For a long time, there have been those that have warned that economic riots are coming to this nation. Anger and frustration with the economy and with our financial system have grown to unprecedented levels, and this has fueled the rise of the various protest movements that we have seen over the last couple of years. People are fed up and they want solutions. Unfortunately, anger and frustration can express themselves in dangerous and unpredictable ways. What we have seen in Oakland, in Seattle and in other major U.S. cities this week is only just the beginning of the massive economic riots that are coming to this country. Yes, "anarchists" were responsible for quite a bit of the violence that we have seen this week, but they were not the only ones involved. Some protesters were getting violent too, and there has also been quite a bit of police brutality. Of course the vast majority of Occupy Wall Street protesters do not want anything to do with violence and they recognize that violence is not the answer. But that is the thing with anger and frustration. It is hard to contain them in neat, self-disciplined packages. As the economy continues to get worse, the protests will grow and unfortunately so will the violence. You can preach the benefits of non-violence all day long to some people but they just will not get it. America has reached a turning point, and what we are seeing now is only just the beginning of the madness. In the years ahead we are going to see rioting that is going to be absolutely unprecedented.
According to a recent Associated Press-GfK poll, 43 percent of all Americans believe that the economy is in "very poor" shape. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, millions of Americans have lost their homes and tens of millions of Americans have been sickened by what they have seen happen on Wall Street over the last four or five years. It is easy to understand why people are frustrated and are marching in the streets. As I wrote about yesterday, approximately one out of every seven Americans is on food stamps. Poverty is rapidly spreading and large numbers of families have lost everything. People want answers, and it is understandable why so many are joining these protest movements.
Over the last couple of years, people such as Gerald Celente and myself have been warning that economic riots are coming. Those of us that have written about such things have been called "doom and gloomers" and "conspiracy theorists".
But after the events of the last couple of months, almost everyone is starting to realize that something big is happening.
On Wednesday, huge crowds of protesters brought the city of Oakland, California to a standstill. Some media organizations said that there were 5,000 protesters, but others claimed that there may have been up to 20,000 people marching at one point.
A group of approximately 3,000 protesters marched over and shut down the Port of Oakland, which is the fifth largest deepwater port in the United States.
In other areas of the city, windows were smashed, graffiti was sprayed on buildings and senseless acts of vandalism were committed. There were also quite a few intense confrontations with police and dozens of protesters ended up getting arrested.
The following is how an article in USA Today described what went down....
Riot police arrested more than 80 protesters in the city's downtown, where bands of demonstrators threw chunks of concrete and metal pipes as well as lit roman candles and firebombs, police said. Five protesters and several officers were injured.
You can see shocking pictures of some of the vandalism that was going on during these protests right here.
At one point, one group of protesters took over an empty building that had once been used to help the homeless. The following is what an article in the Los Angeles Times says happened next....
Demonstrators managed to gain entry to an empty building that had housed the Traveler's Aid Society, a nonprofit organization that assists the homeless but had suffered funding cuts. Leaflets indicated that protesters had targeted the building for "reuse." They branded it a new "community center" in Twitter feeds. Video from a local ABC affiliate's helicopter showed jubilant crowds flowing in and out of the building, where a banner marked "Occupy Everything" hung. Others built a barricade nearby, presumably to discourage police.
Shortly before midnight, local media reported that police officers from various agencies were suiting up in riot gear. Some demonstrators set the barricade aflame. Firefighters doused it. A police statement later said protesters had hurled rocks, explosives, bottles and flaming objects at officers.
Does any of this solve anything?
Of course not.
But when people are angry and frustrated it can be difficult to talk sense to them.
America has become a powder keg, and it is going to be very difficult for anyone to control what is going on.
However, it also must be noted that not all of the violence was initiated by Occupy Oakland protesters. There were dozens of Black Bloc "anarchists" that were running around committing random acts of violence. Some Occupy Oakland protesters were actually seen trying to prevent these "anarchists" from committing acts of violence.
In fact, it is certainly possible that someone may be using these Black Bloc "anarchists" to discredit the protests. It has happened to other protest movements in the past.
In any event, it is very true that the "anarchists" were very much involved with much of the violence. You can see some video of "anarchists" in action right here.
But Oakland was not the only city where protesters were becoming more aggressive.
In Seattle, protesters surrounded a Sheraton hotel where JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon was giving a speech. According to some media reports, some of the protesters were actually planning to make a "citizen's arrest".
Their plans were cancelled, however, when police dispersed them with a shower of pepper spray.
The funny thing is that Dimon was actually promoting some of the ideas of the Occupy Wall Street movement during his speech.
The following excerpt from his speech comes from the Seattle Times....
"America has become more inequitable in the last 10 or 20 years. That's a fact," he said. "I don't personally think that's a good thing. I've been a big supporter of progressive taxes."
But that is the funny thing about economic riots. Just because you agree with the crowd, that does not mean that the crowd is not going to turn on you anyway.
Earlier that same day in Seattle, there was quite a bit of violence as police confronted groups of protesters. The following is how the Seattle Times described the action....
Earlier in the day, Seattle police arrested six people, five of whom had sprawled across the floor inside a Chase Bank on Capitol Hill.
Officers launched pepper spray, shoved protesters out of the way and yanked others from under a police van during a tense 30-minute confrontation. Police said at least 10 officers were physically assaulted during the arrests, and at least two of them had minor injuries.
In New York City, a different kind of confrontation took place. Approximately 100 military vets showed up in uniform and marched over to the New York Stock Exchange. Once they arrived, they stopped directly in front of the building which was protected by a line of heavily armed NYPD officers. It was a tense moment, but fortunately there was no violence.
This kind of "stare down" cannot be a sign of good things. What would have happened if even a single person had lost their cool?
While standing in formation in front of the New York Stock Exchange, the vets were heard chanting the following slogans....
"We are veterans! We are the 99 percent!"
"Corporate profits on the rise, soldiers have to bleed and die!"
Things are certainly getting very, very interesting.
The Occupy Wall Street protests started off very peacefully, but sadly there is no guarantee that the violence we are seeing now is not going to escalate even further.
One recent survey found that 31 percent of those involved with the Occupy Wall Street protests "would support violence to advance their agenda".
That is a frightening statistic.
Hopefully everyone will calm down and the protesters will realize that they will get much farther ahead by non-violent means.
But once again, anger and frustration are difficult to predict or control. The more angry and frustrated that the American people get, the more chaotic the streets of our cities are going to become.
Sadly, while the vast majority of Americans agree that we have major problems, there is tremendous disagreement about what the solutions are. There are some good ideas floating around out there, but there are also some groups that are promoting some very, very bad ideas.
For example, there are some elements involved in the Occupy Wall Street protests that are actually promoting communism as the answer.
During the recent craziness in Oakland, some protesters actually hung a very large black banner downtown that said the following: "DEATH TO CAPITALISM".
But is that really the answer?
Of course not.
Yes, our system is deeply, deeply corrupt and deeply, deeply broken.
Yes, it is understandable that people are very frustrated with it.
But communism is not the answer.
Look, when Republicans defend the abuses of the big banks and the big corporations they are wrong to do so.
When Democrats defend big government and advocate even more big government as the answer, they are also very wrong.
The truth is that neither side is right.
We need to dramatically reduce the size of government and we need to dramatically reduce the size and the power of the big corporations. That would mean a lot more liberty and freedom for the rest of us, and it would empower individuals and small businesses.
But most people don't understand this. Most people think that they have to either take the side of the big corporations or the side of big government.
Sadly, the cold, hard truth is that most of the time big government and the big corporations are working together, and it is not for our benefit.
Most people feel a sense of powerlessness these days. Most people feel like things never seem to change no matter who they vote for.
People want things to change, but they don't feel as though they have a way of bringing that change about.
This is not just happening in the United States. As the global economy has faltered, anger and frustration have been growing all over the planet.
In fact, the International Labor Organization is warning that civil unrest could erupt all over the globe if the current economic crisis gets even worse.
We are moving into unprecedented times.
Nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next.
But the warning signs are there.
Pressure just keeps building and building and building.
According to a recent Fox News poll, 76 percent of all Americans are "dissatisfied with how things are going in the country". At the beginning of this year, that number was only at 61 percent.
When people get desperate, they do desperate things.
We can certainly hope that things will settle down, at least for a little while, but at some point another major financial crisis is going to erupt and the economy is going to get even worse.
So what will this country look like when that happens?
This is not the America that your grandparents grew up in.