Morality Stings: Citizens need to rethink choices


By Joanne Lee

Maria Kalaitzandonakes

At my computer, I sat stunned. On Oct. 5, I watched the New York Police Department spray searing liquid into the eyes of peaceful protest­ers in Occupy Wall Street.
These mostly young men and women say they will stay on Wall Street until the government puts a stop to corrupt bail­ing out of big banks and “selling out” of citizens.
My heart pitched at the pictures of the young people filling their eyes with milk to cool the burning. The violence by the officers just felt unexplainably wrong, and I didn’t understand why the police­men would perpetrate it. Even though the head of the department ordered some movements, police continued it to an inhumane level.
Occupy Wall Street is a series of pro­tests where people spend all day and night on the sidewalk or in the park, hoping to end corporate greed and eco­nomic inequality. Their catch phrase, es­pecially as violence ensued, has become “The whole world is watching,” and, at least for me, it was true.
I couldn’t get the graphic images out of my head: kids my age, lying on the ground, rolling in pain as their eyes be­came enflamed and red from the hateful spray. Act after act occurred. Policemen corralled protestors onto a bridge with the sole purpose of arresting them in masses; they used public busses to trans­port these new prisoners to jail. Officers also arrested a group protesting in anon­ymous masks – think V for Vendetta – by citing some old New York law, which forbids two or more people in a public area from wearing masks unless in an outdoor masquerade party; one wom­an reportedly got arrested for wearing a mask on the back of her head. Police used tasers and mace as crowd control.
Video after video show policemen us­ing orange nets to move the protesters. On the screen I saw them pushing both scooters and police cars into the crowds and even using some very direct meth­ods of physical violence as crowd con­trol.
Now, I think the group Occupy Wall Street has some things right and some things wrong; I’m not here to justify their political movement.
But the thing that troubles me is not their views. It’s the manner in which the people sworn to protect American citi­zens dealt with the protesters.
The police used excessive force rath­er than apologizing and explaining the wrongness of its decision, citing age-old laws, covering up videos and unexplain­ably having the New York press not cov­er the event.
I thought of my own dodging skill, how I metaphorically put burning liquid in other people’s e y e s with my thought­less ac­t i o n s . Namely, I shop too much. I pay in­credibly cheap pric­es because s ome o n e else, with most likely no mini­mum wage or prospect for the future, is making all my clothing for me. Thinking about the policemen’s disregard of the consequences forced this habit into a harsh and violent light.
To stop my shopping habit, I’ve chal­lenged myself to buy only used clothes and revamp my old ones.
I challenge that we see our choices in a new way. That we put down our meta­phorical mace and take responsibly.
By Maria Kalaitzandonakes