As police start using violence to quell the OWS protests, the real question becomes:
Can the government control itself? What does it mean?
From what I have seen, OWS does not constitute a life endangering situation that would require a violent response. While I personally think the OWS protestors are a bit off-base with their methods, that is not enough reason for the government to step in with strong arm tactics.
The OWS movement is going to do what it is going to do. (Let me know when OWS actually decides on what concrete measures it wants.) We are all responsible for our own behaviors. That goes for those in the OWS as well as the police and their commanders.
The police are gradually losing their neutral status here.
When you see images of a kid being manhandled and a woman getting hit in the face while trying to present a court order to a cop, something is seriously wrong. (I admit that I have not seen the full lead up to what happened in this clip, so there may have been other elements, but this clip is pretty incredible.)
The police are subservient to the courts. At least I hope that is still the case. If the police are not answerable to the court system, then who do they answer to?
Once the cops take sides against the protestors, who can stop them?
If the tents and other materials 'confiscated' from the OWS members, and that material is harmed or destroyed in any way, do the protesters have a case against the police for theft and destruction of property?
Can members of OWS file police reports against these officers?
Can those cops be suspended from duty while an investigation takes place? I don't know if you can make a public safety argument for keeping a cop on the streets that is destroying citizens' property. That is exactly the cop the rest of us need to be protected from.
Will the court system allow a hearing on these charges? The court system has to step in and assert its authority over the police NOW. Otherwise, do we still have a society based on the rule of law?
If we no longer have a society based on the rule of law, at what point will the OWS protesters be justified in hitting back at the police? I am in no way advocating violence, but at some point members of OWS may be morally justified in defending themselves. If the cops are using tear gas and rubber bullets, can these elements be considered deadly force?
Are the police now baiting an in-kind response from OWS members?
The question I don't want to see answered is -- what happens when they get it?
If you were sitting on a jury afterwards, could you excuse the behavior of either side? Who would you determine needs more protection from the justice system -- the cops with the weapons or the OWS protesters?