Sunday, September 25, 2011

NYPD Corrals, then Pepper Sprays Wall Street Protesters

Last week, we reported on the planned protest on Wall Street by Anonymous and other groups, protesting the growing economic inequality in the nation and the role of the Financial Industry in that phenomenon. For almost an entire week, mainstream media sources have ignored the protests as much as they were able, responsing only to bloggers and tweeters (and Keith Olberman) who wondered why Al Jazeera and BBC were reporting on this growing protest, but not US (and Bloomberg-owned) media sources.

Unable to squash the protest, Media Mogul and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Police force crashed a protest march from Union Square to Wall Street, corralling marchers behind a barrier and then pepper-spraying them in the face. The video below captures the incident, showing the young women who were sprayed falling to the ground, and screaming as the pepper spray hit their eyes.

According to the National Lawyer's Guild, over 100 protesters were arrested Saturday as they carryied banners and chanted "shame, shame" and walked between Zuccotti Park, near Wall St., and Union Square calling for changes to a financial system.

One more notch in the death of Democracy and Constitutional Rights, as the Old Republic becomes Darth's Empire.

UPDATE II: Pepper-Spray Officer has a history: A senior New York police officer accused of pepper-spraying young women on the "Occupy Wall Street" demonstrations is the subject of a pending legal action over his conduct at another protest in the city.

"The Guardian" reports that the officer, named by activists as deputy inspector Anthony Bologna, stands accused of false arrest and civil rights violations in a claim brought by a protester involved in the 2004 demonstrations at the Republican national convention.
One protester, Jeanne Mansfield – who said she was standing so close to the women sprayed in the face that her own eyes burned – claimed other NYPD officers had expressed disbelief at the actions of the senior officer.

In a vivid account of the incident in the Boston Review, Mansfield said: "A white-shirt, now known to be NYPD Lieutenant Anthony Bologna, comes from the left, walks straight up to the three young girls at the front of the crowd, and pepper-sprays them in the face for a few seconds, continuing as they scream 'No! Why are you doing that?!'"

Despite her attempts to turn away, Mansfield suffered burning and temporary blindness in her left eye.

She continued: "In the street I shout for water to rinse my eyes or give to the girls on the ground. But no one responds. One of the blue-shirts, tall and bald, stares in disbelief and says, 'I can't believe he just fuckin' maced her.'"

UPDATE: Statement from Noam Chomsky to the Protesters:

Anyone with eyes open knows that the gangsterism of Wall Street -- financial institutions generally -- has caused severe damage to the people of the United States (and the world). And should also know that it has been doing so increasingly for over 30 years, as their power in the economy has radically increased, and with it their political power. That has set in motion a vicious cycle that has concentrated immense wealth, and with it political power, in a tiny sector of the population, a fraction of 1%, while the rest increasingly become what is sometimes called "a precariat" -- seeking to survive in a precarious existence. They also carry out these ugly activities with almost complete impunity -- not only too big to fail, but also "too big to jail."

The courageous and honorable protests underway in Wall Street should serve to bring this calamity to public attention, and to lead to dedicated efforts to overcome it and set the society on a more healthy course."

Noam Chomsky is Scientist, Linguist and Professor Emeritus at MIT. He is the recipient of Honorary Degrees from 37 institutions around the globe.


Ajlounyinjurylaw said...

Police officers are supposed to be trained in crowd control. As such, the first rule of crowd control is to never act in such a way that the crowd perceives that action to be a threat as this action may cause the crowd to become riot. Clearly, this officers actions crossed that line. I believe that the action of moving the barrier a few feet was designed to create enough tension to justify the use of pepper spray or worse.

Tyler said...

everyone deserves a voice.