Wall Street protest escalates

Added by on September 27, 2011

Anti-capitalist demonstrators in New York’s Financial district. Photo: Wikimedia / David Shankbone

An eleven day old protest by anti-capitalist demonstrators has escalated with at least 100 arrests so far, possible violent police action, and the publication of the name, phone number, and family details of a senior police officer, accused on Tuesday, of using pepper spray on a number of female protestors.

A number of widely circulated videos show an aggressive New York police department reaction to protestors. Videos show individuals that appear to be protesting peacefully being handcuffed after being wrestled to the ground by multiple police officers and held down on the ground with a knee to the throat. There are other reports of police beating, dragging, pushing, and punching protectors.

The protest, called Occupy Wall Street and billed as “A shift on revolutionary tactics” on a website used to organize the protest, demonstrators parallel their efforts to those in Egypt’s Tahrir Square in January 2011. In a blog post on the website, organizers said, “Tahrir succeeded in large part because the people of Egypt made a straightforward ultimatum – that Mubarak must go – over and over again until they won”.

Organizers continued, “…we demand that Barack Obama ordain a Presidential Commission tasked with ending the influence money has over our representatives in Washington.”

New York police officials are reported to have said that protestors did not get a permit for their marches and that protestors were obstructing traffic.

Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, said “f you have a permit, the police will accommodate for things like diverting traffic. If you take a street for a parade or protest without a permit, you are subject to arrest.”

Michael Moore boosted protestors’ morale on Monday when he showed up at the protest site saying, “It warms my heart to see all of you here”.

Organizers and demonstrators are using social media like Facebook and Twitter in addition to their own site occupywallst.org to communicate.

Organizers posted the following guidelines on their site:

  1. Stay together and keep moving!
  2. Don’t instigate cops or pedestrians with physical violence.
  3. Use basic hand signals.
  4. Empowered pace keeps at the front, back and middle of every march. These folks are empowered to make directional decisions and guide the march.
  5. We respect diversity of tactics, but consider how our actions may affect the entire group.