By Valerie Carmel
HAVANA TIMES, Sept. 25 — Some 80 persons were arrested on Saturday at the on-going Occupy Wall Street demonstration in New York City as the police appear to be stepping up violence to intimidate the non-violent protesters.
Several movements and individuals have united under the banner of occupying Wall St. to demonstrate against the influence of American corporations on the US political system.
During the first days of the occupation, which began on Sept. 17, one occupier claimed to hear an officer explain to the media that he was frustrated with the protesters’ overly legal conduct. He was frustrated because the occupiers were giving them no excuses to evacuate Liberty Plaza.
However, this weekend has witnessed a rise in police confrontation and violence against the protesters. One occupier claimed that she has always tried to reach out to blue-collar policemen, but to no avail.
On Thursday, after the execution of Troy Davis by the state of Georgia a group of about 200 hundred marched on Broadway—not on the sidewalks, but on the streets—towards Liberty Plaza.
After meeting the occupiers and chanting “We are all Troy Davis,” and “The system is racist, it lynched Troy Davis” they successfully entered Wall St. and surrounded the barricades meant to “protect” the area from the protester’s disturbances (that is to say, their drums and chants).
That night the police were ready with mace guns; ready to cause harm in case they thought it necessary. While the police claim that all arrests have been justified, all the arrests I have witnessed were random, violent, and unnecessary.
According to a police spokesperson the 80 arrests on Saturday were made “for disorderly conduct and obstructing traffic.” The spokesperson did not mention the use of tasers and mace. The video made by one of the occupiers, shows how police, after pushing some female protesters onto the sidewalk and nearly cornering them, proceed to mace them with no warning.
The violence has been met with renewed strength on the part of the occupiers. They have realized that their collective voice is no longer being ignored, that the attention has made the powerful weary (that is why they have sent the police to silence those who want to manifest their grievances), and that being recognized is reason enough to commit to the occupation.
To those taking part in the protest, occupying has become more than just mere protesting. Their day to day interactions are providing an honest example of how a society can be more inclusive, open to dialogue, and empathetic.