As you've probably heard, the Occupy Wall Street encampment in downtown Manhattan was raided by NYPD riot police wielding truncheons and armed with chemical agents at 1am the other night. The police raid was apparently part of a coordinated attack against the protest movement in at least eighteen other cities, mediated with the help of the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.
Everyone and everything that had been set up in the space over the last two months was cleared out by police and sanitation workers. By morning the park was completely empty, except for riot police and security officers who occupied the park for much of the day. Hundreds of tents were destroyed and personal property was seized, but perhaps the greatest loss were those things that benefited the whole community. There was a kitchen that had been serving three meals a day to hundreds of hungry protesters, homeless and even locals. There were bicycle powered generators that provided electricity for the media center and anyone in the park who needed to charge a computer or phone. There was a 5,000 volume lending library, amassed through donations, which was open to anyone who desired to borrow a book. One woman broke down in tears as she described to me how the books were seized, loaded into dump trucks and carted away.
When the riot police moved in, they set up a two block perimeter around the park in all directions, and arrested or ejected media and reporters from the area, effectively refusing to allow any objective reporting of the action. By 8am, the park was completely cleared and remained occupied by riot police and security officers, who had surrounded the park with barricades and refused entrance to everyone but police for much of the day. It was a surreal scene. For the previous two months, protesters who occupied the park were surrounded by barricades and hundreds of police. On Tuesday, police occupied the park, surrounded by barricades and hundreds of protesters.
The occupation of the park by protesters led, of course, to scrutiny of the culture that had developed inside the encampment. In New York City, the propaganda war against the protest was led by Rupert Murdoch's New York Post. There were reports of sexual assault and rape, drug dealing and illegal drug use, racism, defecation and urination in public and so on. Now that police have occupied the park, it is only fair to put the NYPD under the microscope. So, what's been going on at the NYPD? Here are just a few of the incidents that have made headlines in recent months:
• In May, two NYC police officers were convicted of official misconduct for entering a drunken woman's home in the middle of the night while on duty. Though accused of rape, they were acquitted of that charge because it came down to their word against hers.
• In August, an off-duty NYC police officer was arrested for raping a woman at gunpoint in upper Manhattan.
• In October, NYC police murdered a woman outside a shelter for women suffering from mental illness or addictions. The victim was allegedly holding two knives and refused to drop them when told to do so.
• In October, sixteen NYC police officers were arrested and charged with a long list of misdemeanors and felonies in a massive "ticket fixing" scheme, in which they helped make tickets issued to friends and family disappear. Demonstrating the systemic character of this corruption, hundreds of off-duty police officers rallied outside the courthouse during the arraignment, holding signs supporting the institutional corruption of police! "It's part of our culture!" cops could be heard saying in local news coverage at the time.
• In October, a former NYPD detective testified in the trial of eight police officer charged with official corruption. He stated on the record that NYC police routinely plant drugs on innocent people to meet drug arrest quotas.
• In the same trial, another witness, a prostitute, testified that police officers routinely offered her crack cocaine in exchange for sex.
• In the last two months, tens of thousands of innocent New Yorkers were stopped and frisked by NYC police, a routine violation of the Fourth Amendment. The racist character of this practice is clearly apparent in the fact that nearly 90% of those who are stopped and frisked are black or Latino.
• In October, five NYC police officers were arrested for trafficking $1 million worth of illegal guns, cigarettes and slot machines into the city.
So what have NYC police officers been up to in recent months? Murder, rape, theft, gun smuggling, trading drugs for sex, planting evidence, engaging in official corruption, violating rights and liberties . . . and these are just the most prominent cases that have made the news in the last two months. They are shitting on the constitution and pissing on rights and liberties.