Occupy Week, Part IV: Eric

Part I: The People
Part II: The Camp
Part III: The Message

In today’s post, I’ll be taking a brief break from speculating and talking about the movement as a whole, and will use this time to talk about Eric. While it may seem like a filler anecdote, I believe it illustrates not only the spirit of the movement, but also how the Occupy movement self-regulates and strives to maintain a consistent image and message.

Eric seemed, at first, to be like any other Occupier. Here was a man, angry at his current situation, looking for a way to express that frustration. However, he didn’t always express it in a peaceful manner. Eric was always the loudest yeller in the group, and always the first to confront someone who hurled insults at us.

At first, it was admirable. Soon, it got annoying. After a while, some were perceiving it as detrimental to the group. Each new insult would cause Eric to go into a frenzy, launching obscenities, and at one point, physically confronting the insulter.

After the Cardinals won the World Series, there was a huge crowd of people celebrating in the streets. A side effect of this was that traffic was horrible, with many intersections being just as full of cars as it was with people. As a result, the corner we were standing on–7th and Market–required traffic direction from a couple of police officers. After another half-hearted insult from one of the passersby, Eric lost it, and almost attacked the man.

One of the officers, who happened to be standing on the corner and saw the altercation, walked up to Eric, put his hand on Eric’s shoulder, and said something along the lines of, “Sir, you need to calm down and stay back on the grass.”

This set Eric off. He dropped his sign, and started hurling obscenities at the officer. A couple of Occupiers grabbed him and brought him back into the compound, probably to talk him down and get him out of the heat of the moment. A few minutes later, Eric was back in full force, screaming insults and obscenities at the officer, and flipping him the bird.

This went on for nearly an hour. Eric grew more and more angry at the officer as the time went by. Ten minutes in, some of the Occupiers realized that this guy was going to cast a negative image on a movement that is already viewed negatively. Someone went back into the compound, grabbed a spare piece of cardboard, and wrote, “Not With Us,” with an arrow pointing directly at Eric.

Photo taken by Alicia Davis

Eric: not part of the movement, not with us.

Eventually, the officers had enough of the abuse, and they tackled him to the ground and arrested him. We initially thought that that would be the end of it, but then the officer who was receiving the brunt of the abuse approached us.

“We did what we did,” he said, “because some people thought they saw something in his pocket. After we arrested him, we did find that he had a knife, and he did say it was his. We felt he posed an imminent threat to the public, and we used the amount of force we deemed necessary to subdue him.”

That’s fair, we collectively agreed.

“What we need right now,” continued the officer, “is someone to act as a witness for him hurling insults at the officers.”

Everyone in our group looked around at each other. No one was going to act as a witness, because no one saw anything. He wasn’t acting in the best interests of the Occupation, so we completely disowned and ignored him. The officer wasn’t happy, but that was the fact.

The Occupy movement has the interests of average Americans at it’s core, and fringe people like Eric were hurting the cause more than they were helping it. In today’s society, it’s all about image, and the Occupy movement wishes to keep as positive an image as it can in order to more effectively get its message across.

2 Responses to “Occupy Week, Part IV: Eric”

  1. Hey Kyle,

    I recently found your blog whilst looking for different perspectives on the Occupy Movement. I liked your openness and honesty and the clarity of your observations and thoughts. Your story of Eric had me thinking, and I write to you now as a result of some of those thoughts, (which I’ll get to presently)

    Earlier in proceedings I wrote a blog post The Occupy Together Movement- Collective Actions and the Need for Individual Thought (http://wp.me/p1buck-ej), some thoughts I had and information I’d come across on the involvement of certain elements within the movement.

    This was networked through media such as Facebook. Responses to that output were, on the whole, critical. I followed that post with Essential Information for Members of the Occupy Movement (http://wp.me/p1buck-eE), which provides information on the kind of covert techniques, such as NLP and Miltonian Hypnosis, also known as Conversational Hypnosis for the fact that it can be implemented covertly in conversation) that I felt could be a danger to the movement.

    I’m sure you and you compatriots will find the information useful (presuming, of course, open and inquiring minds). And that seems to be a problem, people’s resistance to challenging information. It’s something I’ve encountered time and again through the years, and now after looking into the phenomena I can identify as Cognitive Dissonance.

    Knowledge is power, is a particular mantra of mine, and awareness of that fact has led me to focus the last five years of my life attempting to empower people through spreading information. The biggest result of those years is a novel Psyclone, the linchpin of a project that includes a website, two blogs, a video, and other digital work-in-progress.

    The appendix of Psyclone, all 86-pages of it, contains around 200 entries, each hyperlinked to my research sources, the whole point of the novel being to put people in touch with the information in the appendix. Appendix II is A Word on Cognitive Dissonance, my way of making people aware of a recognised, but little known about, subconscious psychological process that inhibits and/or prevents the assimilation of challenging new information.

    Following the posts I mentioned above I posted another article, Cognitive Dissonance – a hidden danger to us all (http://wp.me/p1buck-eQ), a cut-and-paste of Appendix II, again hoping to raise awareness in people. Given the subject, the response was not unexpected.

    Your story of Eric had me, has me, thinking, and I write to you now as a result of some of those thoughts.

    In 2009 I wrote a section for the Centre of the Psyclone website called Please Don’t Riot! (http://bit.ly/uSUGzK), named after the article it features from the first edition of The Dot Connector magazine. In that article (p17 of the freely downloadable pdf) attention is drawn to police provocateur action. An incident is described and a still photograph included that shows evidence to support the subject of the article. The video that the still is included on the web page.

    I realise that I’m working with incomplete information, but the explanation given by the cop after the arrest of Eric sounded really corny and, as I say, got me thinking.

    A long ‘comment’, but one I’m sure will be useful to you and anyone else you decide to pass the information on to.

    In solidarity,

    Shyam Mael


  2. […] Makes Sense Making Sense of the World Around Us « Occupy Week, Part IV: Eric Why Christmas Sucks […]

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