Occupy protesters arrested: NYPD says it received death threat via Twitter
After a failed attempt to reclaim Zuccotti Park on Saturday night, Occupy Wall Street members say they are victims of a fresh round of alleged police brutality.
The NYPD arrested 73 protesters, who were at the park in celebration of the movement’s six-month anniversary.
“They beat people. They grabbed people by the throat, and for what?” protester Travis Morales said. “We were joyously celebrating.”
On Saturday evening, several dozen police ringed the park and watched the crowd. Detective Brian Sessa said no action would be taken as long as the activists made no move to establish a camp.
But shortly after 11:30 p.m., some protesters began to erect tents near the center of the park and police began to move in, according to protester Cari Machet.
When about 100 officers entered the park, dozens of protesters sat on the ground and refused orders to leave. They were then carried out in plastic handcuffs and put in police vehicles.
At a meeting at Pace University yesterday, protesters shared stories of allegedly being beaten by police. According to OWS members, police slammed one OWS medic against a glass door in a later arrest on East 10th Street, shattering it.
But cops tell a very different story. Police say they were reportedly investigating at least one threat made on Twitter against officers. Twitter user “smackema1″ reportedly tweeted at 11:39 p.m. Saturday, after the clash at Zuccotti: “we wont make a difference if we dont kill a cop or 2.”
Protesters were charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest along with attempted robbery and two assaults, police said.
An NYPD spokesperson distributed a video showing a woman elbowing an officer during an arrest; that woman was later seen having alleged seizures, police verified.
Protester Liesbeth Rapp said she saw the woman suffer apparent seizures for 17 minutes, with no one guarding her head as it convulsed on the concrete. Cops did not allow protesters to help, she said.
OWS leaves park ‘a mess’
Barricades surrounded Zuccotti Park all day yesterday, but they may be taken down as early as today, said a park security guard who is a former longtime NYPD officer.
“They left the park a mess,” he said, adding that when he arrived at 6 a.m. yesterday he found garbage and liquor bottles all around the park.
Workers power-washed the park throughout the day. The guard said pieces of the bricks around the trees in the parks were taken, and one of the large tiles was broken, with a piece taken out of it.
Protester Travis Morales said Occupy is now at a “crossroads,” after Saturday’s attempt at a Zuccotti revival failed.
“There was a space where all these questions could be debated, and they shut it down,” he said of Zuccotti. “There is no public space right now.”
He suggested that they keep recruiting more people for bigger rallies.
Protester Liesbeth Rapp had another idea, saying that the movement might attempt smaller events, in an effort to avoid the police presence that comes with huge rallies. “We can’t try to armwrestle Goliath,” she said. “What we can do is outsmart them.”
Follow Alison Bowen on Twitter @AlisonatMetro