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Police Violence | Occupied Stories - Part 2

Tag Archive | "police violence"

Photos: #OpAnaheim, July 28 & 29


Anaheim, CA–In the wake of two police-related murders, people in Anaheim protested against police brutality and violence faced by the community. The photos below portray the over-reaction of the law enforcement on peaceful citizens over a two-day span of protesting.

Below is a selection of images from the photographer; more photos from the protests may be found here.

CourtneyOccupy

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Critical Mass: Now Cycling is a Crime


Editor’s note: This story originally appeared at the Occupied Times.

The following is a personal account from one of the cyclists arrested for participating in Critical Mass on Friday 27 July, during the opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games™.

Critical Mass is a celebration of cycling, taking place on the last Friday of every month. A global event, it started in San Francisco in 1992 and came to London two years later. Being a keen cyclist, I was really looking forward to last Friday’s Critical Mass on the eve of the Olympics.

Hundreds of cyclists turned up at the starting point at Waterloo Bridge on the South Bank. The atmosphere was buzzing despite the presence of police, who had imposed unreasonable, disproportionate conditions on the event, including using powers under Section 12 of the Public Order Act to stop us to cycling north of the river.

We cycled peacefully over Blackfriars Bridge in defiance of the police who had parked their van across the bridge going north, blocking off lots of traffic and causing a hold up. Many of us outmaneuvered the police, which is quite easy when you’re on a bicycle, and continued the journey to Stratford High Street in East London, where many cyclists were eventually kettled.

Much of the journey was fun, with bystanders cheering and waving, but along the route I witnessed police aggression and antagonism on Bethnal Green Road as they pushed us away from their vehicles and accelerated away – recklessly endangering peaceful cyclists. There were also reports of police and other cars ramming into cyclists, and footage on YouTube shows police pepper spraying an elderly disabled man on a tricycle.

The police eventually arrested 182 cyclists. I was one of them, bailed without charge until, conveniently, after the games end in late September. The policing of Critical Mass demonstrated to me who the police serve; not innocent people who want to go about their lawful business free from oppressive interference from the State, but corporate interests bent on airbrushing out any possible dissent from the spectacle of the Olympics™.

That impression was reinforced when Sergeant Seffer QK75 told me he knew I was involved with “that Occupy lot”, which was “further evidence that I had committed offences.”

During the six hours I spent in a grotty cell, I was reminded of the words of Olympic Black Power hero John Carlos, who spoke in London recently and told us to repeat after him: “I am not afraid to offend my oppressor”.

– Melanie Strickland –

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#ChalkWalk LA


Last week, a peaceful demonstration in LA using chalk drawings on sidewalks turned into a full-out police riot. These are stories from the people who were there.

[FA_Lite id=”4740″]

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Repression of Free Expression at Art Walk in Downtown Los Angeles


Editor’s note: This story originally appeared at Resist, Occupy, Produce.

Los Ageles, CA–On Thursday at the Downtown Los Angeles monthly Art Walk, a police escalation erupted into an uprising of the people. All because Occupy Los Angeles activists organized an action around our right to free speech through chalking. The action started at 7pm, and immediately the police made aggressive arrests for using chalk on the sidewalk. By 9pm, hundreds of cops had amassed on 5th street, some in riot gear because the people of Los Angeles had taken it upon themselves to create their own art at Artwalk. Energy and anger buzzed around the crowd as people spilled into the streets from the filled sidewalks, furious and frightened at the amount of police. A woman of small stature was slammed to the ground, face first, and then arrested for using chalk on the streets. Her face was contorted in pain as three officers twisted her arms back to zip tie her wrists. People in the streets, yell “Shame.” Chants of “Whose Streets? Our Streets” and “Fuck the police” spread through the crowd.

But really, what did the police expect? They showed up in large numbers, with weapons and riot gear. A line of motorcycle cops formed, lights flashing, engines ready. As they moved forward, the crowd ran in a dizzying, angry and frightened manner. Riot cop lines formed on all sides of the intersection, pushing people in two directions – to Pershing Square and North on Spring. Guns with rubber bullets fired at the dispersing crowd. On Spring Street, I watched a man get shot at close range, stumble from the sidewalk into the street and collapse. I ran up to him to see if he was okay; as soon as I touched his shoulder, the police surged forward towards the man. One male officer pulled back his foot and kicked the man on the side. I saw him flinch, but ran back as an officer reaches for my arm. The man was grabbed and dragged behind police lines. His limp body was cuffed and taken away. The police continued to move forward, in what the media would call the next day clearing the area block by block. Every five feet, the police line stopped, and their commanding officer yes, “Maintain the line. Whatever you do, keep the line!” Otherwise, what? The several hundred frightened people on the street, who were at least thirty feet away, would rush the line? Was this a police who are supposed to protect and serve or a militaristic group attacking civilians?

Each time they advanced, both men on either side of the line would point their guns at the crowd threateningly aiming, occasionally firing in the crowd. I later heard that the Pershing Square contingent was tear gassed. Helicopters buzzed overhead, their lights shined on the streets. The crowd continued to mill around the streets, as the police continued to move forward. Tourists and groups of young people approached the riot line and take pictures. It was a spectacle now. Riot cops in downtown Los Angeles because of chalking. The city was shut down – streets are blocked off, freeways are jammed, the train stops are closed. Clearly this is bigger than just chalk.

When we started to organize around the Central City Association after May 1st, we  knew it was a good target. After all the CCA is money in politics, it is corruption, it is a pretty big gear in the system we are trying to fight. Since our siege on CCA began, we have continually faced state repression vis-a-vis the police. It has not stopped. Captain Frank is always there lurking in the background, at least when he’s not dressed in his suit and lunching with the CCA members (as he did last month!) We have a hit nerve. Several nerves. CCA. And then the idea of private property and free speech. Free speech is not really free – we are limited to where, when and how we can exercise our right to free speech. The state makes laws in order to repress the people. Our founding fathers had no qualms about admitting that – we cannot have a true democracy, because the mass of the people must be controlled. That is the basis of our principle of democracy, that only certain people have the authority to do what they want, the rest of us must obey their laws. The masses of the people are stupid, illiterate gremlins. We cannot allow the masses to rule. It is the marginalized masses who are criminalized by most laws. This is why you cannot sit, you cannot lie, you cannot have your belongings with you on the streets of Los Angeles. Laws are made to criminalize the bodies and the existence of those who do not fit into our society.

So this is not really about chalk. It is about repression. It is about who has the authority. It is about who has the control. It is not us, it is them. And they are trying to turn the rest of the us against us. But we have to see through the media fog and their justification of their action. We must stand together as humans and realize that there are bigger problems in our society: poverty, inequality and corruption – in a word, capitalism. Capitalism is the systemic problem. This movement, which is sometimes called Occupy, for better or worse, and may never admit it, is anti-capitalist. Somewhere in its decentralized core, Occupy is about abolishing the system and restructuring our society in a completely different way. Occupy dares to shake the status quo. What happened at Art Walk is what happens to us, activists, and us, houseless, poor, and of color, all the time. We are brutally arrested, we are kicked, we are harassed by the police. Welcome, Art Walkers, to our life; welcome to the new phase of this movement: state repression.

– Karo S –

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Chalkwalk Turns Ugly


This story first appeared on RFTFL blog.
LOS ANGELES, CA – It’s unfortunate that time and time again we have seen peaceful events grow to riots caused by an excessive show of force by the LAPD.  For a bit of background- the chalk walk event was organized by a group of activists associated with Occupy Los Angeles to bring attention to the arrests that have been occurring at 626 Wilshire (the Central City East Association building).  Arrests that have largely occurred due to activists chalking political messages outside of the building to bring attention to various initiatives being pressed forward by the CCEA to essentially strip downtown clean of people the ‘not-for-profit business corporation’  sees as undesirable.  Since NBC is uninterested in doing any research to coherently articulate what the organizers intention was and since even the Artwalk co founder seems to be incapable of reading a press release or stay aware of what people in his community do;  Let me state again.  The purpose of Chalk Walk was to bring attention to the arrests that had been occurring at the CCEA.

 

The action was planned to take place between 5th and 6th on Spring street and was intended to be a peaceful outreach event to encourage friendly dialogue.  Many Artwalk regulars (parents and their children included) stopped by to draw with us.

 

Many interesting conversations sparked from discussing MacKinney vs. Nielsen, the ninth circuit court of appeals decision that ruled that chalk could not be considered vandalism and was a constitutionally protected form of free speech under the first amendment.  8 arrests occurred between 7:30- and 8:45.  All for –  you guessed it – chalking.  Everything remained peaceful during the first 7 arrests as the chalkers remained calm as they were taken into custody.

 

The escalating incident happened during the 8th arrest.  Apparently the LAPD wanted the chalk gone, the rain wasn’t working fast enough, and formed a skirmish line in front of the chalkers.  Occupiers formed a line and started chanting.  A lot of the Artwalk patrons were confused as to why there were riot police when no riot was occurring.  A female art patron (not associated with OLA), trying to de-escalate the situation, walked in the middle of the two lines and drew a smiling stick figure.  She was then tackled to the ground with such force that it caused her boyfriend to panic and lunge toward the police to protect her.  He was shoved away by a couple officers.  The womyn was then grabbed, flipped over, dropped face down onto the street and then pinned down by an officer’s knee.  Her boyfriend was visibly upset and had to be restrained by 4 of his friends. It was at this point that a multitude of art walk patrons rushed into the street to protest her treatment.  Tear gas was fired.

 

As the crowd swelled, residents watching from their windows began to throw bottles at the police line. It was this excuse that LAPD took to begin firing rubber bullets into the crowd. Some Artwalk bystanders were hit by the less- lethal ammunition* and suffered some pretty ugly injuries as a result.

 

One man -not pictured below- was shot in his chest, had the wind knocked out of him and ended up collapsing right in front of the skirmish line.
A few female protesters holding the front line rushed forward to help him and called for a medic.  However we could not get to him before the police kicked the skateboard he was cradling into his face.

 

As we were all forced to take a step back we watched as he was trampled over, flipped onto his face, zipped tied and dragged onto the sidewalk.

 

It was at this point that some bar patrons came out and hurled a couple bottles at the police.  Two female occupiers mic checked and told the crowd, “Don’t throw bottles- when you do that the cops don’t care to aim at you.  They just shoot in your general direction. Keep your brothers and sisters safe, we are not prepared to deal with less lethal ammunition.”
At one point the police attempted a right flank to kettle protesters but everyone was able to get out of the designated area.  We believe an additional 3 people were arrested as LAPD pushed the crowd North on Spring, none of which was associated with Occupy L.A. A couple hours and probably hundreds of thousands of city dollars spent on LAPD machismo later, the crowd naturally dispersed and continued along with their night.

 

So- now the real nitty gritty- Why did this happen?  This wasn’t about chalk, this wasn’t about ‘people provoking the cops’- it was about finding any excuse to lock up individuals speaking out about what is going on in downtown.

 

The CCEA’s safer cities initiative is nothing more than a way to gentrify the area into a mono-socio/economic neighborhood that does not have to worry about “ethnic problems”.  Harassing the houseless population of skid row and co-ercing them to leave is just the first step to expand CCEA’s current 97 block territory to cover the whole of downtown.  Don’t believe the houseless get harassed without reason? Go to LACAN and talk to any of the individuals that work there and I guarantee you will have an entirely different perspective on what goes on in downtown.  The safer cities initiative also lays out a plan that CCEA plans to implement by 2020 that would in essence clear out all of the businesses from Santee Alley.

 

Skid row is comprised mostly of African American residents and Santee Alley is comprised mostly of Latino or Korean business owners.  While this 2020 plan may not be intentionally racist, it certainly brings into question the morality of determining someones future or making decisions about someones livelihood in a way that will not benefit them in any way.  As well as the morality of such decisions being made by people who only stand to benefit by other’s misfortune.  In the end, this is all about economics and keeping money in the hands of the “right” people.

 

Before LAPD
photo

 

After LAPD

 

RFTFL

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Arrests & Terror at #626Wilshire


Editor’s note: a version of this story originally appeared on Ryan Rice’s blog.

Los Angeles, CA–Los Angeles residents have been laying siege to the Central City Association for nearly a month. The people have been dutifully operating within the law, pitching tents at 9 p.m. and breaking down camp by 6 a.m. right in front of the “1%’s” lobby here in Los Angeles. In the day, we occupy Pershing Square and outreach, rest, and build our community. The people involved have been arrested and harassed, and it is escalating each day we camp at the doorsteps of corporate power.

Who exactly is the CCA? Their clients include Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Boeing, Target, US Bank, Verizon, Chevron, Walmart, and AT&T. They have the ear of the City Council and mayor as they push pro-business, anti-people regulations and laws. They are the shockingly overt bridge between money and politics.

In short, they are the perfect villain – both symbolically and literally. They represent Wall St. and profits over people. They represent how policies driven by corporate cash work to oppress the poor, elderly, and communities of color. They are behind gentrification in downtown LA, evictions, rent hikes, harassment, LAPD thuggery, and government ordinances against the “99%”.

Occupiers, most of whom are themselves houseless, have been peacefully gathering every night to protest the Economic Development Meeting and the downtown 2020 plan to build new high rises, the AEG Stadium and further criminalize dissent and push out the homeless. These are some of the things they are lobbying for:

  • Action: Advocate for lifting the Jones settlement to enable equitable enforcement of laws that keep sidewalks available to all. (More info on Jones settlement)
  • Action: Expand on efforts to end the pathological tolerance of the service-resistant and/or drug-addicted chronically homeless who choose to self-destruct on our public streets.
  • Action: Partner with BIDs, LAPD, and City Attorney to identify problem areas and issues, then implement strategic, consistent law enforcement (e.g., aggressive panhandling, proliferation of shopping carts, intelligence-based graffiti removal).

So we had four arrests last night. Here are some thoughts and testimonies to the terror plot orchestrated by the LAPD around midnight, the night of June 21, 2012.

My first thoughts written last night:  

4 Arrests in Midnight LAPD Raid on CCA Siege – Occupy Los Angeles – three of my best friends and roommates, and an unknown 4th man ARRESTED. Charges unknown. Police orchestrated tactical raid with 25+ cops, pepper spray out and batons swinging. Captain Frank (at a compañera’s trial yesterday) pointed at her and said, “Don’t I know you?” Another police officer told a fifth occupier that “You’re getting arrested tomorrow.”

I couldn’t move, trapped inside a tent and seeing silhouettes of gum-chewing cops, fidgety and in war-mode. LAPD’s true colors emerging.

You want to talk targeted kidnappings and terror? Cops were laughing as they pushed and hit us. Laughing as they sent 3 snatch squads and took my friends in the dead of night.

We’re traumatized and enraged. Three of my roommates were snatched by LAPD last night. Bails are $50,000, $25,000, and $10,000. They’ve been some of the most visible organizers with the siege on the Central City Association (1%’s lobby here in Los Angeles) for nearly a month. They have all been harassed, intimidated, brutalized, and arrested by the LAPD before. They have all been occupying for months and are inspiring in their defiance and rejection of the oppressive status quo.

It began, yet again, with chalk. We’ve had five arrests for chalking at #626Wilshire, despite the 9th circuit court decision of Mackinney vs. Neilson (1995) that states: “No chalk would damage a sidewalk.” This information, along with a cease & desist letter from the National Lawyers’ Guild in Los Angeles, has been sent to the LA Police Department. Clearly they don’t care, as the first arrest of the night was for chalking. An unknown man was quickly arrested as the raid materialized from around both corners.

I was in my tent sleeping and was awoken to screams, shouts, and crying. No sirens, no instructions on a bullhorn – there was a frightening SILENCE of legitimacy as 25+ LAPD officers came out of nowhere and ambushed the peaceful, LAWFUL encampment in front of the CCA. I did not go outside.

I did not go outside because I saw silhouettes of cops with batons surrounding my tent. I did not go outside because I was threatened with arrest and flagged as a “leader” in El Segundo on Tuesday at an anti-drone military-industrial complex action. I did not go outside because the day before (June 20), I was nearly taken into custody for an alleged bench warrant. IN OPEN COURT in which I WAS A WITNESS YET TO TESTIFY. The judge said, “That reeks of witness intimidation” and wouldn’t allow it. I didn’t go outside because I heard some of the strongest comrades I know shouting in fear and uncontrollably crying in confusion and terror. The silence from the LAPD was deafening.

I did not go outside of my hiding place because I am a political dissident the State is targeting.

So I listened.

Here’s a report-back from an OccupyLA participant laying siege to the Central City Association:

Tonight at 626Wilshire the police assaulted the camp because one lone participant was chalking. They surrounded him, wrestling him to the ground, unable to site the code they were enforcing. We reminded them that chalk is not vandalism, that it is not graffiti, it washes off, and at bare minimum it is free political speech.

We stood there, six peaceful protesters, standing our ground observing this injustice- filming the police. Questioning their authority. One pig tells us,“Move to the corner of the sidewalk” and “If you don’t do what I tell you, I will make you”.

We had not moved any closer, we were not any threat to the police officers. We were peaceful protesters. The police called back up. Squad car after squad car pulled up. They took out their batons. They took out their pepper spray. They began screaming in our face. They incited violence and began beating us. They dragged away three of our comrades. They were laughing. We stood our ground. They are the terrorists of the police state. Any fucking pig with a badge, baton and gun is a coward.  LAPD is a fully funded, militarized gang. 

As I write this, I am listening to the streamer broadcasting the current but temporary eviction of Occupy Skid Row. 5 tickets have been issued, some of the VERY SAME cops from last night are taping off the area as dump trucks and bulldozers move in to continue criminalizing the homeless.

Read about the Siege on the Central City Association here. Read about gentrification here. This fight is in the streets and the people have picked the perfect situation to build a hyper-localized community of resistance. To build revolution, as so many say, we must start from the ground up. The houseless, the disaffected, the broke and hungry… they’re in the streets, they’re in jail, and they’re fighting back. Join us.

 – Ryan Rice – 

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Photos: June 10, Metro Profiling at the Grand Prix


Editor’s Note: This story is part of our ongoing first-person coverage of protests in Quebec against student debt, tuition hikes and Law 78, as well as actions elseware in solidarity to those causes.

Montreal, QC–The Grand Prix racing event kicked off Sunday morning. I entered the metro around 10:15am with Nicolas Quiazua, editor of McGill University’s Le Délit newspaper. Our bags were searched, and we were told that no media was allowed to go onto the metro that day — so we entered as civilians. When I asked allowed “Is that even legal?” someone behind us responded, “Everything is legal under law 78!”

At the entrance to the event, the profiling was significantly more intense. Anyone with a red square (sign of solidarity with the student movement), or anyone suspicious looking (young) was searched and many were told to leave.

– Zachary Bell –

More photography by Zach at ReCovered

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Photos: June 9th, Anti-Sexism and Nighttime Mayhem


Editor’s Note: This story is part of our ongoing first-person coverage of protests in Quebec against student debt, tuition hikes and Law 78, as well as actions elseware in solidarity to those causes.

Montreal, QC–At 5pm, activists gathered at Phillips Square for the anti-sexism demonstration. The manifestation was controversial among Montreal protesters because it explicitly advocated the abolition of sex work — prompting the moderator of the anti-capitalist CLAC (labor union association) listserv to issue an apology for disseminating information for the event.

The march stopped at various places to deliver speeches against Formula One’s chauvinist culture, like one at the Delta Centreville hotel, which condemned the business as a well-known spot for prostitutes to go with clients.

– Zachary Bell –

More photography by Zach at ReCovered

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Photos: June 8th, Bahrain Solidarity and Grand Prix Clashes


Editor’s Note: This story is part of our ongoing first-person coverage of protests in Quebec against student debt, tuition hikes and Law 78, as well as actions elseware in solidarity to those causes.

Montreal, QC–Around 6:30pm, the demonstrations began with a (noticeably) small protest at Dorchester Square aimed to show solidarity with the people of Bahrain.

The petite march ignored a call by the police to clear the streets, but complied when the troops moved to enforce it. Still in good spirits, the protesters sang a French chant meaning “on the sidewalk, until victory.”

– Zachary Bell –

More photography by Zach at ReCovered

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Photos: June 7th Nude-In


Editor’s Note: This story is part of our ongoing first-person coverage of protests in Quebec against student debt, tuition hikes and Law 78, as well as actions elseware in solidarity to those causes.

Montreal, QC–At 5pm, there was a demonstration at the corner of Notre Dame and des Seigneurs, which began with a megaphone announcement condemning the Grand Prix for its elitism and sexism. The protest was kettled as soon as it began, forcing a standstill.

By 5:45pm, police began selectively arresting individuals and pulling them back behind the police line. It was unclear whether this was for violating Law 78 (for example, by wearing masks), or for some other reason. Many protesters resisted, and some were successfully “de-arrested” — prevented from being pulled across the police line.

– Zachary Bell –

More photography by Zach at ReCovered

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