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Veterans Day 2011 – Former St. Louis Officer Patti March Speaks for OcPo at Occupy St. Louis

This is a copy of the speech OcPo supporter and former St. Louis County Officer Patti March delivered to the crowd at Occupy St. Louis just minutes before the 3pm raid was called off on Veterans Day- We will update on this story when our new website is up tomorrow – officer March was shot in the face in 2003 by another officer within the department, she is a victim of Police brutality, and we have teamed up to put an end to violent tactics – More to come on this -

Patti March Former St. Louis Co. Officer & OcPo Member – Kiener Plaza Stage St. Louis 2pm

Hi, and Happy Veterans Day :) ….my name is Patti March, and I’m a former St. Louis Co. Police Officer, a member of Occupy Police and a long time citizen of St. Louis. I come before you today on behalf of Occupy Police, Myself, and the citizens of a city I’ve both protected, and called home to for many years. I also came here today to stand openly with the 99% of St. Louis. There’s a misconception that Police aren’t part of the 99%, well I’m here to end that misconception. There’s another misconception that I’m here today to end, and that’s that police officers are violent and brutal by nature, and while that may be true for a handful of officers nationwide, it is not true for the majority of them. No one knows this better than me. I’ve shared a large part of my life with some of the best officers St Louis has to offer …. and almost lost my life at the hands of the worst. I come to you today as a former officer, and …a victim of police brutality.

You heard that correctly …I was once a victim of police brutality,

Patti after her 1st of 15 surgeries -

Patti after her 1st of 15 surgeries -

and like the dozens wounded in Oakland over the past few weeks, I survived. I survived and now I’m here to bring a message to police officers around the world, and that message is this. YOU are part of the 99%, and you do not have to harm civilian protesters in your city. You do not have to harm those you swore to protect, because a mayor tells you to do so. Albany Police said it best just a few weeks ago when they found themselves stuck between a tyrannical mayor and their community they said “leave policing to police” When the governor of NY issued the order to disperse Albany protestors, Albany Police simply said ..”NO”

…and it’s not just Albany that refused to remove protesters. There are many small cities and towns ..all across America who are refusing to remove protesters, after all …if we lose our first amendment rights, then we’ve lost it all. Just weeks ago Occupy Police launched the beginning of it’s online campaign in a meager attempt to find officers who would provide sound backing to a Police movement that seemed to be a lost cause heading no where. In our first day online, civilian support poured in while a handful of officers cautiously trickled through the backdoor anonymously. These are cops with real issues who till now have had no voice in the main movement.

I was one of these cops, and I am tired of being silent, I have a voice and it will be heard. I will not stand by and watch the inadequate leadership skills of a few bad mayors, tear my country apart. I will no longer sit idly by and watch the many police departments in America burn their bridges with the communities they’ve worked hard to protect, all because a tyrannical mayor demands they do so. At what point do we say “enough’s enough” the way Albany PD did.

A few weeks ago the world watched former Marine Scott Olsen fall at Occupy Oakland after taking a direct hit to the head from a tear gas canister. We watched as Oakland Police launched a brutal assault against Oakland citizens and we all watched helplessly. We swore in that moment …never to feel that helpless again. The next day we launched an online petition on behalf of Oakland citizens and Oakland PD which called for the immediate resignation of Oakland mayor Jean Quan, the petition reached it’s 3000th signature in the first 24 hours and under political pressure, mayor Quan backed off. In that moment, we scored a small victory for the movement while putting Oakland PD and the citizens of Oakland back into harmony with each other.

However, this victory in no way addresses the real issue with mayor Quan’s lack of resolve as a leader, what it did do is re-affirm our beliefs that Jean lacked the integrity to lead Oakland. While the occupy movement cheered Jean’s new stance of pro-occupation, we sat back and knew better. She flopped on her stance once, and we knew she would do it again. We continued to push for her resignation as she paraded around the city, in her new position, as the peoples mayor and the people loved her for it…..how quickly we forget.

On November 1st we received an open letter from the Oakland Police department, I’d like to read you that letter to you

1 November 2011 Oakland, Ca.

We represent the 645 police officers who work hard every day to protect the citizens of Oakland. We, too, are the 99% fighting for better working conditions, fair treatment and the ability to provide a living for our children and families. We are severely understaffed with many City beats remaining unprotected by police during the day and evening hours.

As your police officers, we are confused.

On Tuesday, October 25th, we were ordered by Mayor Quan to clear out the encampments at Frank Ogawa Plaza and to keep protesters out of the Plaza. We performed the job that the Mayor’s Administration asked us to do, being fully aware that past protests in Oakland have resulted in rioting, violence and destruction of property.

Then, on Wednesday, October 26th, the Mayor allowed protesters back in – to camp out at the very place they were evacuated from the day before.

To add to the confusion, the Administration issued a memo on Friday, October 28th to all City workers in support of the ‘Stop Work’ strike scheduled for Wednesday, giving all employees, except for police officers, permission to take the day off.

That’s hundreds of City workers encouraged to take off work to participate in the protest against “the establishment.” But aren’t the Mayor and her Administration part of the establishment they are paying City employees to protest? Is it the City’s intention to have City employees on both sides of a skirmish line?

It is all very confusing to us.

Meanwhile, a message has been sent to all police officers: Everyone, including those who have the day off, must show up for work on Wednesday. This is also being paid for by Oakland taxpayers. Last week’s events alone cost Oakland taxpayers over $1 million.

The Mayor and her Administration are beefing up police presence for Wednesday’s work strike they are encouraging and even staffing, spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for additional police presence at a time when the Mayor is also asking Oakland residents to vote on an $80 parcel tax to bail out the City’s failing finances.

All of these mixed messages are confusing.

We love Oakland and just want to do our jobs to protect Oakland residents. We respectfully ask the citizens of Oakland to join us in demanding that our City officials, including Mayor Quan, make sound decisions and take responsibility for these decisions. Oakland is struggling, we need real leaders NOW who will step up and lead, not send mixed messages. Thank you for listening.

The Oakland Police Departments open letter is a cry for help and also mirror image of the mission we had begun only a week before. Occupy Police will continue promoting non-violence and peaceful conflict resolution here in St Louis and in cities across America. We will give officers and entire departments a voice in this movement while openly condemning any city official who puts people at odds with their police. We wish to inform the mayors of America that it is the citizens of a community who govern your position as mayor, therefore it is the citizens of a city who decide whether or not an occupation encampment should remain. We recommend that you lead your city with the people at your back, and address the real issues we put forward. We will no longer sit and watch our mayors lead to the beat of there own drum.

That being said I’ll get to the real reason that I’m here, and I think you already know, if you don’t, then allow me to inform you. Mayor Slay is about to use St. Louis Police to the full extent of his power. Occupy St. Louis is just minutes away from being raided, and I take this stage now to openly call out Mayor Slay on behalf of Occupy Police.

Mayor Slay I demand you show proof that the majority of St. Louis citizens have voted to have this camp scattered. If you cannot show proof of this then you have no grounds to base this raid on. If you cannot show us proof of a majority vote by the citizens of St. Louis to have this encampment removed, then you are clearly acting alone and you are not fit to lead this city. If you raid this encampment without showing proof, then we shall seek a no-confidence vote in your leadership. This is the United States of America and we are a democracy, we are the people and we will be heard!

We await your response….

Thank You

The speech was delivered and within minutes the 3pm raid was called off…

…only to be put back into affect, well after midnight, well after ALL of the reporters covering the speech had left, and long after the sun had gone down. Under the cover of night, Mayor Slay sent in riot police to clear out the camp. We will not forget his folly, or the action he took against Occupy St Louis on Veterans Day 2011 -