Last Saturday, thousands of Occupy Wall Street supporters took to the streets of New York City to remind the country that while winter may have slowed them down, the American Spring will commence as planned.
Unfortunately, officers of the New York Police Department were also on hand, eager to remind protesters that their unlawful arrests and denial of Constitutional Rights would also continue unabated.
Around 11:30pm, Saturday March 17th, over one hundred NYPD officers stormed into Liberty Square and began to brutally arrest over 90 people peacefully using the park. This resulted in five hospitalizations, several broken bones, and one woman who was denied access to emergency medical care after suffering a seizure.
Yesterday, members of the New York City Council decried the NYPD’s behavior during the March 17th re-eviction of Liberty Square. Today, Occupy Wall Street protesters joined with members of other American communities routinely targeted by police, and called for the resignation of NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly for authorizing brutality and extreme abuse of police power.
“Hardly a day goes by without another story of NYPD abuse hitting the news and undermining the ability of the community to trust the police department,” said New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman, in a statement on Monday. “We know the NYPD is watching us, but who is watching the NYPD? New York City is in desperate need of an Inspector General to bring strong, meaningful NYPD oversight, as well as a strong ban on religious and racial profiling. It’s time for the City Council to quickly act and pass these important reforms.”
In the wake of Saturday’s abuse of power and damage to cherished Constitutional rights, Occupy Wall Street members demand the following:
- The immediate dismissal/resignation of Police Commissioner Kelley
- Drop all charges from Occupy related arrests
- Respect the long-established right to use and freely access Liberty Square 24/7
Excerpt from a statement on the OWS website:
The NYPD has a long history of abuse and repression. Just since January they have practiced: a campaign of surveillance, entrapment, and violence against the New York Muslim and Muslim-American communities; a campaign of terror against communities of color, most recently the brutal beating of Jatiek Reed and the senseless murder of Rahmarley Graham in the Bronx; sustained the criminal and dehumanizing tactic of “stop and frisk” in a campaign of racial profiling that serves no law enforcement purpose; and systematically oppressed protestors peaceably assembling in public spaces.
These acts of violence and trampling of our civil rights illustrate the very nature of oppression by the banks, by our government and by Bloomberg’s “private army.” The aggressive and brutal suppression of activists and Occupy Wall Street is a clear indictment of the true purpose of the NYPD–to protect money and power, the 1%.
OWS and community allies are organizing a “Let Freedom Spring” march, in response to the NYPD attacks, on Saturday, March 24, starting at 12pm in Liberty Square (formerly Zuccotti Park) and ending at Union Square.
Image via Thinkstock