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I have something to say about this

This video has been making the rounds.  It’s of OWS protestors in California resisting non-violently and then getting pepper sprayed:

On November 17, I walked back to Zucotti Park from the corner of Pine and Nassau.  I wanted to write a blog post.  I asked a cop at the barrier if I could go in and sit down.  He nodded so I went in and sat on a stone bench lining the perimeter of the park.  By the way, the park suffered no permanent damage from the occupation.  It’s a beautiful granite rectangle filled with locust trees that were at peak golden color.  The crysanthemums from a month ago are gone but they were likely to be replaced for the holiday season.  It smells just like Zuccotti park *always* smelled- like food from the mixture of grease wagons at the perimeter of the park.  It’s very kebab scented.  Must have driven the vegans to distraction.

Protestors headed back to Zuccotti Park from Pine and Nassau on N17. These are the typical Dirty Fucking Hippies that everyone wants to kick the shit out of.

Anyway, I sat there and composed a brief post.  Just as I was finishing, a big group of noisy protestors arrived carrying flags.  They were mic checking and celebrating.  I talked to an American professor who was teaching in Budapest.  We laughed about getting hit with a golden shower- of leaves- just before she left the park to find a bathroom.  I was thinking the same thing when  I saw a guy handing out purple sashes and asked him what they were for.  He told me that purple was what you get when you mix all of the colors of the American flag, which made the wearer “ultraAmerican”.  So, I took one.  Just as I was tying it around my hair, someone to my right walked briskly into the park and said that he had heard from the lawyers and the police scanner that the park was going to be kettled.  I really didn’t want to get arrested on a full bladder so I headed for the break in the barrier where I had come in.  As I approached it, the cops closed it up.  I looked to the other side of the park and they had closed that too.  Then another occupier who seemed to have a bit more authority ran over to a group of us and said, “Remain calm, remember we are non violent.  We are peaceful.  We do not resist.  Don’t do anything stupid that will make them come after you.”

Stupid?  For being in a park?  All I was doing was blogging, talking and tying a ribbon in my hair.  This is what I get for just being there?  I called Katiebird, because that’s what I find myself doing when I’m in trouble.  She said she could see what was happening on TV.  Just after I hung up, there was a running scuffle behind me and a group of about five people were being chased through the park.  They threw me off balance as I darted behind a tree.  The whole thing happened so quickly that I didn’t realize I’d pulled a muscle in my right shoulder.  I stood there in pain for a few seconds and noticed that the police on the north side of the park had moved in a line towards the west side, leaving the barrier unattended for a moment.  I dashed out of the park between a break in the barrier.  A few seconds later, the police lined up again and pushed the barrier toward the middle of the park, trapping everyone else in.    I spent the next half hour in Mickey D’s in line to use the bathroom and trying to find Katiebird’s sister in case one of us was arrested.

About 20 minutes later, Bev and I walked around the park perimeter from the outside.  The police presence was ridiculous.  It was over the top.  When I saw the battalions (multiple) lining up in formation outside the park, I knew something bad was about to happen.  There was no reason to have that many cops for the protestors in the park.  Yeah, they can occasionally be loud and rowdy.  But there is nothing about them that can be remotely considered dangerous.  They are armed only with their voices and their bodies.  Jeez, they even meditate before an action so they keep their heads.

Police batallions lining up at Zuccotti park just before the crackdown

And what about the rest of us?  Can we just occupy a space, talk to people, blog, without a threat to our bodies or pepperspray to the eyes?  I was just standing in the park and nearly got caught in a trap.  If a cop can’t see that a group of people sitting on the ground aren’t posing a threat to him, are any of us safe?

They are regular, normal looking, average Americans.  They human beings with dignity.  They are not dirty or smelly.  They don’t have lice.  And the freaky looking ones who were hanging out before the eviction are gone. They are well spoken and cheerful and determined.  Why am I saying “they”?   I mean “WE”.

Next time, I’m peeing before I enter the park and waiting it out from the inside.

More later…

19 Responses

  1. Why was the park being rousted in the daylight? I thought that “we” were allowed back into the park – just not with sleeping stuff and after the new “curfew”. It doesn’t sound like anyone was doing anything but hanging around.

    I watched that pepper spray video and I just simply don’t get it. When did pepper spray become the weapon of choice against American citizens doing nothing to harm anyone?

    I used to have tremendous respect for our police forces. I still hold out hope for the officers – but I really have an entirely different – and frightened – perspective of their “leaders” – and our leaders. They are seriously out to destroy someone. I hope that I am wrong.

    • Honestly, I have no fricking idea why they decided to kettle the park. My best guess is that they were hoping to round up some “leaders” and get the day of action to fizzle out. But if that was their intent then they have learned nothing about how this movement operates. I won’t go into details but if you’re quick on the uptake, you figure it out once you get there.
      The cops are dealing with some very clever individuals and I doubt they’re ever going to get all the leaders. But I encourage them to keep trying.

  2. Here’s what it was like on the bridge. I was probably one of those people whooping it up in the background. As you can tell, the whole city was in on it by this time.

  3. This is interesting….

    Edited on Sat Nov-19-11 05:14 AM by Fire Walk With Me
    http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-9th-circuit/1332957.html

    HEADWATERS FOREST DEFENSE v. COUNTY OF HUMBOLDT

    Nine environmental activists and an environmental group brought this action, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the County of Humboldt, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department, Eureka City and its police department, and several individual officers, alleging that the officers’ use of pepper spray on the activists’ eyes and faces during three peaceful protests constituted an excessive use of force in violation of their Fourth Amendment rights.   We previously issued an opinion, which is reported at 240 F.3d 1185 (9th Cir.2001), in which we reversed the district court’s decision to grant summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds to Humboldt County Sheriff Dennis Lewis (“Lewis”) and Chief Deputy Sheriff Gary Philip (“Philip”), the defendants who initially authorized the use of the pepper spray on the nonviolent protestors. We also reversed the district court’s decision to enter judgment in favor of Humboldt County, the City of Eureka, and their respective police departments following trial and a hung jury.

    Viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the protestors, we conclude that Philip and Lewis are not entitled to qualified immunity because the use of pepper spray on the protestors’ eyes and faces was plainly in excess of the force necessary under the circumstances, and no reasonable officer could have concluded otherwise.

    • {{snort!}} you should go post that over at the crawdad hole

      • Hopefully that opinion and context and all facts around it would be made known to every OWS protester who thinks they may have been treated illegaly by one or more police officers. Hopefully there is (or will be) a legal countermeasure effort ready to spend the years it will take to pursue these cases.

      • Well, I did and they are “watching”. Ha! Strangely, they seem to think that my post was against the Clown’s headline of “This is excessive”. I guess because I AM AN OWS ADMIRER – BIG TIME – that’s bad?

        P.S. Mary: I’m an attorney and wish I was licensed in CA instead of NY and CT. I’d volunteer my time in this case!!

        ————————————–
        Mary, on November 19, 2011 at 1:22 pm said:

        This is Marsha, folks, friend of Snooki. OWS admirer.
        Snooki practically dared her to post this on Crawdad’s blog.
        You’ve been forewarned.
        Reply

        myiq2xu, on November 19, 2011 at 1:45 pm said:
        {{Yawn}}
        I already said it was excessive force before Snooki posted anything.

        Karma, on November 19, 2011 at 2:23 pm said:
        Aww…isn’t that cute? She thinks a lawyer from CA wouldn’t be aware of that case. It was a big deal out here.
        Is Marsha aware they pried open their eyes and placed the pepper spray directly?

        catarina, on November 19, 2011 at 2:46 pm said:
        Snooki?

        catarina, on November 19, 2011 at 2:47 pm said:

        Strange people over in The Hole.

      • “you should go post that over at the crawdad hole.”

        “Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and it annoys the pig.” 😈

  4. The Cossacks work for the Czar. At what point do the Purple Ultramericans decide to re-order their economic behavior personally and collectively to degrade and attrit the pillars of the Czar’s economic power and dominion?

  5. I am so glad you and Bev found each other (at least for a while) It was a huge relief to me that you each had a buddy.

    Thanks to both of you – Riverdaughter and sister Bev – for representing me there!!

  6. I suppose a “certain clown and his flea baggin posse” would say you deserved to have had your skull caved in for sitting in a park in broad daylight!

    Seems they do love them some police brutality porn! {{{snark}}}

  7. RD…I don’t often comment..especially lately, and under this name, but when i wanted to know someone who was going to be there, and would give me information and moment to moment blogging…I came here to you. I was so glad to have you there and tell it like it was, was so helpful. I’ve loved your blog and loved your writing along with other bloggers here, that I felt we were in this again together!! I so admire you and I envy your ability with the right words at the right time…so please as long as you’re still blogging I’m still reading!!

  8. That moment when you called and I was watching the action on CNN — they had REALLY good coverage in that morning (we should probably figure out who the morning producers are) … I could see the barricades coming down and being moved … while you were telling me about it! — I keep saying amazing and incredible, but it was!

    Here I was in Kansas somehow participating and blogging about #N17!!

    And then you and Bev were so close to each other … how weird that she got to meet you before I did!!

  9. Riverdaughter — that video! It’s astonishing…. The pepper spray … the walk of shame … the mic check …. the power of words …. That video tells an amazing story

    • Did you notice the cops drawing in and backing away – almost like they were slinking off into the night. Unbelievable.

      Of course, they will probably say “we were scared of the threats around us.”. Nuts!

      • (nodding) I started to write a post called “Pepper Spray, a Walk of Shame and the Power of the Mic Check” before I realized that RD had already posted the video.

        The police started to respond with (it seemed) guns … when someone called for a Mic Check and peace.

        I’m still shaken.

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