By Art Kirkland
Let’s say you got in a fistfight with your next-door neighbor.
You wouldn’t expect to find yourself being judged in court by his best friend the next day.
However, that’s roughly the situation confronting Occupy Wall Street in New York City. Its members face a criminal court system in which every judge has either been appointed or reappointed by the city’s billionaire mayor, who is an icon for the very Wall Street greed that gave birth to their movement.
The outcome on Wednesday, Dec. 14, was predictable. New York City Criminal Court Judge Neil Ross denied a motion for summary dismissal filed by the National Lawyers Guild on behalf of those arrested, even as prosecutors were offering to drop charges against any Occupy Wall Street member who agreed to cease protesting for six months. It’s a political strategy rooted in the same personal agenda that has driven Michael Bloomberg’s caustic response to a loyal opposition movement comprised of well meaning American patriots.
Bloomberg, the 11th richest man in the United States, reappointed Ross in January 2009.
More than 1,400 arrests have been made in New York City at the mayor’s direction since the nonviolent pro-democracy group began challenging the status quo 89 days ago. That’s an arrest rate of 16 per day.
The 300 protesters appearing in court this week were primarily detained during an Oct. 1 demonstration on the Brooklyn Bridge, when an estimated 700 arrests were made. Most face charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. More than 1,000 people have been arrested in New York City for participating in Occupy Wall Street movement by the over-entitled Bloomberg regime.
All 109 criminal court judges are mayoral appointees in New York City, where they serve 10-year terms.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a lot of things, but he’s hardly a disinterested observer in this class warfare dustup. He is the richest person ever elected to public office in the United States, with a vested interest in protecting a Wall Street business community that has helped him amass more than $19.5 billion in personal wealth. He owns Bl0omberg LP, a privately held company that provides stock market information and news to more than 400,000 subscribers.
A Bloomberg LP terminal costs $1,500 a month. The vast majority of people who can afford that price-tag are those who make money from money – aka Wall Street professionals.
Peaceful political protest was a legal activity in New York City before Bloomberg moved into Gracie Mansion, and people were allowed to walk down the street in front of the New York Stock Exchange without a special pass. He’s made both activities a crime for anyone who does not support his view of capitalism and democracy, in which the rich enjoy a disproportionately higher share of societal benefits and a disproportionately lower share of its burdens.
Occupy Wall Street is a pro-democracy movement that has sought to highlight societal inequalities that have transformed American democracy into an oligarchy the past 30 years by erecting financial barriers to elected office that favor the wealthy and allow influential industries to self-regulate.
Half the 659 U.S. Senators and Representatives were millionaires in 2010, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. That compares with only 1% of the 315 million people who live in the U.S.
The average net worth for a member of Congress is more than $3.8 million, not counting non-income-producing property such as personal residences, according to David Rosnick, an economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. That dwarfs a similar measure of net wealth for all Americans households, which is around $340,082.*
Bloomberg’s is 66 times richer than Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), who is the wealthiest member of Congress with a net wealth of more then $294 million.
Bloomberg has used his own wealth to overwhelm opponents in a blizzard of political advertising all three times he’s run for mayor. He’s appointed more than 200 criminal and family court judges since buying his way into public office.
Bloomberg has shown us time and again that he does not think normal rules should apply to the rich, just as he did when he changed New York City electoral law to allow himself to run for a third term in 2009. He’s placing a similar greasy thumb on the legal system now.
Martin Stolar, an attorney affiliated with the National Lawyers Guild, estimated that 166 people were scheduled to show up in court Dec. 14, with another 185 more appearing in the next week.
The painful truth is that none of them should have to spend a day in front of any New York City judge appointed by Bloomberg. All of the cases should be moved to a legal system that has not been tainted by his over-entitled stink.
*The Cynical Times calculated this rough estimate for U.S. household net wealth, minus the value of a primary residences, in the following manner: We began with a $500,000 figure from Rosnick. We then subtracted a rough estimate for the average value of a U.S. home by multiplying the average home sales price in October 2011 of $242,300 by .66 to reflect the homeownership rate in the third quarter of 2011.