Dorli Rainey, octagenarian pepper-sprayed by police at Occupy Seattle, on "the importance of activism" (video)

Dorli Rainey, the elder woman in this iconic and shocking photograph shot by photographer Joshua Trujillo, says to Keith Olbermann during this interview: "I feel great. I feel so energized. It's so amazing the effect a little pepper spray can have on you." She's incredible.

"Now the FCC are trying to take away the free internet," she says, referencing SOPA. "I remember Goebbels. I grew up over there."

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.”

Occupy movement, you now have a leader.

More here at the Keith Olbermann show page at Current.


  1. An amazing post, and not just that in 9½ minute post, that past the intro Olbermann spoke for less that 20 seconds.  Blessed be the peacemakers

  2. “I remember Goebbels. I grew up over there.”
    ^This is gold. Dorli, you are an absolute treasure. WTF is wrong with cops in the US? In Australia I wouldn’t be surprised to see another cop king hit any cop foolish enough to mace an 80 year old lady. Seriously.. when will someone take the aggression back to the cops. There are amusing and non-violent ways to fuck with the cops.

    More low-tech is piss in water baloons. That’s what these assholes deserve.

    (PS – You fudged her name in the post copy)

  3. “Occupy movement, you now have a leader.” = missing the point. People involved in the movement emphasise, over and over, that there aren’t any leaders. That decisions are made by everyone involved. That they don’t want people to become figureheads. And reporters – independent as well as mainstream – keeps asking, “but who are the leaders?”

    1. actually I don’t agree sky. Yes the idea has developed as a loosely based, independent “leaderless” effort, but I think it is fairly obvious to all that the thing cannot sustain itself without some leadership somewhere. the idea of keeping things independent and allowing everyone a voice makes perfect sense, but our society has become far too large for true Artistocrian democracy. I can guarantee you that no leaderless grass roots movement will sustain itself against the tightly knit 1%, and the organized powers that be.

  4. Folks, listen up. When the Patriot Act passed, my grandmother called my mother and said “Get out! Get out now! I’ve seen this before- this is how it starts! Come back to Germany!”

    And now Mrs. Rainey is saying the same thing.

    For those who don’t know- Germans don’t invoke names like Goebbels as a joke. That was a very serious accusation, and not one that should be met with disbelief or even anger, but with an instant stop and a moment of self-reflection.

    1. Anselm, my husband’s grandmother — who grew up in what was then the Sudetenland — said pretty much the same thing about the Patriot Act. And yeah. She doesn’t joke about that.

  5. Amazing woman, but Frank Miller still has a list of all of the people she stole from and all of the people she raped…

    1. She’s such a beautiful unicorn chaser for Frank Miller.  Did you see Dorli Rainey’s  beautiful smile at the end of the interview? Her smile could light up a million rooms Miller has darkened and stunk up.

      Thank you so much for posting this, Xeni.

  6. Once little old ladies get involved victory is assured.  They’re uber-tough as they’ve lasted this long.  You pretty much can’t intimidate them.  They’ve been staring down Death up close and personal for years as all of their friend die off and various parts of their body start to malfunction and shut down.  What’d you  got that they’ll find scary?

  7. Awesome.  A dignified, well-spoken and clear-eyed representative of the occupy movement.  Turns out most of us are!

  8. What a wonderful lady. Truly an inspiration.

    Here’s a thought, if the police force start facing cuts, which as public workers they invariably will if things continue on the current path, will they then be asking  for her support?

    1. That may be why cops are usually spared the budget axe. Here in Toronto they’ve been contemplating closing libraries, old folks homes, bus routes to poor neighborhoods, etc. etc. etc, and are pushing for 10% cuts across the board.

      Except for the police.

      They got a new contract with a huge raise AND a budget increase. I’m guessing politicians don’t want to bite the hand that smacks their enemies.

  9. Wow, Dorli Rainey is amazing. Intelligent, well-spoken, thought through the issues, and persuasive.  She’s lived through some horrifying events and knows what she’s talking about when she sees it happening all over again.

    And, good of Iraq war veteran Caleb for the assist.I hope  Dorli continues to fight and be unstoppable, and inspires more to be like her. In the words of a great man: “I aim to misbehave!”

  10. Glad you guys picked this up. Like the poster on top said, I was surprised Keith let her speak. But my heart warmed when she did.

  11. F*ck. f*ck. f*ck.
    I cannot stop crying.

    My mother-in-law married a german whose uncle was in the Waffen SS. (needless to say his family don’t talk to him any more.) Vater-in-law has been helping intellectually disabled ppl in AU for years. Mutter-in-law’s parents (badass academics) went on a cycle tour of Europe in 1935 – they came back to NZ and told Rotary Club members/whoever that sh!t was going down in Europe.

    No-one would believe them.

    Make your own judgment.

    If I had any family left in the USA, I would tell them to

        1. Un, no. If we do that then we have become them, and they have won. We should stand and not fight. That’s kinda the point, here. If you have to fight someone, please do it somewhere else.

          As for Ms. Rainey – she has a serious posse.

      1. There’s nothing noble or principled about standing next to the captain as his ship sinks into the ocean.

        1. “October 23, 1956 is a day that will live forever in the annals of free men and nations. It was a day of courage, conscience and triumph. No other day since history began has shown more clearly the eternal unquenchability of men’s desire to be free, whatever the odds against success, whatever the sacrifice required.”

          John F. Kennedy
          on the first anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution.

          It’s not some ship, dude.  It’s my home and the home of everyone I love.  Non-violent protest while it works, but push comes to shove I’m fighting to the death.

          1. Homes can be replaced; loved ones (and indeed life itself) cannot.

            If you think that fighting will turn the U.S. back into what it once represented, you are mistaken. You do not have to die to achieve tangible social, political, and economic freedoms. You do not have to die to achieve a responsive government or a decent standard of living. Don’t be so eager to pursue needless death (and thereby cheapen the deaths of others) when you have genuine alternatives. There are many countries in the world whose citizens share your values and to which you and your loved ones would be a welcome addition.

            No empire will last forever.

        2. There’s nothing noble or principled about standing next to the captain as his ship sinks into the ocean.

          Hell, even George W. Bush would decry that attitude as cuttin’ and runnin’.  There’s nothing necessarily terminal about the State of the Union today.  Yeah, it’s headed in the wrong direction.  Yeah, the powers that be are entrenched like well-funded ticks.  But they’re still hopelessly outnumbered, and they probably realize their mistake was taking a couple billion dollars too many over the last few years.  From the Reagan years until the housing bubble burst they were making money hand over fist, and the population at large didn’t squawk because the 99% were just comfortable enough with what trickled down to them.  Now the plutocrats have choked off the trickle a bit too far, and I somehow doubt they’ll be bright enough to let go of the moneybags enough to quell the public’s anger.  It doesn’t have to get violent, but if it does, well, local police forces are barely funded enough to keep actual criminals at bay, and I for one would be amused to see the 1% try to call out the National Guard.  Why?  Because this rage is focused pretty exactly where it should be focused, and bought-and-paid-for as many of you might consider them to be, there is not a single police officer or soldier who actually is a member of the 1%.

          Since there actually are bad cops out there, we’ll see plenty more instances of abuse and overreach like this, and they’ll all turn out to be PR nightmares for the departments and municipalities involved.  Some cops want to brutalize, and that’s what they’ll do, when they think they can get away with it.  Some cops want to fight crime, serve the general public, and be the good guys (otherwise they’d be crooks, since it’s fairly obvious that “Crime Doesn’t Pay” is the stupidest piece of naivete we ever heard as kids, and every single cop knows it).

          This can escalate, and turn into a civil war.  More likely is that the 1% will publicly “cave” while privately regrouping and figuring out how to soak the 99% for more without pissing us off so much.

          What will not result is a vast number of Americans relocating to, say, Scandinavia because America is so hopelessly broken beyond repair.  You have a hard enough time getting people to temporarily relocate in the face of hurricanes and floods.  Few indeed will give up their homeland simply because The Rich believe themselves and their status to be invincible.

          Mister44 above me has it dead right.

          1. I agree, most Americans will not migrate to other countries even though their country is, to use your words, “hopelessly beyond repair.” Most Americans would not know where to start, nor do they have the disposable income to attempt such a move. Many Americans live day-to-day existences as it is now, through no fault of their own.

            But if you believe that the 1% will ‘cave’ to demands that they, in effect, phase themselves out of American life, you will be bitterly disappointed in the future.

          2. But if you believe that the 1% will ‘cave’ to demands that they, in effect, phase themselves out of American life, you will be bitterly disappointed in the future.

            I’m used to being bitterly disappointed.  But I don’t think this time that the bad guys can stonewall until the nation loses interest.  Call me Pollyanna.  But the quotes around “cave” weren’t accidental.  Whatever concessions are made to mollify the 99% will be largely illusory, much like the benefits of last year’s health care reform.  But that will still be good enough for the public.  They can put up with an enormous amount of shafting as long as they are afforded hope that one day they themselves might be able to count themselves among the shafters rather than the shafted.

            But if even the thinnest veneer of reform is not enacted in relatively short order, then I really do think that “class warfare” will soon cease to be a euphemism.

          3. The ‘bad guys’ in the U.S. have often acted just as you suggest: accept the fig leaf of reform and continue to act as before. I agree with you that the “thinnest veneer of reform” is required in order for the 1% to protect themselves and for that reason I expect we will see it. But you and I also seem to agree that 1.) substantive reforms are not likely; and 2.) class warfare is unlikely.

            For those reasons (among others), the sinking ship metaphor seemed most appropriate to me. I do not identify with nor am I sympathetic to the Tea Party movement in the U.S., but I think that they are right to invoke Thomas Jefferson on this issue:

            “God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. […] And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”

        3. Oh poo.

          The ship has been sinking since 1776, in one manner or another. (Same as it ever was.)

          Heavy handed reaction to protests is nothing new in America, nor exclusive to America. I

          This doesn’t mean America is broken beyond repair. Nor are you really going to find some utopia that has no problems to escape to. If you did, they would have very restrictive laws on immigration (which many places in Europe, for example, already have.) On that note, illegal immigration is still happening all the time here, even with the recent passing of stricter laws in some areas. Can’ t be toooo big of a shit hole if others are willing to risk death to get here.

          It’s been worse than it is now, and because of the size of the movement, if it gets some proper leadership and direction it can actually enact real change.

          1. Many people still decide to leave their home countries for the U.S., often because there are fewer economic opportunities in a country like Nicaragua (to use just one example) than the U.S. But the situation is relative: there are many countries with greater long-term prospects than the U.S. I do not regard a humane standard of living to be utopian policy, for example, and many other countries around the world afford you that opportunity. Also note that skilled immigrants have been leaving the U.S. even before the full effects of the Second Depression were felt in the U.S.:


            But more importantly, we probably disagree on the degree to which the American economic, political, and social systems in the U.S. are broken. I believe that the hopes of the #OWS protesters are predicated in wishful thinking rather than a sober examination of the facts.

            But that is okay, we can disagree on this matter.

  12. One does not need to be religious to understand and embrace the idea, the ideal, that “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” But in their blind greed and schemes, the 1% has forgotten and closed its eyes to what the word “society” should really mean. Because of Occupy Wall Street and its offshoots, we are finally talking less about CUTS and more about BLEEDING. Instead of demanding more budget cuts -to be borne by the middle class and poor- we are FINALLY focusing on the shameful bleeding that the poor and middle class has endured for all too long. Instead of talking about even more cuts in the taxes of millionaires…we are now talking about fairness and justice – about an economy and a political system that is run for the rich, and by the rich. Instead of talking about LESS government, we are talking about a government that WORKS FOR ALL OF US, not just a favored few. Thank you OWS, for reminding us that people -ordinary working people- really DO matter, and for helping open our eyes to what’s really going on in this country. Thank you OWS, for standing up for the workers, and for those looking for work, and for those that will graduate or come back from war …and find no work. Thank you OWS, for standing your ground, for enduring illegal beatings and arrests – non-violently. Thank you OWS, from all of us who can’t be there in person, from all of us who are working two and three jobs just to keep up, from all of us struggling to raise our children, or caring for our elderly, or just trying to live with some dignity…..while the rich become richer and more powerful, at our expense. The 1% are running this economy. Indeed, they’re running it right into the ground – with their get rich schemes, their shipping of jobs overseas, their tax evasions, and their cuts in social programs. You inspire and motivate us OWS. You strengthen us, and give us hope.  And we’re damn PROUD OF YOU! This land IS our land! AND WE WANT IT BACK!  We want our FUTURE back! But it’s much more than mere words…. it’s much more than just politics….. it’s your freakin’ LIFE, and how you want to live it, and how you WILL live it. The time has come to choose….to risk…and to act. If not now…then when? If not you, then….who? You DO have the power my friend. Don’t let your dreams die.

  13. I recall Goebbels banning books he disagreed with, I’m not so sure Goebbels was going after printers who were infringing on copyright (or even used that as a pretext). We can stop and self-reflect and decide the Goebbels comparison is pretty far out there. 

    1. Since it isn´t 1933 anymore, the ways in which free speech and access to independent information are gradually dismantled are going to be slightly different, no?

  14. My point is SOPA is putatively content neutral, and its advocates are content neutral. Goebbels was never content neutral.

    1. “Content neutral”?
      You keep using that word; I don’t think it means what you think it means.

      Really now, the entire justification for – and the explicit purpose of – SOPA is to filter out, identify and permanently eradicate certain types of content from the internet. That interpretation is about the only thing both sides of the fence unanimously agree on.

  15. “My point is SOPA is putatively content neutral, and its advocates are content neutral. Goebbels was never content neutral.”

    Silly. Whether “content neutral” or not, it provides another lever for “unintended” authoritarianism later, just as the “perfectly reasonable” Emergency Powers legislation in Weimar gave Hitler his opportunity to take over.

  16. The lady is a true hero.
    Kudos also to Keith Olberman for putting this out there. I hope he can keep his job.

  17. If OWS is going to succeed in actually DOING something, it is going to have to change gears from being solely a protest to political activism. People are going to have to  take up offices in government to enact change.  Look to the Civil Rights movement as an example.

  18. I’m much less worried now than I was during the Bush administration. Then, it seemed like the entire U.S. was completely out of touch with reality. Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, and no one seriously entertained the idea that he didn’t. Iraq was involved in 9/11 and no one argued with that. We absolutely had to invade Iraq as a grave matter of national security, to combat terrorism, and there were no questions. Every serious, respected foreign policy analyst agreed. We simply couldn’t afford the luxury of civil liberties because we had to protect ourselves against terrorism, and nobody made a peep. Anyone who did try to speak up just … got nowhere. No one listened. Writing and calling my elected representatives was like talking to a brick wall. The news media just wasn’t interested at all. Huge numbers of people marched against invading Iraq — but it was like it didn’t happen at all.

    The Big Lie was working — and anyone saying “hey, that’s not true” was just invisible, inaudible, ignored. It was as if I was the only one who could see it. I felt like I was taking crazy pills every day. Or like I had accidentally phased into a neighboring universe where things were just subtly wrong, and I didn’t know how to get back.

    While the news media and many politicians are still full of lies, the fact that #OWS exists and is visible means that the country has a connection to reality now. The protests and the police response are being reported on and discussed, not simply ignored. Some respected analysts and pundits actually see the problems with the economy and are saying so.

    There’s still a whole lot of work and nonviolent fighting to be done. But it’s having some impact. It’s not just falling into the abyss of the Big Lie anymore.

    This gives me a lot more hope than I had in, say, 2004.

    1. I’m much less worried now than I was during the Bush administration.

      I’m much more worried. We knew that we were in Hell then. When you think that you’ve moved up to Purgatory, it’s a bit discouraging when you still know all the demons by name.

  19. But you and I also seem to agree that 1.) substantive reforms are not likely; and 2.) class warfare is unlikely.

    No, I don’t quite agree there.  I think substantive reforms are not likely absent a very real and present threat of violence, or at least a cage-rattling market upset due to a tipping point of people voting with their wallets.  So we won’t see those substantive reforms at first.  Wall Street has dug in its heels even over figleaf reforms, and has thus refused to recognize the precariousness of its position.  Class warfare in the form of torches and pitchforks, rocks and molotov cocktails, or even flattened tires on SLR McLarens does not seem likely at this point… but that’s where we’re headed if the 1% or its regulators continue to refuse to respond.

    I greatly fear the “veneer” response will come too late, which is not what I believed a couple months ago.  The movement has grown large, nationwide even, and its sympathizers outnumber the Tea Party’s.  The inevitable figleaf will mollify many (if not most), but I don’t think it’ll be enough to quiet the nation’s rumblings.  I’m not a betting man, but I suspect that, unlike the leftist dissent of ten years ago, what’s going on is not likely to be inconsequential and ignored as irrelevant.  Too many people have been adversely affected by decisions that have lined the pockets of Wall Street, and those people aren’t going to forget that just because they’re granted a $300 tax break, or a 2% discount on their checking account fees.

    The ship ain’t sinking, but there’s a long-overdue mutiny brewing belowdecks.

  20. My parents fought with Dorli Rainey in the Issaquah School Board Wars 40 years ago.  There was a new social studies program proposed for the district; Dorli was one of the two board members supporting it, but the three member right wing majority voted it down (I think there may have been concerns about “teh socalism” or something).  So the local progressive community got organized, came up with two good candidates, and knocked out two of the three conservatives on the board in the next election.  The local John Birch Society left a note in our mailbox to the effect that “when the time comes, you’re on our list” – I think my father was rather flattered.

  21. Two things…

    Wait, was she actually referencing SOPA, or net neutrality? SOPA is Congress, not the FCC, and the arguments against net neutrality are “the FCC is taking over teh intarwebs!”

    And, regarding the discussion about leaving the US… the US was founded on the principles of fighting for your right to live free, or die. Not waving a white flag and surrendering. (I do also contribute to the Seasteading project, but that’s a very, very last resort.)

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