29 September 2011


Starting on September 17, an ongoing peaceful demonstration called Occupy Wall Street has been conducted in the financial district of New York City, to express opposition to what participants view as "negative corporate influence over U.S. politics and a lack of legal repercussions over the global financial crisis." Personally, I was thrilled. It marks one of the few times since the massive antiwar and civil rights demonstrations of the 1960s and 1970s that large numbers of citizens have gathered in an act of conscience to exercise their right to demonstrate against unethical and criminal behavior on the part of corporations and government. Smaller ancillary protests have been conducted in cities nationwide.

Through it all, ranks of police officers have been visibly present, more so than at any similar event in recent memory. News and social media have been rife with reports and images of police brutality toward unarmed, peaceful demonstrators. Two such images appear here. Above is a woman who was corralled by police, and then assaulted with pepper spray without provocation, at point blank range by a uniformed police officer. The shocking footage of the screams of the "woman with red hair" arrested the attention of the nation. Her name is Kelly Schomberg, and here is part of her remembrance of events after she was maced. The assaulting officer's name is Anthony Bologna. He has faced charges in the past for allegedly commiting false arrest and civil rights violations.

A second image (below) shows an unnamed police officer blatantly committing sexual assault by reaching under the shirt of a woman protester to fondle her breast. No names are available at this time. What is important to remember that each of these victims was acting legally and peacefully ~ and each of them is someone's daughter, or sister, or mother. The nation should be mortified, and outraged.

Commentor Lawrence O'Donnell of MSNBC issued a scathing editorial which condemns not only NYPD police brutality, but also daily instances of excessive use of force or authority by police officers across the nation. He is careful to note that the majority of police officers are honorable and conscientious in their work. In counterpoint, he notes that all citizens need to realize something which blacks, Latinos, Asians, and other minorities have known all along ~ that police brutality can happen anytime, anywhere. It happens in all cities, and in smaller communities as well. Police commissioners and politicians turn a blind eye, because after all, the 'thin blue line' is their own first line of defense against an angry public. Can you imagine so many ranks of police officers turning out if a large corporation or a governmental body were not the target of the demonstration? Not bloody likely.

Incidentally, the first time I bookmarked O'Donnell's commentary, then later returned to it, the video had already been censored by Youtube, or by parties unknown. After a search I was able to locate the link above. Please view it in its entirety ~ it includes a slow-motion video which clearly shows the pepper spray assault by Officer Bologna, as well as footage of other instances of unprovoked police violence. It is a vivid reminder that our nation was founded on the principles of free speech, public protest, and yes, civil disobedience. Thomas Paine, Henry David Thorough, Mohandas Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and many others form a continuous history of our responsibility to speak out against wrongdoing ~ no matter how many police officers or National Guardsmen are arrayed against us.

And if you click on the link and find that it has been censored, then that tells you that there are people in high places who are very, very afraid that their activities will see the light of day. They, like the offending police officers in New York City, have much to be ashamed of, and much to answer for.

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