Did the NYPD Lead Protesters Onto the Bridge?

shift the blame - C&L

Hundreds of participants in an “Occupy Wall St” march over the Brooklyn Bridge appear to have been lead off the pedestrian walkway and onto the roadway by NYPD, and then arrested by the NYPD.

The video appears to be genuine.  During a protest – especially during a march – protesters by and large obey the directions of police officers regarding where they are allowed to walk.  If the NYPD did in fact lure participants onto the bridge only to turn around and arrest them by the hundreds it would raise several important questions:

  1. Can protesters trust the NYPD in the future when they are told where and where not to walk?
  2. If protesters can no longer trust the NYPD to direct them, what implications would that have for managing large protests within the city?
  3. Was this police action pre-meditated, and if so, what was the goal?

The Occupy Wall St movement has already been hit hard with police brutality and a mix of mockery and inattention from the press.  The message this sends the protesters is loud and clear:

We will ignore you.  We will laugh at you.  We will hurt you.  We will arrest you without cause.

 

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Selective and Brutal Enforcement

Some thoughts about my last post…  I’ve been on subways where NYPD officers ignore people breaking the law in a number of ways.  They’ve done nothing.  Which leads to a situation of selective, yet brutal, enforcement of laws.

What does that do to citizens, knowing that the police might beat you and arrest you for something you’ve previously seen an officer walk by like it was no big deal?

NYPD Police Brutalize Musician, Threaten Crowd

NYPD, as part of a recent crackdown against musicians, arrested a man playing music illegally in a park in Chinatown.  The man, forced face down on the pavement with officers holding him down, displayed a bloodied face.  As of this time it appears he did not resist.  The crowd did voice their opposition quite loudly.  They were rewarded with threats of being maced and threatening movements made by one of the officers.

The video on youtube has been flagged inappropriate, making it harder for people to see, and artificially driving down its view count.

Gov Chris Christie’s Real Impact

People like Chris Wallace damage whatever credibility they have left when they shill for the likes of Chris Christie:

He loves bullying state and union workers around during town halls while canceling a major tunnel project that would have meant many jobs for NJ. The Teachers Union is in line this time for his authoritarian act. He loved to tell this teacher that if she didn’t like his merit pay idea it she could stop teaching. And the Tea Party loves him because of this.Already the merit pay scheme has been discredited. Education experts say Gov. Christie’s teacher merit pay can do more harm than good for students

Christie and NJ are in crisis and he hasn’t fixed a thing there yet except making job cuts and refusing tunnel projects. He’s also didn’t distinguish himself with his latest showing of arrogance when he stayed on a Florida vacation instead of helping NJ when the snow came. Rudy Giuliani blasted him for it.

It gets better, as his budget policies are about to land one of America’s most crime ridden cities a deadly blow: the loss of a significant chunk of its police force.  They mayor is blaming the unions:

Redd blamed the public safety employee cuts on their unions, saying they have not been willing to make job-saving concessions or accept the reality that the state government will no longer bail out the city as it has for the past two generations.

In Redd’s mind (and the incredibly slanted article by Geoff Mulvihill of the AP) it is the fault of the unions, not the state.  But look at the situation these cuts are going to create.  Who is going to want to work in one of the most dangerous, high stress job environments in the country for a fraction of the pay you could enjoy working as a police officer anywhere else in the state, nevermind the country?

It is Governor Christie’s lack of leadership – his inability to let the citizens of New Jersey pay for the essentials of civilization – that is creating these crisis in his state.  It isn’t that he isn’t experienced enough to lead – his radical right wing policies render him unfit to lead this country.

What Police Murder Says About Us

The Police Officer who murdered an innocent man on San Francisco’s public transit system gets a lenient verdict – essentially concluding that the fear of black people is legally defensible.  As Digby notes:

He was just trying to teach the little bastard a lesson by swearing at him and then shooting him full of electricity while he was already on the ground. People have to learn to obey transit police officers unquestioningly and when they curse you out and threaten you out of the blue you have an obligation as a citizen to take whatever they mete out — including death if they accidentally pick up their torture device instead of their killing device. Shit happens.

Its not enough that we live in a police state.  We live in a racist, sadistic police state.  What does that say about us as a country?

Police State USA

Just a few words, before the professor Gates arrest and subsequent arrest of DC lawyer Tuma fades into the memory hole.
We need abuse of authority laws with the same power as hate crime laws. We need to challenge the culture behind our police state.
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Police in San Francisco Commit Murder

This is horrifying (Holly at Feministe, emphasis mine):

On New Year’s morning, the San Francisco BART police–yes, transit cops–dragged a bunch of young men off a train, including Oscar Grant. An officer then proceeded to execute Grant of them with a gunshot through the back, while he was restrained and lying face-down on the ground.

I think you should watch the videos, if you think you can handle it. They made me want to throw up, made me feel dizzy and aching, but they’re important. If bystanders hadn’t been leaning out of their trains with cellphone cameras, this incident might have passed largely unnoticed. According to witnesses, the BART police reacted immediately by confiscating cameras and phones in the name of “evidence.” The two videos that have surfaced were apparently taken by people who managed to keep their phones because the train started moving before the cops could get them. You have wonder why some city governments have been pushing in recent years to criminalize recording video in public without a license.

What was Grant doing to encourage such treatment (emphasis mine)?

It’s not entirely clear yet what happened during the incident, and it may never be. He was apparently not one of the initial group dragged off the train–one of the videos shows him unrestrained and standing up, trying to intercede with the police. According to witnesses, he was trying to de-escalate the situation between the cops and his friends.

This reminds me of a question I had when writing about a case in Maryland:

When will it be enough?  When will police abuse of power be recognized as an issue by the candidates, and addressed in a serious and systemic way?

The police have to be held accountable for actions such as these.  Pinning a man to the ground and shooting him in the back is a crime, even if a police officer commits it.  There is no justification for this.  None.  If the man was on the ground face down he could have been handcuffed or knocked unconcious.  Instead he was killed.

As Holly observes, this is a systemic issue:

This is not an isolated incident, not by a long shot. This kind of thing happens all the time: out-of-control police violence in response to non-violent communication. It happens to people of color, and to queer folks too. It happened to me and Jack a little more than a year ago, along with a group of colleagues and friends, for asking the police why they were making an arrest. An officer decided to pepper spray our group, without any real provocation. We’re lucky, and privileged, that it wasn’t a gun.

The officers responsible ought to go to jail for this.  And police departments nation wide need to engage in a serious effort to solve this problem.  As things stand now a police officer could just as equally be an out of control asshole on a life threatening power trip as the source of comfort and protection the police are supposed to represent.

If you are in the San Francisco area, there are protests planned:

There is a protest planned for today from 3-8 PM PST at the Fruitvale BART station, and another one being planned for Saturday.

BART Police have a website here.  Here is their contact info.

There ought to be an investigation immediately.  Not just of the murder, but of the efforts to cover up the crime.

UPDATE: Thanks concerned, I’ve updated the contact info for the correct department.