Transcript: Thom Hartmann: G8/Chicago - Will the whole world REALLY be watching? 9 February '12
Why is there a seemingly endless number of young people showing up at Occupy Wall Street movements?
The first and obvious answer is because this is the first generation since the 1930s who are coming of age in a world where it's unlikely they'll do as well as their parents.
Thirty years of Reaganomics has ripped a hole in The American Dream.
But it could also have something to do with the fact that fewer young adults have a job in America than ever before.
Only 54% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 are employed right now - that’s the lowest number ever recorded since tracking began more than 60 years ago.
And to make matters profoundly worse, they’re drowning in over a trillion dollars of student loan debt - the most ever recorded in the history of this or any other country.
Reaganomics and Clintonomics has created a lost generation of Americans - which is helping to fill the ranks of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
The choice is simple: live on the streets or take to the streets.
But that doesn't explain why the movement got as big as it did, as fast as it did.
It doesn't explain how a small encampment in Zuccotti Park - with little mainstream media attention - turned into a worldwide movement.
For that - we have to thank the police.
Images like these led to Occupy spreading like a wildfire.
Women getting corralled and pepper sprayed in New York.
The streets of Oakland turning into a war zone - with cops firing tear gas canisters at people's heads and shooting rubber coated steel bullets.
Students sitting peacefully in protests at the University of California Davis - well within the rights laid out in the first amendment - getting doused with a chemical weapon in the face.
These are the images that have inflamed the American part of this revolution.
And we can thank citizen journalists who took out their cameras when times got dangerous to record these images.
They needed to make sure that the chants around them WERE true - and that the whole world WAS indeed watching.
This video is as crucial to the movement as are the horrors of the unemployment figures - the ongoing corruption in Washington, DC - and the crimes that it looks like Wall Street banksters are going to get away with, scot-free.
But in Illinois - in Chicago - where a massive Occupy demonstration is scheduled in May when the G8 and NATO come to town to hold joint summits - videos like we just saw - those kinds of images - are illegal.
According to the Illinois Eavesdropping Act of 1961 - it’s illegal to record a police officer - and those who violate the law could face up to 15 years in prison.
With tens - if not hundreds of thousands of patriots set to converge to “Occupy Chicago” in a few months - this could be a BIG problem.
Luckily - one Illinois state Representative - Elaine Nekritz - is proposing an amendment to this law.
Under Illinois House Bill 3944 - which she introduced - citizens will have the right to film law enforcement officers in any public space.
And most of the brutality we've seen from the NYPD - the OPD - or the UC Davis police - has occurred in public places.
Being able to video tape what's happening - is the people's best defense against excessive police force - and, ironically, webcam videos are also the police's best self-defense when anarchists begin trashing things and the police actually have a legal obligation to respond.
Even Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy agrees with us.
As he told the panel at Loyola University recently:
As far as the use of videotape, I certainly endorse it, for the protection of the police as well as [civilians]...There's no argument when you show videotape and can look at what happened.
The Occupy Wall Street movement has been remarkably peaceful in the nearly 5 months of its existence.
And the proof is out there in the thousands of hours of videotape that has been recorded showing peaceful demonstrations all across the nation.
Let's hope things remain peaceful in May when the movement heads to Chicago - a city that's seen its share of violence and police brutality in the past.
But for self defense - or just for the historic record - just so that we all know - just so that we can all look back on the moments - the movement needs to have its cameras handy - and LEGAL - to make sure the whole world is REALLY watching.
If you're in Illinois be sure to let your state representative and your state senators know to support this legislation to amend that 1961 law.
That's The Big Picture.