Nel's New Day

November 19, 2011

Police Fight the Occupy Movement

What are the police doing about the Occupy Movement? A Google search shows 131,000,000 hits on police abuse in relation to the Occupiers, most of them describing police officers using pepper spray and nightsticks. For example, the image of an 84-year-old woman has received a huge number of hits. Anyone following the Occupy Movement in the news also remembers the abuse of the Oakland police resulting in an Iraq veteran losing his ability to speak because of  police actions. When the police don’t brutalize the protesters, they intimidate them.

Kicked out of  Zucotti Park, some demonstrators took refuge in churches and other shelters. As several of them slept at a United Methodist church on the Upper West Side, a plainclothes detective walked through the sanctuary, apparently counting heads. At the same time, his partner was asking questions at a homeless shelter in the church’s basement. “It is disconcerting that they would actually enter the sanctuary,” said the Rev. James Karpen, known as Reverend K, senior pastor of the United Methodist Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew, on West 86th Street. “Here we had offered hospitality and safety, which is our business as a church; it just felt invasive.”

Another police action is to ticket and threaten citizens for minor offences. An example is the $60 ticket for honking a horn in Denver (CO). After Daniel Garcia supported the protesters by honking his horn two or three times (something I do occasionally in my small Northwest town), he was pulled over by the police. According to the officer, there’s a city ordinance against honking in a non-emergency situation. The police officer actually searched the car, including the trunk. After ticketing Garcia, the officer said, “If I see you over here again, we’ll pull you over and impound your car for disturbing the peace.”

According to Garcia, his court date is December 23 (Happy Holidays!), and he plans to plead not guilty. The day after he received his ticket he watched another officer ticket someone who stopped to pick up a protester at the park. Other Denver residents reported being ticketed for stopping to drop off supplies for the protesters.

In Portland (OR) Police Chief Mike Reese told the media that the Occupy Movement was keeping them from important business—like investigating a rape. In fact, the 9-1-1 call for the case came during the day rather than during large-scale Portland police deployments and involved a sexual assault that had happened two days earlier. The police had already indicated that they didn’t consider that call a top priority emergency call.

The Police Executive Research Forum, an international non-governmental organization with ties to law enforcement and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has been coordinating conference calls with major metropolitan mayors and police chiefs to advise them on policing matters and discuss response to the Occupy movement. On November 17, PERF Executive Director Chuck Wexler acknowledged PERF’s coordination of a series of conference-call strategy sessions with big-city police chiefs. These calls were distinct from the widely reported national conference calls of major metropolitan mayors.

PERF has issued a guide against the Occupy Movement that encourages the use of undercover officers and snatch squads to “grab the bad guys and remove them from the crowd” and urges local law enforcement to use social media to map the Occupy movement. An earlier guide advocates the use of embedded media to control police messages, the use of undercover cops to infiltrate protest groups, the use and pitfalls of preemptive mass arrest, an examination of the use of less-than-lethal crowd control weapons, and general discussion weighing the use of force in crowd control.

TV watchers cheer when the protesters in the Middle East emerge victorious against tyrants but criticize anyone who wants equality in theUnited States. They encourage anti-Obama protesters to carry weapons but ridicule protesters who refuse to leave a site because they believe in equality.

According to writer Joshua Holland, probably 97 percent of police act professionally toward protesters.  One of the 97 percent is  former Philadelphia police captain Ray Lewis who was arrested during the Occupy Wall Street protests.  “They complained about the park being dirty,” he said. “Here they are worrying about dirty parks when people are starving to death, where people are freezing, where people are sleeping in subways and they’re concerned about a dirty park. That’s obnoxious, it’s arrogant, it’s ignorant, it’s disgusting.”

The other 3 percent are armed and dangerous and know that they’re unlikely to be held accountable. It’s time to do something about the 3 percent who are working for the top 1 percent.

 

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