Tuesday, September 27, 2011

NYC Police Disgrace Themselves in Brutal Treatment of Wall Street Protesters

I've lived in New York City all of my life, and have never been a big fan of our police.  As a teenager, I was roughed up by cops in their search for fire crackers. I saw them point blank attack protesters in the Vietnam War era.  I've heard first hand, from friends I believe,  about police double-standard treatment of African-Americans.   And their shooting to death of Amadou Diallo who was unarmed, and their sodomizing of Abner Louima (two separate incidents), were beyond horrendous.

But they've reached a new low in mass, continuing violation of human beings and human rights in their response to the Occupy Wall Street protesters.  These are not isolated cases of cops gone crazy.   The tear-gassing of people behind barricades, the throwing to the ground of protesters who have no weapons and pose no threat, is a systematic, widespread attack on human decency, the First Amendment and its guarantee of peaceful assembly, as well as on the bodies and spirits of protesters expressing their non-violent opinion.  (See videos here.)

Police Commissioner Kelly justifiably takes great pride in how well the NYPD have defended New Yorkers from terrorist attacks.   He should also take pride in, or at very least insist upon, the NYPD defending and protecting the rights of New Yorkers and any one who visits our city to express their opinions.

Based on what has happened so far, Kelly obviously does not.  Mayor Bloomberg should replace him with someone who can grasp the difference between a criminal and a peaceful protester, between throwing a protester violently to the ground versus firmly escorting the protester off unlawfully occupied premises.

Social media - or, what I call new new media - are empowering people not only in the Middle East, but all over the world, including here in America.  We have a right to express our critique of Wall Street and the sad pass in the economy - the financial disaster - Wall Street moguls have brought us to.

Mayors would be wise to respect this and restrain out-of-control police, lest the voters boot them out of office in the next election.  And the Federal government would be wise to do something constructive, and bring any police officer who violates the rights of protesters up on charges.

And mainstream news media - I'm talking to you, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, NBC - what is taking you so long to catch up with the sustained coverage Keith Olbermann has been giving this spectacle of police misconduct on his Countdown show on Current TV?

Occupy Wall Street Chronicles, Part 1
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