Revisiting Occupy Hartford and the Three “P”s

by J. Richard Marra

The original version of this article appeared in The Socialist Webzine in 2012. In celebration of its second anniversary, I offer this updated recollection of Occupy Hartford.

Two years ago this month Occupy Hartford formed at Turning Point Park to protest economic inequality in America and offer alternatives to the oligarchy that controls American political and economic life. Shortly thereafter, on December 6, 2011, the cruel realities of the oligarchy that swept Occupy Wall Street from New York’s Zuccotti Park were realized in Connecticut’s capital.[1] Citing alleged criminal activity, dozens of Hartford police under orders from Mayor Pedro Segarra and commanded by police Captain Joe Buyak descended on Occupy Hartford, evicting a small group of peaceful demonstrators.

The Hartford Police Department’s display of calculated brutishness was different in extent, but not in kind, to that of New York Mayor Bloomberg and his own “[police] army.” The Democrat Segarra directed his army to follow the same game plan that the oligarch Republican Bloomberg and other mayors across America were executing almost daily. We now know that that strategy was developed and coordinated by the Department of Homeland Security.[2] Shortly after the Hartford eviction, I suggested that the strategy was largely guided by three characteristics (The Three ‘Ps’) of American oligarchic governance: patriarchy, propaganda and psychopathology.

Patriarchy, “…idealizes dominance rather than cooperation and partnership…This means that any elements of difference between two groups will be used to determine “superiority” and “inferiority,” dominance and submission.”[3] Given the occupier’s non-violent behavior before and during the eviction, the size of the police contingent was overwhelmingly disproportionate to any putative threat. Indeed, it was unnecessary. Although authorities touted a “cooperative” relationship with protesters, a question remains concerning why any alleged miscreants weren’t headed off. Police are intended to protect citizens as they go about their legal activities. Since the Occupy encampment was legal as protected speech under the First Amendment, the role of the police should be to protect the Occupiers. Posting of an officer at the encampment would have insured public safety. How difficult or expensive is it, what untoward impact to police resources occurs if one officer in the area is instructed to complete paper work or eat lunch near the park? Perhaps the officer could engage in some community policing and interact with the Occupiers to work collectively for safety. Regardless of the truth of the criminal allegations, Hartford authorities chose to use force to evict protesters over establishing a cooperative plan for ongoing police protection. Hartford Police Chief Daryl Roberts (now thankfully retired) astonishingly parroted Segarra’s demeaning canard that occupiers had “lost sight of their original purpose.” Given the history civil rights violations by police during the Civil Rights Movement, Roberts should understand the moral implications of using the force of the state to violate the First Amendment rights of Occupiers. Perhaps Roberts should ask is he himself has lost sight of his original purpose.

Media complicity arrived in the form of images of a garbage truck removing “litter” from the park. They reflected the dismissive and degrading characterizations of the protesters by Hartford authorities and the corporate media. This brings us to the second “P,” Propaganda. The hubris of city authorities was palpable in their claim of “cooperation” with occupiers. This assistance amounted to conveniently exposing the occupation to criminal activity. The paucity of marked police in the area during most of the occupation was not lost on protesters. Police know that inattention breeds mischief. They also know that criminal mischief, real or fictitious, would provide Hartford authorities an excuse to evict the occupiers. So in the self-serving and amoral twilight of propaganda, neglect becomes “cooperation.” Commenting on the eviction, Captain Buyak explained that “what has happened around the country” provoked concern that “police [might] get injured.” He assured all that, ”[The police] not here as thugs or any of that.” Whether Buyak’s minions were thugs is arguable and insignificant. The action forcibly denied protesters their constitutional right of free speech and peaceful assembly. The police exhibited overpowering and aggressive behavior and used “their power to control…people…[who] may have a hard time defending themselves.” Nevertheless, “cooperative” authorities depict a small group of peaceful citizens as at least corrupt and misguided, and at most a potential danger to a division of well-armed police and the Greater Hartford community.

The final “P” is “Psychopathology.” Most have heard madness defined as doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different outcomes. As Hldaky’s article declared at the time, “Expect to hear a lot more from CT’s Occupy protesters in 2012.” Indeed, Occupy remained active after the majority of occupations cleared. Although the first phase of the Occupy Movement is over, protests continue at an increasing rate, many of which are sponsored or joined by Occupy. The excesses of the oligarchy continue to be met with the versatility, adaptability and commitment of the true left. Propaganda increasingly alienates protesters from the police and public officials, and misinforms the public.

Events “around the country” should counsel officials that continuing current practices will only increase social unrest and public outcry. Hopefully, mayors and police commanders across America will mature as the current environment of public protest expands. If so, we might be spared from the nightmare of an Iraq veteran dying from a concussion caused by a noise grenade, or an elderly woman choking to death from tear gas, or a teenager shot through the head because of an ambiguous command by a paranoid police captain.

[1] Hladky, Gregory B.. “We’ll Be Back.” Hartford Advocate 15 Dec. 2011 and Carlesso, Goode, Spencer and Leukhardt. “City Clears Occupy Hartford Campsite,” The Hartford Courant 16 December 2011.

[2] Lindorff, Dave.  “Evidence Homeland Security Coordinated Occupy Crackdown,” 23 – 25 March 2012.

[3] 1 March 2011.


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