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Keith Olbermann, Countdown: Occupy Seattle: Octogenarian activist Dorli Rainey on being pepper-sprayed by Seattle police, importance of activism

Occupy Seattle: Octogenarian activist Dorli Rainey on being pepper-sprayed by Seattle police, importance of activism
Keith Olbermann, November 16, 2011

Eighty-four-year-old activist Dorli Rainey tells Keith about her experience getting pepper-sprayed by the police during an Occupy Seattle demonstration and the need to take action and spread the word of the Occupy movement. She cites the advice of the late Catholic nun and activist Jackie Hudson to “take one more step out of your comfort zone” as an inspiration, saying, “It would be so easy to say, ‘Well I’m going to retire, I’m going to sit around, watch television or eat bonbons,’ but somebody’s got to keep ’em awake and let ’em know what is really going on in this world.”

transcript after the fold

KEITH OLBERMANN: Let’s go to Seattle, where Occupy protesters were pepper sprayed last night. Among them, political activist and Occupy Seattle supporter Dorli Rainey. It’s a great pleasure to have you on the program tonight.

DORLI RAINEY: Thank you, Keith. It is a pleasure to be here.

OLBERMANN: Now, before we get into last night, we have seen the pictures, so the obvious question is — how are you feeling today?

RAINEY: I am feeling great. I feel so energized. It’s amazing what a little pepper spray will do for you.

OLBERMANN: It seems to have that effect on people who know they are in the right. How did you get involved in all that last night? Can you tell us?

RAINEY: Well, first of all, I have been involved at all of these actions — civil rights, the women’s rights, and now this. So, this is a natural progression for me. And I was in D.C. with the October — the October 2011 group — from the 6th through the 10th of October, which was exhilarating to hear these great speakers that we had there. When I came back, I was totally overcharged to start working here.

So, yesterday — I was on my way to one of these boring transportation meetings when I got off my bus to change to another one, I heard tons of helicopters overhead. You could not hear yourself think. And I thought, “Well, it’s probably Occupy Seattle is doing a — an action there to help out Occupy Wall Street.” And I decided to go up there and check it out.

And sure enough, right in front of the Nordstrom store at the big intersection was — first of all, an army of police officers, bicycles, cars, lights, et cetera — and the people were in the center of that intersection blocking traffic all around. A lot of my friends were there. And my friends consist of all age groups, all colors.


RAINEY: No matter what some of the media say, that they are rats and crazy and druggies, et cetera. That is just not so. So, I stood out there with my friends, and we were just deciding that we had stayed there long enough and we might go on. Well, we’re not a secret society, and when somebody says mic check, everybody can hear it, and the cops also knew that we were on the verge of leaving. Just at that moment, the bike patrol came up and shoved bicycles into the crowd moving them to the center, and simultaneously they let go of the pepper spray. And in the pictures, you can see where the pepper spray came all over.

So, I got pepper sprayed and shoved and thanks heavens there was a wonderful, young Iraq veteran who stood next to me, and just he grabbed me as I stumbled with people who were pushing — people couldn’t see where they were going — the cops kept pushing with the bicycles, and the space we were in got smaller and smaller, so we were really pinned in. And that young man stabilized me. Otherwise, I would have been on the ground, trampled. And this really is not a good picture to think about.

So, after that, then some people helped me to go back to the bus and I went home. But the great thing is that I ride these buses an awful lot, and some of the people — I see them at least once or twice a week on the bus, “Hello, how are you?” And they said, “What happened to you?” And I had no mirror, so I must have looked a fright. And the bus driver said, “Hey, what happened to you?” I said, “I got pepper sprayed by Seattle’s finest.” And the other people piped up and said, “That’s terrible.”

And the wonderful thing that happened is this bus full of people started talking about Occupy. And they had never seen a real person that they could identify with who got pepper sprayed. And it became a really wonderful educational opportunity for me to convert a busload full of people to our way of thinking.

OLBERMANN: Is that your hope for what this is going to do for America? That, more than anything else, it’s going to educate people for what they are up against?

RAINEY: We have to do that, and the time is of the essence. We are seeing the FCC trying to take away the free internet. I remember Goebbels. I remember the time — I grew up over there. And I remember the shrinking of the print media. We had one newspaper. It was called Völkischer Beobachter — The People’s Observer. And it was the same from North Germany down to South Austria, same propaganda: “We’re winning the war. We’re sinking the U-boats and we’re into Scotland.” So — we were doing so well, it’s amazing how long the war lasted after we were winning it already. And I see the same thing happening here.

We have, really, no more free media that will bring you the issues instead of just the soft, fluff entertainment, the repeated stuff about some actress somewhere being pregnant or not pregnant or wanting to go get married and not. This should be on the entertainment pages, but not on the mainstream news media.

So, we have such incredible issues here, right here in our town. We live 20 miles from ground zero of the Bangor missile base. And in order to get any attention from any media, we go there and we occupy the street going into the missile base. And we get arrested there and nobody cares, nobody says anything, except the people who want to drive in and out of the base and earn their living there — they don’t much like us.

But we have — one of my heroes was a Catholic nun who spread her blood on a missile silo in Colorado and got incarcerated. And she did an action in Tennessee and got incarcerated. She — her name was Jackie Hudson. She recently died. And a lot of it was because of the mistreatment in the prison system in Tennessee. She used to say, “Whatever you do, take one more step out of your comfort zone.” And that is what I do. I take a step out of my comfort zone.

It was so easy to say, “Well, I’m going to retire, I’m going to sit around, watch television or eat bon-bons.” But somebody has got to keep them awake and let them know what is really going on in this world. Whether it’s J.P. Morgan doing the financing plan for our ill-fated tunnel, which is coming up, which the city council — some member even admitted they never read the environmental-impact statement, because it is boring.


RAINEY: Well, I read the whole dang thing and my eyeballs are still pink from reading it. And nobody talks about these things. They are not in the media. And the Chamber of Commerce pushes things like our tunnel, because they earn big profits when they start developing the properties around there when the tunnel — when the viaduct is done. And the taxpayers are on line for this. And so — I am an issues person, I always have been.


RAINEY: So, is what you wanted to hear? Do you have any questions?

OLBERMANN: No, you have answered all of my questions. And you are one of my heroes now. Dorli Rainey –political activist, Occupy Seattle supporter and one of those punk kids out there on the streets — an honor to have you on the program. Keep going one step outside of your comfort zone and we’ll try to do the same thing here.

RAINEY: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: Thank you.

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