Celebrated feminist writer and social critic Naomi Wolf, has been arrested in New York following involvement in the Occupy Wall Street protests.
Wolf, who this summer became concerned with the work of Southampton scholar Dr Stephen Morton on the language of terrorism, was detained by police authorities with approximately fifty others after refusing orders to move onwards from the Skylight Studio building where New York State Governor Cuomo was receiving a professional award. The group were stationed in support of a millionaires’ tax, which the Democrat governor opposes.
The arrest is one grain in a sandstorm designed to choke the lungs and blind the eyes of the long running Occupy Wall Street movement, which officially began its protest on 17th September 2011. Whilst individual motives for involvement are varied, the self-styled “people-powered movement… inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia” purports to be fighting against “the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations.”
It’s uncertain whether or not the movement is right to stake a claim in the heritage of democratic uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. Yet the parallels have been established thick and fast with ‘Liberty Square’ arising in solidarity with the principles of Egypt’s Tahrir Square, the crucible of Mubarak’s downfall. Organisers claim that the events of the summer are… ‘horizontal’ progressive action.
The police response has predictably caused public controversy. A senior police officer allegedly used a can of mace on a crowd of females already contained behind a police barrier. The reported penalty was the loss of 10 days holiday. No such brutality was used against Wolf who was led in handcuffs to a police car.
Since her release, Wolf has publically criticised what she sees as the myriad “Stalinist” restrictions on public protest, including prohibitions on the use of megaphones and restrictions on the right of assembly. She further attacked the “opaque processes” under which US authorities are responding to the demonstrations. “It’s a completely opaque process. If your permit is refused, you can’t find out who refused it and why. It’s completely Stalinist.”