Several hundred people from around the country are in St. Louis for this week's Occupy the Midwest conference. About 150 protesters sought to set up an encampment Thursday at Compton Hill Reservoir Park, but were told by police they would be in violation of the park's 10 p.m. curfew.
At around 10:30 p.m., officers moved in, prompting a skirmish that left some protesters bloodied. Officers used pepper spray during the exchange. Two of the 14 arrested are expected to face resisting arrest charges in addition to curfew violation charges.
Note that in the video, Ms. Witthaus states that the occupy group had already decided to leave the park on their own, due to the people who had traveled to St. Louis from other states.The did not want to risk arrest.
In the news account, one of the organizers of Occupy the Midwest had this to say on Friday morning:
"City officials had indicated that park curfew would be enforced, but the actions taken tonight were unprovoked and without warning," A.J. Segneri, an organizer of the conference, said in a statement. "Tonight's shameful actions by the city of St. Louis should be a wake-up call around the region."
From the same article, a city official had this to say:
But Eddie Roth, director of public safety for the city, said the protesters provoked officers, showing aggression toward them and acting chaotically as officers moved in.
"It wasn't police chaos," Roth said. "It was demonstrator chaos — running into streets, yelling at officers."
In this next video, it's clear that the arrests did not happen at the park, as police are grabbing protesters off the sidewalk. The person filming this clip gets pepper sprayed as he is filming the arrests while standing on the sidewalk. I do hear people yelling at the police, but I believe that tends to happen when you're pepper sprayed for no apparent reason.
Roth said the tone of Thursday's gathering was more aggressive.
"I believe a significant majority of the people gathered here under the Occupy the Midwest banner are sincere, reasonable, passionate but measured people who are here for all good reasons," Roth said. "I think there was a notable minority here to sew chaos."
I didn't see any protesters "sewing chaos," however both reports mention a smashed window on a police cruiser, but after watching the videos I can't conclude that this was done deliberately by a protester.
Here is video footage from a local news station, although they don't show much of what they obtained "due to foul language." After watching these videos, I see police violence, and zero protesters breaking any law. They aren't even in the park when the arrests begin. It also appears this cameraman is either tackled by police or caught up in another skirmish after requesting badge numbers: