Cops and protestors try to save Det.'s home E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   

Here’s the deal with the “Occupy” protests and police. Without leadership and discipline political demonstrations tend to spiral out of control. Bottles get thrown, cops and protestors alike get hurt, and any message the protests were designed to get out gets lost in chaotic scenes filled with screaming hippies, zip-tied college kids and large volumes of O.C. spray. Things might have worked out a lot differently if the Occupy protestors understood what’s needed to get the message out while preserving public safety. That would be effective and open lines of communication with law enforcement based on trust and mutual interest.

Many of the law enforcement professionals working last year’s protests heard chants like “who are you protecting?” and “you serve and protect the one percent!”

So in addition to preserving public safety, officers also stood in for the real targets — the billionaire bankers and millionaire politicians calling for “shared sacrifice” in the way of European-style austerity measures.

We’ve seen what the results are when well meaning but disorganized protestors look at police officers working the demonstrations as enemies as opposed to fellow hard working Americans.

If you want to see the flip side of that coin you might be interested in a feel-good story out of Atlanta.

Members from an Occupy chapter in Georgia have joined forces with Atlanta police to help Detective Jaqueline Barber.

She was recently informed she was being evicted because she fell behind on her medical bill payments. Barber has been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cell cancer.

So Occupy activists joined current and retired Atlanta police for a different kind of demonstration.

“The police are in the 99 percent and when it comes down to their economic struggles, we’re going to be there to shine a light on those and organize around those,” said Tim Franzen. He and others who were involved with Occupy Atlanta are now part of a group called Occupy Our Homes ATL, which focuses on the housing crisis.

In contrast to chaos seen in some OWS demonstrations, including some in Atlanta, the protest was peaceful, organized and very effective.

Barber is raising four grandchildren. If she’s evicted, she says she fully expects to be homeless.

Det. Barber is the second police officer Franzen’s group has attempted to help avoid foreclosure, the first being a law enforcement officer who ended up losing his home in Snellvile, but who is still involved in a court battle over the property.

A twenty-year veteran with Atlanta PD, Barber retired in 2001 after being struck by a car while on duty. Afterwards, she received the diagnosis of multiple myeloma, and her financial struggles began in 2007 when her adjustable rate mortgage payments when up to $3,886 a month from $2,400.

Fighting back tears, Barber addressed the media in front of her home, saying, “It’s just been hard.”

Barber said she hopes that Occupy Our Homes protesters will return if the eviction becomes a reality.

“If they come to put me out, I’ll hope Occupy Our Homes protesters will be carried out with me because they’re going to have to physically remove me from the property.”

And this is where protestors can learn an invaluable lesson. When you’ve got thousands of disorganized and angry kids in the street raging against an enemy they can’t see or touch, things can go bad in a heartbeat.

But when you try and help someone in trouble, regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, that’s the kind of thing cops understand and support.

In fact that’s what cops do for a living.

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