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Re-Occupation and Police Raid of Zuccotti Park Set Tone for Radical Spring

Re-Occupation and Police Raid of Zuccotti Park Set Tone for Radical Spring

 

Written by J. A. Myerson, Truthout

The brief re-occupation of Zuccotti Park and its swift re-eviction are both previews of the season to come. With numbers augmented by warm weather, St. Patrickís Dayís festive atmosphere and the Left Forum conference (the hundreds of panels of which took place at nearby Pace University), the protesters who took to Zuccotti Park to celebrate six months of Occupy Wall Street sent out a mass text on Saturday evening, reading “OccupyNYC: Liberty Square is being RE-OCCUPIED! 500+ people and growing! Come on down! Bring blankets & food!”

Occupy Wall Street’s message: prepare for a radical spring. Chants of “a-anti-anti-capitalista” were more frequent and more broadly based than I had ever heard at an Occupy Wall Street event, suggesting that the movement has begun to coalesce around an ideological principle. “Anti-capitalism” may not be the most specific philosophy, but it belies proclamations like Bill Maherís “they donít hate capitalism; they hate whatís been done to it,” whatever that means. The group also engaged in a raucous and sprawling “Simon Says”-like activity that helped acclimatize protesters to forming a fortified human wall for “soft blocks,” indicating a more militant, confrontational (yet still nonviolent) attitude brewing among the occupiers.

They got the chance to test out their newly acquired skills not long after the game concluded. A small group of protesters had put up what police were calling a “structure,” which consisted of a dozen or so unfurled cardboard boxes, draped over a banner hung between two trees. This provided occasion for the New York Police Departmentís own tone-setting action. The NYPDís message: prepare for a violent spring.

It’s quite possible that, had the police let the protesters hang out in the park, the numbers would have dwindled down to a few dozen by 1 a.m., and the park would have been easy to maintain. Instead, the decision was made (although no officer would tell me by whom) to deploy hundreds of police to empty the park.

Detective Rick Lee remarked just before the deployment, “Unfortunately, itís probably going to get pretty ugly in a few minutes.” Either the NYPD was breathtakingly incompetent at de-escalation on Saturday night, or it was impressively competent at escalation.

Captain Edward Winski, who commands the 1st Precinct, announced over a bullhorn, “Parkís closed for cleaning. If you do not leave, you will be arrested for trespassing.” Around 100 protesters opted for the latter, sitting down and linking arms on a patch of earth where flowers bloomed in the occupationís early days and weeks. I watched the police break up the group by punching protesters about the head, repeatedly stomping on shoulders and arms, grabbing throats, dragging protesters by the hair and clawing at their faces. Even when protesters tried to leave, they were subject to rough contact. Officer Chantel (“I donít have a badge number,” he told me) repeatedly pushed one young woman, who declined to be named, up the stairs out of the park, as she shouted again and again, “Iím leaving; you donít have to push me!”

Captain Winski – whose command post should ideally free him up from hands-on duty with protesters – repeatedly shoved me away from the scene. I informed him that I was a journalist and could not see the story from where he was instructing me to stand. He pointed out that I was not wearing proper press credentials. I reminded him that it was his department that issues the credentials. He expressed his apathy with distinct impoliteness, telling me I was “nobody.”

Perhaps the police thought that the violence and arrests would subdue the protesters, in which case, they havenít been paying attention for the last six months. The opposite happened, and the charged-up protesters, deprived once again of the park they occupied on September 17, headed out on a march to Union Square, where they were subject to still more aggressive official backlash.

Even more notorious among occupiers than Captain Winski, Sgt. Iaquinto (badge number: 2253) wore a jacket announcing him as a member of the Technical Assistance Response Unit (TARU), which – theoretically – videotapes protests, among other means of investigative technical support. In Soho, after one especially violent arrest, Iaquinto charged at one protester who was chanting “shame,” and shouted, “You talking to me, motherfucker?”

Later in the march, Iaquinto thrust Ki Walker, 22, of Vermont, against a wall and frisked him down, telling Walker, “Just to let you know, Iím a little crazier than you.” Multiple eyewitnesses confirmed that Iaquinto picked up a small young woman and slammed her down on the concrete without provocation. Previously, on December 17, Iaquinto had distinguished himself by assaulting a Democracy Now! cameraman wearing a press pass.

A man wishing to be identified as “Stan Corazone” testified, “What appeared to be a high-ranking officer said ‘excuse me’ to a marcher – and one second later shoved him into a metal scaffolding pole.” Police chased down a protester in front of New York University dormitory Brittany Hall, slamming him up against the glass door and shattering it (3:50 in this video).

An officer Iíd recently heard remark, “I’ve had enough of this shit. I’ve really had enough. Should have been done September 18,” was captured in this photograph grabbing his firearm while he straddled a grounded protester. Other cops arrested protester Jesse Deen, seemingly for the crime of asking for the badge number of an especially abrasive officer.

A protester who I recognized from his day job as a City Council aide was arrested despite his contention, which I can corroborate, that he had not set foot in the street, but was standing on the sidewalk at the time of arrest. Some protesters threw trash in the street. Others picked it up and returned it to the trashcans, but stopped when police threatened to arrest them.

Protester Craig Judelman, who was in good cheer earlier in the evening, posted a photo of his now-bruised face to Facebook at roughly 5 a.m., with this message:

just got punched in the face like 5 times by NYPD….guess they saw my earlier post…was with the rest of the occupiers after NYPD stormed the park and put up fences, we were backing down broadway, a block away when they hip-checked the people in front of me. as they fell i tried to support those falling so they didnt get trampled adn of course they grabbed me. put me in a headlock adn swung me on the ground, wripped the fiddle off my back and started pulling my hands behind my back-meanwhile i got slugged in the face by a few cops a good 5 or 6 times, got some nice bruises if you can’t see em in the picture… they held em for an hour on the bus, i didn’t even have an arresting officer adn the guy holding me couldn’t tell me what i was being charged with cause they had just dumped me on him while they continued beating little girls up… luckilly they let me go with a disorderly conduct summons, some bad bruises and a sore wrist, and the good folks at jalopy gave me enough whiskey to numb the pain of opening my jaw

As I wrote recently, the outlook for the spring is not placid – “NATO and G8 summits (now separate), May Day, the potential rollout of indictments by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s investigation of the financial sector, a shaky outlook for Greece and the Euro and ominous signs for Bank of America.” At six months old, Occupy Wall Street looks ready to become increasingly radical and disciplined – and the NYPD looks ready to become increasingly heavy handed and repressive.

Copyright, Truthout.org. Reprinted with permission.

 

Related Stories:

OWS Protesters Violently Evicted From Zuccotti Park…Again

OWS Is Not Over, Except The American Spring

Wall Street Whistleblower Tosses Bombshell

 

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Photo from Sunset Parkerpix via flickr

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18 comments

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2:50PM PDT on Mar 17, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

10:00PM PDT on Mar 24, 2012

Why won't people read history? Circular history is fascinating. Particularly the Gilded Era and the Riots of Haymarket Square, the Molly McGuires, the Muckrakers and more. Coming to a city near you.

Teddy Roosevelt Where are you when we need you?

9:14PM PDT on Mar 22, 2012

When they protest in Egypt our country's politicians step up and say how wrong and cruel they are to shut them down. When we protest here they try to hide our protest first. I recall how long it took to break Zuccotti Park into the news. Then barring hiding it and not putting it in the media, they shut us down and abuse our citizens who are only working to making our country a better more equal place.

6:07PM PDT on Mar 20, 2012

Remember the song, "The day the music died"? Seems like freedom of expression is dying in this country. Our leaders, YES, YOU OBAMA, complain about protestors getting mistreated inother countries, but in the goood ole USA who's watching. I was a mature adult when Vietnam started. I remember cops being called pigs. I said that 's not right. Don't do that. Well, they may not have been pigs in those days, but today! I believe that some of the most sadistic dropouts are joining the force just so they can act out. God help us one and all.

5:32PM PDT on Mar 20, 2012

The stock value of pepper spray and rubber bullet manufacturers must be starting to soar right about now.

2:14PM PDT on Mar 20, 2012

So, This is how Liberty ends? Greed and Hate? Deaf Government(Unless you are Rich)? I guess It's TIME to go to NYC and get arrested. At least I will be with REAL AMERICANS! #OCCUPY

1:13PM PDT on Mar 20, 2012

Peace and tranquility are what [we hold] most dear,
so [we do] not obtain weapons;
But when their use is unavoidable,
[we employ] them with fortitude and zeal.

12:37PM PDT on Mar 20, 2012

THANK YOU J.A. MYERSON!!! Thank you for putting yourself on the line for ALL of US!!

11:59AM PDT on Mar 20, 2012

OWS reflects a deep seated problem with our American love affair with the supposedly free market and capitalism. The free market is not free. It drives a capitalistic greed that is still creating truly massive environmental damage around the world. It has been strongly implicated in the increasing devastation of Climate Change around the world. This in turn is ruining crops and our food supply. It has polluted our drinking water, pollution that is the cause of up to 80% of life threatening disease on a global scale. Fracking promises to expand that pollution dramatically. Dead zones are expanding in the world's oceans, zones caused by chemical runoff into our lakes and rivers.

The ONLY freedom of our free market economy is the freedom of greedy men to do what they want with OUR environment, to the destruction of our lives, families and communities. IT IS TIME FOR CHANGE!!! Capitalism has become a death sentence upon humanity, a form of economic driven mass suicide.

11:37AM PDT on Mar 20, 2012

Arab Spring in America! Our capitalist corporate dictators are fighting back.

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Sounds like Dodger is an ecologically-aware cat. People can take a lesson here: Use public transportation…

Yet one more thing we're behind on. Of course corporations don't care since they just want bodies present…

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