Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A 2011 Redux: mass arrests during one year anniversary Occupy demo

By Heather Turner

The shame of police behavior in NYC and other municipalities, which effectively shut down what was a nation-wide movement, has clearly not sunken in. The one year anniversary of the Occupy Wallstreet protests ended with 185 arrests Monday. And, of course, the use of something familiar to activists: heavy-handed police tactics. Police also made no distinction between protesters and journalists: (The Nation)
It was one of the largest turnouts since the early days of Occupy, but Monday was also exceptional because of the high arrest figures. More than 180 individuals, including journalists, were arrested
and in at least some of these cases, the police were arresting individuals arbitrarily and without cause.
Protesters reported, and I witnessed first-hand, police dragging individuals off of sidewalks (previously considered the "safe space" of activists who don't wish to participate in direct action and go to jail) into the street where they were then arrested. When press attempted to rush forth to photograph these arrests, the police formed a wall and aggressively shoved back journalists, making it difficult to document the actions.
At one point, a NYPD white shirt supervising officer told a group of journalists, "You can't stand and take more pictures. That's over with."
"I just got out of jail. Was arrested despite screaming over and over that I'm a journalist," Chris Faraone, a Boston Phoenix staff writer, tweeted.
Julia Reinhart, a photojournalist, was also arrested even through she was wearing identification that listed her as a member of the National Press Photographers Association.
Another journalist from WPIX was arrested Monday, as was journalist and illustrator Molly Crabapple and independent journalist John Knefel. Knefel's sister, Molly, described the arrest as "violent and unprovoked."
Later in the evening, New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams was assaulted in Zuccotti Park by the NYPD. Protester Jeff Rae photographed a NYPD officer jamming his baton into the councilman's chest.
Organizers estimate that some 1,000 protesters joined the event, in which several different demonstration routes converged at the New York Stock Exchange. Protesters had gathered as early as 6 a.m. Monday morning. Reports of police brutality were sporadic throughout the day, as protesters encountered pockets of more heavy-handed police officers along their demonstration routes. Arrests continued until the early evening, when the few hundred remaining protesters gathered in the now infamous Zuccotti Park were then broken up by police officers and private security guards.  The New York Times also confirms that a city council member was amongst those senselessly treated by police:
At one point, as the police arrested a woman inside Zuccotti Park, an officer told a city councilman, Jumaane D. Williams, to get down from a granite bench. Mr. Williams refused, saying he was a Council member and wanted to observe. After Mr. Williams refused a second order to get down, two officers shoved him with batons, knocking him off the bench.

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