The sole purpose of this posting by me is to draw attention to what must be the most comprehensive, well researched report on the policing of OCCUPY yet to date. The amount of information and references listed is staggering and should be required reading for everyone that has concerns for democracy and the right of dissent in this country.
“In September 2011, waves of protests against mounting socioeconomic injustice broke out across the United States, capturing the attention of the country. The Occupy Wall Street movement, inspired by similar protests around the globe, used the occupation of public space and mass demonstrations to call attention to a wide array of shared concerns.
The movement also used public assemblies to debate concerns and promote direct democratic participation. Within weeks of their emergence, the protests dramatically expanded and deepened U.S. political discourse around the widening gap between rich and poor, bank bailouts and impunity for financial crimes, and the role of money in politics.
Government responses to Occupy Wall Street in the United States have varied significantly, both within and across cities. Indeed, there have been examples of good practice, including through welcoming assemblies, using modern democratic policing styles that promote negotiation to facilitate protests, and enforcing strict controls on any use of police force.
But across the United States, abusive and unlawful protest regulation and policing practices have been and continue to be alarmingly evident. This report follows a review of thousands of news reports and hundreds of hours of video, extensive firsthand observation, and detailed witness interviews. In New York City, some of the worst practices documented include:
• Aggressive, unnecessary and excessive police force against peaceful protesters, bystanders, legal observers, and journalists
• Obstruction of press freedoms and independent legal monitoring
• Pervasive surveillance of peaceful political activity
• Violent late-night raids on peaceful encampments
• Unjustified closure of public space, dispersal of peaceful assemblies, and kettling (corralling and trapping) of protesters
• Arbitrary and selective rule enforcement and baseless arrests
• Failures to ensure transparency about applicable government policies
• Failures to ensure accountability for those allegedly responsible for abuses
These practices violate assembly and expression rights and breach the U.S. government’s international legal obligations to respect those rights. In New York City, protest policing concerns are extensive and exist against a backdrop of disproportionate and well-documented abusive policing practices in poor and minority communities outside of the protest context.”
This report will be the first in a series by the Protest and Assembly Rights Project. This report focuses on New York City, and was authored by the Global Justice Clinic (NYU School of Law) and the Walter Leitner International Human Rights Clinic (Fordham Law School). Subsequent reports will address the responses in Boston, Charlotte, Oakland, and San Francisco. Participating law clinics are at NYU, Fordham, Harvard, Stanford, Rutgers-Newark, Charlotte, and Loyola-New Orleans.