Police accused of being heavy-handed as fists fly in the battle of Wall Street
November 18, 2011
At least 177 people were arrested as Occupy demonstrators and police in riot gear clashed in Lower Manhattan yesterday on a “day of action” aimed at closing down Wall Street.
They were not successful — and New York Stock Exchange’s opening bell rang as usual at 9.30am — but hundreds of activists protesting against wealth inequality brought much of the rest of the area to a standstill. Five people were charged with assault and seven police officers were injured.
Tim Teeman on the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations
The Times of London audio stream, October 14, 2011
Among those held was a retired police captain from Philadelphia who knelt in full dress uniform before his former colleagues and refused to move.
Organisers described the day as “breakfast, lunch and dinner”. “Breakfast” was aimed at disrupting America’s financial hub; “lunch” was taking to the subways to spread the message; while “dinner”, was a planned rally in Foley Square at 5pm, leading to an evening march on Brooklyn Bridge.
The bridge was the scene of a police crackdown against protesters in Octo- ber that led to a worldwide movement.
Police reinforced barriers set up to stop the protesters, who chanted “All day, all week, occupy Wall Street”.
Some protesters sat in the street and resisted peacefully but as crowds swelled there were complaints that the police were getting heavy-handed and punches were thrown.
“We ended up getting shoved into windows,” Rachel, an 18-year-old from Brooklyn, told The Times. “We were linked together, singing and dancing, then people started getting thrown on the floor and arrested. It was terrible, the police were pushing people up against walls with their clubs.”
Jacqueline Le Duc, a 22-year-old secretary from Long Island, said: “The cops chased me down the sidewalk with a baton for nothing, I’m not an unemployed hippy anarchist. I’m not interested in getting arrested or beaten up. There need not be any shoving or unnecessary over-reaction.”
Some protesters sought to reach out to the police. “NYPD officer earns $56,000 a year, CEO of Goldman Sachs earns $56,000 a day” read one placard. There were chants of “Join us!” as well as the resounding “We are the 99 per cent”, highlighting that wealth is concentrated among 1 per cent of the US population.
At the junction of Nassau and Pine Streets, near the Stock Exchange, access was allowed to certain streets with a valid work or student identity card. Protesters shouted: “Come join us, 1 per cent” at the workers passing between police lines. “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out,” others chanted.
Scuffles broke out when about 1,000 protesters tried to return to Zuccotti Park chanting, “Our park, our streets” and attempted to remove barriers around the site. The protest camp there was dismantled in a night raid earlier this week and it is now off-limits.
One demonstrator was led away with blood streaming down his face, and a police officer was treated after reportedly being stabbed in the hand with glass in clashes around Zuccotti Park.
Rachel Monroe, 29 from Baltimore, said that the closure of the park had inspired her to come to New York to join the demonstration. “I just hope there’s a sense of unity among many different kinds of people and the power of that contin- ues to spark things,” she said.
Other demonstrations took place in cities including Los Angeles and Dallas. Last night the Mayor of Seattle,Mike McGinn apologised for an incident in which pepper-spray was used against an 84-year- old woman, a local activist called Dorli Rainey, by police breaking up a rally.