Why Are Police Attacking Peaceful Protesters? How OWS Has Exposed the Militarization of US Law Enfor
As the number of OWS arrests nears 1,000, instances of police brutality continue to pile up. Now all of America is seeing the result of police militarization.
by Rania Khalek for Alternet
October 20, 2011
Protesters at Occupy San Francisco are familiar with the routine. They have endured multiple late-night police raids on their encampment in Justin Herman Plaza, the most brutal of which took place Sunday, Oct. 16. Minutes before midnight and with the approval of Mayor Ed Lee (who is currently running for reelection and claims to be supportive of the movement’s overall message), 70 police officers decked out in full riot gear marched into the encampment to enforce a 10pm curfew. They dismantled tents, tarps, the medical station and the kitchen, along with some personal belongings, all of which were loaded onto Department of Public Works trucks.
Some 200 protesters resisted peacefully, locking arms to prevent the police invasion, which was met with a frighteningly violent response. According to the San Francisco Bay Guardian, one protester received a lengthy beat-down for duct-taping his body to a pole inside the camp. The police allegedly “ripped him off the pole, threw him to the ground and struck him in the head and ribs. When he left by ambulance a few hours later, he appeared to be convulsing or seizing,” reported the Bay Guardian.
Protesters using their bodies to block the DPW trucks from leaving were dragged out of the street, some by their fingers and thumbs. Those who locked arms to form a human chain were pulled apart and thrown onto the sidewalk.
Ryan Hadar, 19, described his experience to the Guardian: “They bent back my thumbs, trying to pry me away from the people I was locking arms with. When I asked if they were trying to break my thumbs [one officer] replied, ‘Only if I have to.’ Then they dragged me to the sidewalk by my index finger. I asked if they were trying to break my finger, and this time they replied, ‘Yes.’”
After destroying the campsite, sending one activist to the hospital and arresting at least five protesters, the police departed from the scene around 1:40am.