Jody Michael is a junior broadcast journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]
On September 11, 2001, the New York Police Department helped mobilize “the largest rescue operation in the city’s history,” according to the 9/11 Commission Report. In the following months, officers “devoted themselves around the clock to putting New York City back on its feet.”
My, how things have changed. Ten years later, the NYPD has proven itself to be a bunch of clueless idiots.
Perhaps you’ve heard about the ongoing Occupy Wall Street protests happening in the city (and beginning to spread to other parts of the country). “Adbusters” magazine first organized the protests, though they don’t really have a specific leader.
Protestors planned a march to Union Square Sept. 24, the eighth day of protests, and faced a large police presence. Things didn’t go very well, and YouTube has the evidence to prove it.
Police officers used orange nets to keep everyone off the streets and onto the sidewalks. It got really crowded, and a few women began yelling in complaint — not being violent, just yelling. An NYPD deputy inspector promptly stormed toward them and instantly began pepper spraying them for no reason.
Arresting people and dragging them away. Tying people’s arms with zip ties way too tightly. Arresting a guy for speaking in a megaphone. An officer shoving a guy to the ground and ramming a knee onto his throat. It’s quite a laundry list of unjustified police violence.
What makes these actions even stupider is as soon as an officer begins arresting someone for no clear reason, other protesters flood around him or her holding cell phones and video cameras. Does the NYPD not think anyone else will see what’s going on? Does it not realize Americans have the right (and the duty) to film police officers and hold them accountable?
Apparently not because police officers began specifically targeting photographers and videographers as people they would like to arrest. It’s as if they think that will somehow wipe away any evidence of wrongdoing.
This is 2011. Any abuse the NYPD causes at this protest is obviously going to be on the Internet. If police officers arrest people who videotape evidence of such abuse, then other people will obviously report that abuse to the Internet.
More than a week has passed since that idiocy began, and the NYPD is still too braindead to take a hint. After the pepper spray incident, a local PBS editor rushed over to interview them. He spent eight hours in a jail cell. This past Saturday, police decided it would be a great idea to arrest New York Times reporter Natasha Lennard.
It’s unfortunate this deplorable police misconduct is overshadowing the protests’ original purpose. Wall Street deserves the attention because during the recession its profits have increased by 720 percent while the unemployment rate increased 102 percent.
If the NYPD is seriously this willing to completely abandon every ounce of credibility and respect it has ever earned, hopefully New York citizens and the press will continue to spread the word about this unacceptable behavior.