Moral Low Ground

Civil Liberties

73 Arrested at NY ‘Occupy Wall Street’ Protest; Cecily McMillan Hospitalized after Suffering Seizure in Handcuffs

Scores of people were arrested amid widespread reports of police brutality in and around Lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park on Saturday as protesters marked six months of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Democracy Now! reports that 73 people were arrested Saturday night after ignoring a call to vacate the park, which protesters renamed Liberty Plaza in the early stages of the Occupy movement. There were many reports of excessive use of force by NYPD officers, including one young woman who was left writhing in seizures while handcuffed and a young man whose head was smashed into a glass door.

Some of the protesters wanted to reoccupy the park, which was violently cleared by NYPD officers last November. They brought sleeping bags, a few tents and at least one tarp, but police quickly moved in to stop anyone from camping there. At around 11:30 p.m., a representative from park owner Brookfield Properties issued an order for protesters to leave the park. Many chose to stand their ground, and police soon moved in.

Cecily McMillan (photo: Facebook)

Many people locked arms and legs, but officers broke them apart while hitting them and dragging them across the ground. There were multiple reports of women being pulled by their hair.

One young woman, identified as Cecily McMillan, suffered a seizure while handcuffed on the ground. It took at least 20 minutes for an ambulance to arrive; hundreds of police officers (but no paramedics) stood by while McMillan laid convulsing in agony without proper head support. Witnesses told Democracy Now! her head was bouncing off the concrete. Paramedics say she could have died.

McMillan was taken first to the hospital for treatment and then transferred to police custody, where she remains. Attorneys from the National Lawyers Guild told Democracy Now! that they haven’t been able to speak with McMillan.

The New York Observer reports the 23-year-old  was arrested for assaulting a police officer.

Another case of alleged police brutality involves an unnamed male medic who was slammed into a glass door by an NYPD officer. Reporter Ryan Devereaux of The Guardian told Democracy Now! that he witnessed the incident.

“He was directly in front of me at the moment that he was grabbed, and he was thrown into a glass door,” said Devereaux. “Some people said that his head hit the door… it was a massive crack left in this glass door. People were shocked at the force that was used. The young man, as he was being pulled away by police officers, looked me in the eye and said that he had been punched in the face. I asked photographers there on the scene. They said he had been punched in the face multiple times.”

“And this was something that, you know, repeated people—repeatedly I heard accounts of people who said that they had been hit in the face. I heard accounts of protesters saying that they were directly verbally threatened by police officers. I saw a high level of intimidation from a number of police officers towards protesters.”

Here is video of Cecily McMillan lying cuffed on the ground, suffering a seizure in front of NYPD officers who initially do little to help her.

Police Arrest 73 in Occupy Wall Street Crackdown As Protesters Mark Six Months of Uprising from Democracy Now! on Vimeo.

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