This video shows a senior NYPD officer swinging his baton, beating protesters at tonight’s Occupy Wall Street march in New York City. Onlookers chant, “The whole world is watching!” The protesters were also reportedly pepper-sprayed. You can hear people screaming at others to cover their eyes, so I don’t see this as outside the realm of possibility.
Reporters at The Guardian UK wrote:
Questions are once again being asked about police tactics – video footage shows officers beating some protesters with batons. Despite the march having a permit, and the roads being closed, police funnelled protesters onto the sidewarks and into tightly-penned areas. This appears to have led to the frustration: police say they made about 12 arrests, mostly for disorderly conduct when a group of protesters tried to push through a barrier.
Many protesters are asking why the actions of the police seem to lead to confrontational situations, which the organisers of the Occupy Wall Street movement are so desperate to avoid.
The footage is horrifying. I know people will argue the officer was justified because he may have thought the situation was out of control. However, this was a permitted march. The roads were closed. The NYPD kettled protesters into tight spaces for no reason.
This resembles the purposeful leading and kettling of protesters onto the Brooklyn Bridge by the police - the same bridge police protested on in 1992. That protest was described as a "beer-swilling melee" by The New York Times. And lest we forget Tony Bologna’s brutality towards kettled protesters, here’s video of him pepper-spraying penned-up demonstrators.
The NYPD cannot be allowed to get away with this any longer. Several of those arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge Oct. 1 filed civil rights complaints in federal court. In the complaint, protesters seek to have their arrests nullified and state:
"After escorting and leading a group of demonstrators and others well out onto the Brooklyn Bridge roadway, the NYPD suddenly and without warning curtailed further forward movement, blocked the ability of persons to leave the bridge from the rear, and arrested hundreds of protesters in the absence of probable cause."
They also seek to have the city barred from using such tactics in the future.
I stand in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street and I urge them to stand their ground. I hope these abuses of the U.S. Constitution do not dissuade people from further joining the movement. If you’re like me and can’t get to New York, find an event here.