Watched in real time by an international audience, New York's police officers moved in on Zuccotti Park. It was 7.20am, on September 20th 2011, and a light rain was falling over the 200-300 people camping out there. They had been there for four days, as part of the Occupy Wall Street protest. What began as a request from police, to remove tents and tarpaulin, ended in seven arrests. Onlookers claimed these were too violent.
The Global Revolution Livestream captured much of the incident, channeling the footage in real time to its 3000 plus viewers. In addition, some protesters were filming the arrests, then they uploaded their videos onto YouTube.
Why Were People Arrested in New York City's Zuccotti Park?
The Occupy Wall Street protesters had erected tents and draped tarpaulin over themselves and their supplies. Of particular concern was the food, water and electrical equipment, which could have been damaged in the rain. A police officer gave them five minutes to remove these covers, complaining that they constituted illegal structures. An on-site legal advisor informed demonstrators that this was only true of shelters which were attached to the trees. Police also demanded that signs be taken down.
An impromptu General Assembly was held, involving a straw poll on whether to co-operate with police on this matter. But while that was happening, other protesters were already removing the offending tents and tarpaulin. As the speaker recommended that anyone not wishing to comply left up their shelter, in an act of civil disobedience, he became the first to be arrested.
Onlookers chanted, "The whole world is watching", then, as the tousling started, the message changed. Committed to a peaceful demonstration, protesters gave peace signs and spoke in unison, "Courtesy, professionalism and respect." The tents and tarpaulin were all taken by officers.
Was Police Brutality in Evidence As Protesters Were Arrested on September 20th 2011?
US Day of Rage Tweeted that someone had lost a tooth, during the arrests on the morning of September 20th 2011.
Protester Jason Ahmadi was filmed being dragged by his feet across the pavement by uniformed officers. His head was protected by his rucksack, which had been thrown upwards by the force of inertia. But his hands were cuffed behind him and they were shown grazed and bleeding by the camera. That wasn't the only problem. His face was ashen, but his one hand was growing purple, as the handcuffs cut too tightly.
"I could really do with some new cuffs here." He told anyone who would listen. "My hands hurt. I can't move my hands." Fellow protesters tried to intercede on his behalf, calling out to NYPD officers to loosen or change the handcuffs. They were still saying it as he was hoisted between two policemen and dragged, his legs sliding across the tarmac, into the van.
Asthma Sufferer Screams 'I Can't Breathe!' As Police Arrest Him
Meanwhile the camera had been distracted to the desperate cries of another, unnamed boy. He had been sitting on the tarpaulin, which covered the media equipment - the cameras and video equipment, which were used to send footage to the Livestream. A single police officer stepped towards him and he flinched away. Suddenly another six officers were grabbing and pulling him off the blue sheet. He started to struggle, but it wasn't merely another person resisting arrest. He was suffering an asthma attack.
Mary-Ann McSherry rushed to help him, but was arrested herself. Meanwhile his voice held a tone of panicked hysteria, "I can't breathe! I can't breathe! I'm having an asthma attack!" Each sentence was punctuated by gasps. "I need my inhaler!" He was wrestled to the ground and two officers are clearly seen on film pressing down upon him.
In the crowds around, voices were raised in protest. "You're killing him!" Shrieked one, while an incredulous man demanded, "Is this why you wanted to wear a badge? To deny a kid his inhaler? Is it?" A policer officer assured onlookers that the boy would get his medication, as he joined colleagues in attempting to clear a space. A moment later, the boy was handcuffed and then came the calls for his inhaler. He was shown fervently catching his breath, sitting on the pavement, before being taken into the police van.
What was the Response of Police to the Accusations of Protesters in New York?
A spokesperson for NYPD commented that only one of those arrested required medical treatment. This was a minor leg injury, sustained while he resisted arrest. He was treated by paramedics at the police station. There was no comment upon the condition of the others. Meanwhile, OccupyWallStNYC Tweeted that their information was that an arrestee had been transferred to hospital.
The police spokesperson added that most of those arrested had been a court summons for disorderly conduct, then released.
These arrests followed police action, on the evening of September 19th 2011, wherein the gas supplies and generator were confiscated. These had been used to power equipment used in transmitting film footage to the Global Revolution Livestream. The news scrollbar, on the stream, also stated that food deliveries had been denied access to the site.
- Death and Taxes, Excessive Police Force in Occupy Wall Street Arrests (Video). (September 20th 2011.)
- Livestream, Global Revolution. (September 20th 2011.)
- Twitter, @USDayofRage. (Tweet about arrested protester losing a tooth on September 20th 2011.)
- Twitter, @OccupyWallStNYC. (Tweet about arrestee going to hospital.)
- Wall Street Journal, 7 protesters arrested at Wall St. demonstration. (September 20th 2011.)
* YouTube, Occupy Wall Street Protesters' Arrests. (Uploaded by Korgasmx on September 20th 2011.)
- YouTube, "I CAN'T BREATHE!" - Police Shoving at 10:30AM at Liberty Plaza. (Uploaded by LibertyPlazaRev on September 20th 2011.)
- YouTube, Police arrests this morning 20th sep 2011 (1) OCCUPY WALL STREET. (Uploaded by LibertyPlazaRev on September 20th 2011.)
* YouTube, Police arrests this morning 20th sep 2011 (2) OCCUPY WALL STREET. (Uploaded by LibertyPlazaRev on September 20th 2011.)