes from an Occupation 12: Statement to the SFPD
Hello, my name is Scott Rossi and I am on the OccupySF Welcome Committee and Committee of Correspondence. I want to address this to the San Francisco Police Department specifically, but also to Police officers all over the country.
I’m a Pennsylvania native, a 4 year California resident and I’ve been living and working in San Francisco for a year. I’ve been an active member of the Occupation since the first week of October. It’s been extremely difficult and exhausting, holding a full time job during the day and then joining the ranks of OccupySF during the evening.
I joined up with the Occupation for a lot of reasons. The straws that broke the camel’s back were pretty much what got all of us involved: the insatiable greed of corporations and banks; the corruption and cooption of our Governments to these banks and corporations; the austerity cuts we are expected to bear without complaint while the rich get richer.
You may have seen a recent video by my fellow Occupier, Katt, in an attempt to reach out to you after the ‘barricade incident’ back on December 1. I’m making this one to bolster her efforts, and also in light of a stunning turn of events that happened in Washington DC yesterday, December 4. On the livestream of the police raid on OccupyDC, we were shown an officer refusing orders to taser an Occupier. Thousands of viewers saw this. It was amazing. We had heard rumors of it happening, but this was the first actual evidence. Unfortunately, no recording of the event has surfaced yet, but we’ve gotten confirmation from the videographer, so we know it’s not mass hysteria.
I wish I knew that officer’s name and badge number because he surely deserves much praise for making what must have been one of the most difficult and possibly costly decisions of his life. I am making this video and writing this blog entry to ask you to do the same.
I’m not asking you to mutiny or quit your job. What I am asking you to do is listen to your conscience, listen to the cries of the people you are sworn to protect and serve, and help us.
We’re the same, you and I. As I mentioned before, I work a full time job, and then some. I pay my taxes. I have a 401k. I volunteer and give my free time to better the community. I care about people and the greater good. Many, if not all of you do as well. I believe that there is a social contract that we all are a part of and that we all must participate in and pay into in order to have a healthy society. I believe that there are rules and laws in order to better help realize that society. Unfortunately we played by the rules and abided by the laws and we still lost. The CEOs, the bankers, the politicians, they make the rules and they are not even playing by them. The deck was stacked against us from the beginning.
Our 401k accounts, your pensions, they are the playthings of the rich. Our education and healthcare system is imploding under the crushing weight of the needful and the lack of resources which have been diverted to the wars, the bailouts, the banker bonuses. That’s not even addressing the money siphoned off through tax loopholes, hedge funds, offshore accounts and the rest, that could go towards helping our system be sustainable and worthy of us.
I love this city more than any other place on Earth. I love all the crazy, lovely, wonderful people I meet here. I love the fog, the rain, those sunny days that never seem to come around enough, and that I never fully enjoy while they’re here. And I love you. I really really do. I empathize with your position and have nothing but compassion and goodwill towards you. I love this city and so do you. You see us every day. You’ve arrested us. You’ve no doubt looked at some of us and wondered how we got into the various predicaments some of us find ourselves in. You’re stuck between the most difficult of positions - follow orders and evict an encampment of peaceful protesters who are trying to make the world a better place, or disobey orders and be open to all the risks and consequences that position would entail.
I appeal to the decent persons in your force. I appeal to the dream you had of being a Police Officer and all the good things you want to accomplish in this world. You are looked to by generations of children and citizens as heroes, and you are heroes, so I am asking you to do heroic things right now. We need heroes. We need you.
The Occupation is a thin and ragged line in the sand. We’re alone out there on the edge of a great night on one side, and a tsunami of rage, indignation and profound sadness on the other. We need help. We’re a nonviolent movement. We’re full of everybodies, anybodies and yes, even the people i’ll call ‘nobodies’ that many people would rather see tucked away in a doorway or an alley in the Tenderloin or SOMA. Many would prefer not to see them at all. We need help. We need safe spaces to do so. We need a kitchen so we can feed people and we need warm, dry places to sleep at night.
I’m tired of the 99% vs. the 1% meme. This movement is bigger than that. It’s not a numbers game, that’s what got us into this position in the first place. This movement is about a new way forward. The old way isn’t working anymore, and that’s apparent to anyone who opens up the newspaper or is brave enough to turn on the television. We have some solutions to the many ills we face as a civilization. We’re a conversation and a safe space for all of those that are left out and left behind by our society. We need people to come talk to us and with us, and in order to do that, we need a space and we need to hold that space so we always have it.
We should be allies, not adversaries. You fight crime and keep the peace. We’re trying to address many of the root causes and structural violence that lead to crime and punishment and recidivism.
From time to time, the rules we’ve established as a society no longer work. They’re not working for us but working against us. This is one of those times. This is a time when good people, regardless of station, must not remain silent and enable terrible wrongs and evils, but must stand up and be loud and be heard. We won’t go home quietly. Too many of us don’t have homes. We will not and can not sit by and let these wrongs go unrighted. Not one step further, not one moment longer. Please, my brothers and sisters in the San Francisco Police Department. I saw your faces the other night. I saw your confusion, your sadness, that sense of betrayal, your anger! You’re given poor orders with little or no explanation. You’re not invited to be a part of the decision making process, and you’re not invited to express your opinion of those orders, nor are you invited to opt out We need you. Stand down. Please. If you’re ordered to move on OccupySF, please say no. You know that this might be our last, best, chance to do things right by all of us. Talk to your union representatives. Talk to legal representation. Talk to US. Think of your families and talk to them. Do what’s right for them. Do you want a future where your children can be safe and have a good life? Please help the Occupation. Help us, don’t hurt us. We are you and you are us.
I don’t really know what else to say. I just hope that this message doesn’t fall on deaf ears or blind eyes. I hope that you realize you’ve been misled to stand up for the property and monied interests in this nation instead of those of us that need your help most of all. If I’ve managed to sway but one of you, or make you at least question your role in the way things go, then I will count this as a victory. It’s not a numbers game with us in the Occupation. It’s about hearts and minds and people. It’s about the way forward. Don’t follow the same old historical trends. The People are speaking and we always win the day. Get on the right side of, and make history and be the first police department to protect people and not the property of the privileged. Come help us make it happen and make it work.
I love you all. I’m out.