By: Maria Phillips
Within the last two months, Occupy Wall Street demonstrations have caused an increase of pepper spray and other brutality by police to control crowds, and many individuals are being hospitalized from the force. Most of these attacks seem to be out of loss of control from the police force and frustration.
On November 17th, an 84 year old Seattle woman, Dorli Rainey, was pepper sprayed by police for her participation in an Occupy movement. I can’t see an 84 year old woman acting out to the extent police needed to stop her by drowning her in pepper spray. It seems to be a recurring pattern; police are attacking all, just for participating.
On November 18th, at UC Davis, a university in California, students were peacefully demonstrating, sitting on the ground at their school. Police came and pepper sprayed the students at point-blank range. One female student was hospitalized for chemical burns. Last time I checked, universities encourage students to get involved. UC Davis is an activist school. The fact that they were sitting on the ground next to one another, and this cop came by in a straight line and just continually back and forth sprayed these students is crazy! It makes me feel unsafe in my own school. I don’t participate in much of anything when it concerns school, but considering these police are targeting peaceful demonstrations, and people who are in the area are getting sprayed because they’re just targeting masses; I don’t feel safe. Lets not forget these students pay to be on the UC Campus.
Later that night in Oakland, Kayvan Sabehgi, an Iraq War Veteran, was talking to a crowd of riot police when he was chased to the sidewalk to get out of their way. They continued to attack the veteran and sent him to the hospital with a ruptured spleen. People were watching, recording, telling the officer to stop. It was clear the attack was out of anger. Not any sort of protection for the citizens of Oakland.
On the east coast, NYPD has been under investigation. Despite the investigation, they were taped refusing to give a badge number to peaceful protesters being arrested, a direct defiance of NYPD’s own rules. I bet nothing will be done about that. NYPD has also been filmed entrapping protestors in a “kettle” and then spraying them with pepper spray with no escape. These protestors were on the sidewalk, once again, what if I was walking through? I’m the kind of person that would be completely oblivious to a net being circled around me, and then I’m shot in the face with pepper spray. It has been told NYPD has not been trained on how to deal with verbal attacks. They’re acting out of anger and frustration, not protection for the community.
Most of the actions by police seem to be personal. The officer who chased the veteran was alone in his attack. There was a crowd of officers, and he alone decided to chase and beat the veteran.
The attacks have been broad and non-stop. Police across the country are indiscriminate and attacking crowds, when only one or none may be acting violent. Now, the attacks are being recorded and giving protestors more reason to continue to Occupy.
The first amendment is very unclear. Occupy protestors have continually occupied the areas. They are pitching tents and never leaving. Some find the protests to be a place for homeless people to camp and others believe the first amendment couldn’t predict protests to such extent. In any case, they have a right to be there…some right at least. They also have the right to be safe from the people who are there to protect the community, the police. If a protester is being dangerous, using a weapon or lashing out, then they should be arrested. Words should not get a protestor attacked by an officer. With all the videos of these attacks floating free for all to see, this kind of behavior from police should not be accepted.