crimes and misdemeanors

Confirmed: Police Were Not Very Nice to Occupy Wall Street Protesters

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 13: Occupy Wall Street protestors are arrested by New York City police officers during a demonstration across the street from the New York Stock Exchange on April 13, 2012 in New York City. In preparation for massive May Day demonstrations, Occupy Wall Street protestors continue to hold weekly
Photo: Justin Sullivan/2012 Getty Images

A new report by the Protest and Assembly Rights Project, which includes civil liberties experts from law clinics at NYU, Fordham, Harvard, and Stanford, has determined what anyone paying attention already knows: The NYPD got pretty rough with some protesters during Occupy Wall Street. But the group’s findings, compiled in Suppressing Protest: Human Rights Violations in the U.S. Response to Occupy Wall Street, detail many incidents beyond the brutal few that got the most media play, counting 130 examples of extreme force in all, on top of “a complex mapping of protest suppression.”

Most of the misconduct cited in the report comes from video footage, reputable journalists, legal observers, and firsthand accounts from authors of the study. Here’s one such anecdote, but there are plenty to choose from:

On May 30, during a student march, a member of the Research Team witnessed a particularly violent arrest. A protester was observed lying on the ground, with a number of officers standing near. The protester stated that his shoulder had just been dislocated; the officers stated that they had called an ambulance, and were not going to handcuff the protester because of his injury. However, moments later, a second group of officers rushed in and aggressively handcuffed the protester. He screamed out in pain repeatedly and told the officers about his injury, asking them to be gentle. The officers responded by stating the he was “a liar,” and they repeatedly intentionally pushed and pulled his injured shoulder. When EMTs did subsequently arrive, they inspected his shoulder, immediately removed the handcuffs, and put him in an ambulance for treatment. The individual’s lawyer later stated that the protester in fact had suffered a broken clavicle, an extremely painful and serious injury.

There’s also a section on weapons use, including batons, scooters, and pepper spray, which was used in seven separate cases, according to the report.

The authors conclude that the department could, perhaps, use an inspector general (as has been suggested repeatedly) and maybe even a city review of the police tactics used throughout the protests. If not, the authors said the Department of Justice might be interested in their findings. But as is, there’s been “near-complete impunity for alleged abuses.”

Confirmed: Police Weren’t Nice to OWS Protesters