Video: A young girl suffers a seizure after NYPD raid Zuccotti Park on March 17, 2012.
A new report by the Protest and Assembly Rights Project, which includes civil liberties experts from law clinics at NYU, Fordham, Harvard, and Stanford, has determined what anyone paying attention already knows: The NYPD went way overboard with seemingly random protesters, and media personnel (Even innocent bystanders in multiple instances) during Occupy Wall Street. But the group's findings, compiled in Suppressing Protest: Human Rights Violations in the U.S. Response to Occupy Wall Street, detail many incidents beyond the extreme few that got the most media play, counting 130 examples of extreme force in all, on top of "a complex mapping of protest suppression."
Most of the police misconduct cited in the report comes from video footage, reputable journalists, legal observers, and firsthand accounts from authors of the study. Here are but a few:
One widely reported incident occurred on March 17, when a woman appeared to suffer a
seizure when arrested. Numerous videos show her convulsing on the ground while handcuffed. One witness described feeling “dumbfounded” as he watched her head bang against the ground repeatedly as officers did nothing; he said that he called out repeatedly for the officers to place something under head. Individuals on the scene who said that they were EMTs and offered to assist were not permitted to do so by police. Estimates varied asto the length of time it took for an ambulance to arrive, ranging from 15 to 20 minutes.
While the general legal obligation of officers to secure timely medical assistance is clear, this obligation is heightened where officers plan a major and aggressive law-enforcement operation to a large number of protesters from an area.
This injury I don't recall hearing about at all:
Then on May 30, during a student march, a member of the Research Team witnessed a particularly violent arrest. A protester was observed lying on the ground, with a number of officers standing near. The protester stated that his shoulder had just been dislocated; the officers stated that they had called an ambulance, and were not going to handcuff the protester because of his injury. However, moments later, a second group of officers rushed in and aggressively handcuffed the protester. He screamed out in pain repeatedly and told the officers about his injury, asking them to be gentle. The officers responded by stating the he was “a liar,” and they repeatedly intentionally pushed and pulled his injured shoulder. When EMTs did subsequently arrive, they inspected his shoulder, immediately removed the handcuffs, and put him in an ambulance for treatment. The individual’s lawyer later stated that the protester in fact had suffered a broken clavicle, an extremely painful and serious injury.
There's also a section on weapons use, including batons, scooters, and pepper spray, which was used in seven separate cases, according to the report.
The report concludes that the department could possibly use an inspector general (as has been suggested repeatedly) and maybe even a city review of the police tactics used throughout the protests. If not, the report suggests that the Department of Justice might be interested in their findings. However, thus far, there's been "near-complete impunity for alleged abuses."