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‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement sparks clashes, arrests in D.C. and Boston

The “Occupy Wall Street” movement has spread from New York to several other major cities, including Boston, which had several protester arrested Tuesday after clashes with police. Elizabeth Flock reported the latest from “Occupy Boston” :

Scores of protesters from the Occupy Boston movement were arrested in the early hours of Tuesday morning, including a group of veterans, in one of the largest mass arrests in recent Boston history.

Members of the Boston Police Department moved in to dismantle and destroy tents after protesters ignored multiple warnings to move from the Rose Kennedy Greenway, a strip of parks and public spaces where they have been camped out for more than a week, the Boston Globe reports. Members of the media were told to leave and not to film. Patrol wagons were lined up on one side.

Startling footage that has emerged on YouTube shows what is believed to have happened next.

Police appear to clash with peacefully protesting veterans from Veterans For Peace, an organization of U.S. military veterans who oppose war. The veterans’ flags, including the American flag, also appear to be thrown to the ground. All the while, the veterans chant: “We are the veterans of the United States of America” and “Shame! Shame! Shame!”

According to Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, 100 arrests were made, including a female veteran of the Iraq War.

Boston police spokesman Jamie Kenneally said the arrests were mostly for trespassing.

Mike Ferner, acting director of Veterans For Peace, says that while he appreciates that police came in wearing ordinary uniforms instead of SWAT clothing or helmets, “It appears they did manhandle a few of our members. We need to remember the police are in the 99 percent along with the rest of us, and hopefully we can appeal to that important connection.”

In Washington D.C., several protesters aligned with the “Occupy DC” movement were arrested as they entered a Senate office building with banners. As David Fahrenthold and Paul Kane explained:

Six people were arrested in the Senate’s Hart office building on Tuesday, after protesters affiliated with the “Occupy D.C.” movement began chanting loudly and unfurling banners calling for the end of overseas wars and for increased taxes on the rich.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Capitol complex, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) softened his tone on the protest movements in both Washington and New York. On Friday, he had referred to them as “growing mobs.” But he steered away from that description Tuesday.

Instead, Cantor criticized Democrats for encouraging the demonstrations. But he called the protesters “justifiably frustrated”

“People are afraid, and I get it,” Cantor said Tuesday.

The protest that led to the arrests began about 11:30 a.m., in Capitol Hill’s most modern office building, with a soaring open atrium. An organizer said the protesters — inspired by the “Occupy Wall Street” protests in Manhattan — had chosen this one of the Capitol’s six office buildings to target because “it has great acoustics.”

David Swanson, a Charlottesville native who was one of the organizers, said a group numbering in the hundreds had gathered on open walkways that face the building’s atrium on the third, fifth and seventh floors. He said they chanted “How do you fix the deficit? End the wars! Tax the rich!”

While some deride this movement as lacking in the willpower to turn its media spotlight into meaningful change, others see more potential. Some say the “Occupy” movement and its affiliates are a larger social force that have the potential to destabilize the current system of corporate relations with Washington, and the general public. As Robert Monks observed :

“Money is overthrown and abolished by blood.”

Oswald Spengler wrote these words more than a century ago in “The Decline of the West.” And while the imagery here may be a bit much, there’s something of it in the Occupy Wall Street protests.

This movement profoundly threatens the legitimacy of the system on which corporate power is based, and boards of directors should be concerned.

Corporations are creatures of statute. There is no Common Law of corporations, they are instruments licensed by the state originally in aid of certain public objectives. But few of these objectives are left. With the passage of time, corporate charters have lost any power to keep corporations in check. What is left? Only the pursuit of wealth. As Baron Thurlow reportedly said, “Corporations have no soul to save and no body to incarcerate.” Their charter is in the gift of the public. They have no inherent right to exist.

Amidst the welter of information about executive pay, only one simple conclusion is possible: Pay is not correlated in any way with the value these leaders create for shareholders, society or any other corporate constituency. CEOs largely pay themselves, notwithstanding a raft of misnomers such as “independent compensation committee member” and “independent compensation consultant.” The system imbalances are there for all to see.

Recent protests — Occupy Wall Street, of course, but also the Tea Party movement as it first began — rise out of a profound rage over unfairness in this country. The scale of this unfairness and inequity makes it hard to know where to direct that rage, to know what to do. Occupy Wall Street has the right target; but where their rage will go, nobody today knows. I am certain, though, that any alert board should be instructing their managers to do three things: Admit the problem exists, take positive steps to make the corporation function fairly, and consider what other steps would address the concerns of the protests.

Simple? Not quite. But necessary? You bet.

More from The Washington Post

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