No 288 Posted by fw, September 28, 2011
They may be small in number but they’re huge in heart and determination. The gutsy “Occupy Wall Street” gang have certainly won my respect and admiration, and doubtless that of ordinary people around the world. In the process, they have succeeded in making the NYPD bullies look bad – very bad. The cops brutish strong-arm tactics have not cowed the crowd; rather they have had the opposite effect, strengthening protesters’ resolve. Moreover, it has attracted the attention of the corporate mainstream media, probably winning more converts and moral supporters to the cause. Will we see increased pressure from authorities to shut down the encampment and end the embarrassing chaos on the streets, tarnishing New York’s image?
Here’s a 3:55-minute video of the street skirmishes provided by Free Speech Radio News, and posted on The Real News Network. Jaisal Noor narrates the clip, titled “80 people arrested at “Occupy Wall Street”. Although there are dozens of Wall Street video clips to choose from, this one clarifies, for the first time perhaps, the demonstrators’ basic demands. My transcript follows.
There was a chaotic scene in lower Manhattan Saturday as police arrested about 80 protesters taking part in a rally and march. The demonstration was part of the protest encampment in New York’s financial district known as “Occupy Wall Street” that started on September 17.
Among their list of demands, protesters are calling for an end to corporate influence over politics, an end to imperialist American foreign policy, and a more accountable political system. They say they represent the majority of Americans whose interests are not being served by the country’s economic and political system.
The New York Police Department’s handling of their arrests has come under fire as a number of videos emerge showing officers using heavy-handed tactics. Police used large orange nets to trap protesters who were then pepper-sprayed.
Among them was 25-year old Chelsea Elliot who described the incident minutes after it happened:
“And then I turned around and I see this girl having her faced slammed on the sidewalk. Blood. And I screamed. And I screamed ‘Why are they doing this?’ And then I looked at the cop and then I looked back and there’s a cop with mace and he squirts like, boom, all of us in the face including some of it got on the cop that I was talking to and I just fell to the ground and started sobbing.”
Protesters captured some of the attacks on video including the arrests of 21-year old Bronx resident, Hero Vincent. Vincent, who was released Sunday, said police attacked him when he tried to calm the crowd and organize people to leave:
“That’s the way the police just charged at me with his fist and you know swinging at me and another policeman pushed me and I’m backing up. And as I’m backing up I hit the barricade and then I look at them and they come at me. I go over and four policemen just started beating on me, yelling at me ‘Stop resisting arrest!’ while I’m just laying there. I’m not fighting back. They kicked me in my stomach, knocked the breath out of me, hit me with their batons. They put their knees into my face – not on my head – into my face into the ground and just laughing.”
While other protesters were charged with blocking traffic and resisting arrest, Vincent faces the more serious charge of assaulting a police officer. But he says he’s confident that the numerous videos of the incident will exonerate him. And he’s determined to continue the fight against this country’s economic policies:
“If there’s anything called the epitome of a struggle, me and my family lived it. We were foreclosed on. My father had trouble finding a job, still hasn’t found one. I had trouble finding a job, still haven’t found one. My sister’s in college, her tuition’s doubling. They’re trying to fight for financial aid. We struggle with food. I’ve even slept on the bench a few nights before this occasion you know.”
Despite the latest round of arrests the protest encampment now enters its tenth day at the privately owned Zuccotti Park, which the protesters are calling “Liberty Plaza.” Demonstrators use this space for nightly meetings of the popular committee known as the “General Assembly.”
After a week of deliberations, participants have now agreed on a number of basic demands including an end to policies that result in a concentration of wealth and unlimited influence of money in politics, and the creation of a participatory economic and political system that opposes discrimination and racism and promotes environmental justice.
Twenty-three-year-old community organizer Michael Strom says he hopes these demands can be a catalyst for a movement that can challenge corporate domination:
“So we put together these demands to be accessible and encompass all of these different forms of suffering and really bring people together so that we can begin to articulate exactly what strategies and processes we’ll use to struggle for these demands.”
Protesters vowed to continue the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations until these demands are met.
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