NEW YORK, NEW YORK – A retired New York state Supreme Court justice was shoved into a wall by NYPD officers after she intervened in an attempt to stop officers from brutally beating the mother of an ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protester on Tuesday morning.
Judge Karen Smith told Democracy Now! that she was working as a legal observer for the National Lawyers Guild, immediately identifiable as such by her day-glo neon green hat, when she witnessed a shocking incident of police brutality.
“I was there to take down the names of people who were arrested,” she explained. “As I’m standing there, an African-American woman goes up to a police officer and says, ‘I need to get in. My daughter’s there, I want to know if she is OK.’ And he said, ‘Move on, lady,’ and they kept pushing with their sticks, pushing back and she was crying… he throws her to the ground and starts hitting her in the head.”
Smith knew she had to do something to stop the horrific attack.
“I walk over and I say, ‘Look, cuff her if she’s done something, but you don’t need to do that.’ He said, ‘lady, you want to get arrested?’ I said, ‘Do you see my hat? I’m here as a legal observer.’ He said, ‘Do you want to get arrested?’ and he pushed me up against the wall.”
Sadly, such brutality is all too common across the nation as police resort to heavy-handed tactics to deal with overwhelmingly peaceful ‘Occupy’ protesters. In Seattle, 84-year-old Dorli Rainey, a former mayoral candidate who stands all but 4’10″ (1.47 m), was attacked with chemical weapons on Monday. She wasn’t alone; a priest and a pregnant teen were among the many peaceful protesters who were pepper sprayed. The pregnant girl required hospitalization.
“My problem is not only with police brutality, it is with the progressive getting worse attitude of the police,” Rainey, who grew up in Nazi Germany, told Democracy Now! ”I was tear-gassed… in Seattle when the WTO was there in Seattle. And I also was in a workshop with Arundhati Roy when she was in Seattle for theWTO. These locations, while they were pretty violent outside, were not nearly as bad as what we see now. It is getting progressively worse. Our freedoms are getting curtailed. And I just listened to the press being banned at Wall Street—this in a country where we export our sort of democracy all over the world at gunpoint.”
Rainey appeared on Current TV’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann last night, where she said implored people to stand up for what’s right and to ”take one more step out of your comfort zone.” “It would be so easy to say, ‘Well I’m going to retire, I’m going to sit around, watch television or eat bonbons,’ but somebody’s got to keep ’em awake and let ’em know what is really going on in this world,” she said.
No one is immune from police brutality as the ruling class circles the wagons and dispatches its gatekeepers (the police) to crush the ‘Occupy’ uprising. No one. Not old ladies, not military veterans who fought the one percent’s wars against poor people in far-flung lands. On two separate occasions, two War on Terror vets were hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after police in Oakland, California violently attacked ‘Occupy’ demonstrators. On October 25, former Marine and Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen was shot by a police projectile that fractured his skull and sent him to the intensive care unit with a swollen brain. Days later, Kayvan Sabehgi, a former Army Ranger and veteran of both the Iraq and Afghan wars, was brutally beaten by police in downtown Oakland. He ended up on the operating table with a lacerated spleen after being denied proper medical attention for the better part of an entire day.
Nearby, peaceful and unarmed students at the University of California, Berkeley were attacked by riot police on their own campus.
It’s not just protesters who have been brutalized and arrested. New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez was beaten bloody and arrested at Tuesday’s violent ‘Occupy Wall Street’ eviction in Lower Manhattan. Also arrested was Paul Newell, the Democratic District Leader for New York’s 64th Assembly District.
And chillingly, journalists have also been targeted for beatings and arrest for nothing more than doing their jobs. NYPD officers told reporters that “you’re not press tonight” as they roughed up and arrested employees of NPR, the New York Times, the New York Post, NBC and other outlets big and small after the powers-that-be decided to black out media access to the Zuccotti Park/Liberty Square eviction site.
This blatant disregard for First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, assembly and the press is highly disturbing, to say the least. But rather than dissuade demonstrators, concerned citizens and the media from carrying on or covering the ‘Occupy’ phenomenon, police-state tactics will only embolden and enlarge the movement. After all, it was after Americans saw images of civil rights and peace activists being savagely attacked by police in the 1960s that public opinion turned in favor of those movements.