The response of the US government to the spread of anti-Wall Street protests in the US and internationally has been a marked increase in police repression and intimidation. Just last weekend, police attacked protest encampments in Chicago, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Phoenix, Dallas, Orlando and Tampa, arresting more than 200 people in all.
Similar attacks have taken place internationally, including the tearing down of protest encampments and mass arrests in Sydney and Melbourne.
Since the protests against social inequality and corporate power began more than five weeks ago in New York City, hundreds have been arrested in cities across the US, including more than 900 in New York alone.
In recent days, particularly since the global protests on October 15, police mobilizations to break up occupations have increased. The presence of police at protest sites has also been augmented, and various tactics have been employed to harass youth and workers expressing the anger of masses of people over the destruction of living standards and social conditions.
These attacks show that the struggle for social equality and against the domination of the banks and corporations is a political struggle against the state. It requires the industrial and political mobilization of the working class in opposition to the ruling class and all of its official institutions and political parties.
The stepped-up repression reflects the real attitude of the Obama administration and the Democratic Party to the demand for social equality being raised by the protests. While expressing sympathy for the demonstrators, in an attempt to co-opt the movement and channel it harmlessly behind Obama’s reelection bid, Obama and company are tacitly backing the ratcheting up of police attacks.
Some of the most savage of these have been carried out in Chicago, whose Democratic mayor, Rahm Emanuel, was Obama’s White House chief of staff before leaving the administration to run for mayor last year. Emanuel, a multi-millionaire former investment banker, ordered the breakup of an occupation in a section of Grant Park early Sunday morning, resulting in the arrest of 130 people. The previous weekend, Chicago police arrested over 175 protesters.
Emanuel is typical of the Wall Street personnel who occupy top posts in the Obama administration. His replacement as White House chief of staff, William Daley, was a leading executive at JPMorgan Chase before entering the Obama administration. Obama’s treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York during the Bush administration and played a central role in organizing the bailout of the banks.
The anti-Wall Street protests are an initial expression of an emerging mass movement of the working class in the US and around the world. Of great significance is the fact, first, that they have focused on the basic social question of inequality and reflect a growth of anti-capitalist sentiment, and, second, that they express a growing awareness of the international character of the struggle.