Moral Low Ground


Video: N.Y.P.D. Cops Brutalize, Arrest Peaceful ‘Occupy Wall Street’ Protesters

The peaceful Occupy Wall Street protesters who’ve been camped out in Zuccotti Park (renamed Liberty Plaza) in Lower Manhattan for the last eleven days aren’t criminals. In fact, they’re there to protest against criminality, the criminality of the Wall Street banksters who looted billions upon billions of dollars and crashed the global economy, wiping out the life savings of countless millions of people and plunging untold numbers of others into poverty.

For these brazen crimes of stunning world-wide scope and jaw-dropping magnitude, not one single Wall Street executive has faced a day behind bars. There were, however, scores of arrests– 80 on Saturday alone— of peaceful demonstrators who pleaded with N.Y.P.D. officers to join them, for, as protest organizer Kelly Heresy told Keith Olbermann yesterday, rank-and-file cops are part of the “99%” that the Occupy Wall Street protesters are standing up on behalf of. Their jobs, their pensions could very easily come under attack one day.

The looks on some of the officers’ faces seemed to convey a sympathy and understanding of the reality that they shared more in common with the demonstrators than they did with the banksters they must know they’re protecting but ultimately, the gatekeepers did their job and protected power. Things got ugly– downright brutal– when some officers resorted to violence to punish the protesters. Female demonstrators were netted and pepper-sprayed without any provocation. Others were dragged across streets. Yet others were violently arrested even when they offered no resistance.

In this horrible video, a group of young women, one of them deaf, has been rounded up and immobilized by net-wielding officers. Then, N.Y.P.D. Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna, unaware that he is being filmed, casually approaches and unloads a canister of pepper spray directly into the womens’ faces before calmly walking away. Even other officers couldn’t believe what they just saw. Jeanne Mansfield, one of the women who was pepper sprayed, wrote on Boston Review“One of the blue-shirts, tall and bald, stares in disbelief and says, ‘I can’t believe he just fuckin’ maced her.’ And it becomes clear that the white-shirts are a different species.”

The same video, in slow motion:

It turns out that Bologna has a history of mistreating peaceful protesters; according to the Atlantic, he has had several lawsuits filed against him for his role in the arrests of demonstrators during the 2004 Republican National Convention. Arrested protesters were held in a makeshift facility in which the ground was covered in toxic grit.

Predictably, the mainstream media has largely ignored the groundswell of protest– not just in Lower Manhattan, but across the nation— that Occupy Wall Street represents. Of course it would; after all, the mainstream media is dominated by a handful of mega-corporations that have zero interest in amplifying a message that is inimical to the very system in which it thrives. There was one notable exception: MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell yesterday condemned the “unprovoked police brutality” against protesters and eyewitnesses– especially those with cameras– that has taken place.

“The reason that man is being assaulted by the police is because of what he has in his hand,” O’Donnell says as a clip rolls of a man armed only with a camera being taken down by cops. “He’s holding a professional grade video camera. Since the Rodney King beating was caught on an amateur video camera, American police officers have known video cameras are their worst enemy. They will do anything they can to stop you from legally videotaping how they handle their responsibility to serve and protect you.” O’Donnell added: “Everything those cops did this weekend to those protesters they’ve done to someone else when no video camera was rolling.”

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