From Social Rupture.
Folks were crawling into their tents at about 2:30 a.m. last night and attempting to enjoy their first restful night at Occupy Seattle’s new digs on Seattle Central Community College campus. But a few minutes later, three men walked into the camp and began to Sieg Heil salute. I didn’t see this part because I was in the back of the encampment, but when I got up front, dozens of witnesses said they had kicked out the Nazis, including one man had the words “Sieg Heil” tattooed on his chin. These weren’t just people dressed up as Nazis for the Halloweekend, they said, but real-deal white supremacists. Not only did Occupiers push out the Nazis, several said that other protesters were attempting to hit the Nazis with sticks.
By 2:45 a.m., the Nazis were long gone, but the protesters were angry and fighting among themselves. In a two-hour meeting marked by screaming and additional physical confrontations between Occupiers, many argued that the Occupiers needed to keep out Nazis “by any means necessary” while others seemed reluctant to embrace physically aggressive tactics. And this exposed a certain weakness—at least an unresolved disagreement—that polarized the group. When is force necessary for a nonviolent movement?
The argument for using force, raised by several people, is that many people of color and low-income populations come from communities where the police cannot be trusted to impose order (police officers can make a bad situations worse) so protesters need to take matters into their own hands. Others wanted to avoid physical confrontation. As heat grew, one man in a top hat was being physically pushed out of the campus because some people believed he was a Nazi sympathizer (he’d gotten between the Nazis and protesters with sticks earlier to break up the fight, he said). They were pushing him to the sidewalk and screaming at him while he provoked them back. Police began to watch nervously from the sidelines. One woman then sidetracked the meeting—more of a screaming match at this point—when she asked to see a show of hands of everyone who heard one guy call her a “bitch” earlier. This went on for at least two hours. Some said they needed to send a message that Nazis aren’t welcome and others feared the Nazis were trying to infiltrate their movement.