Monday, March 19th, 2012. New York City – The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) co-hosted a press conference at Zucotti Park in response to a weekend raid on Occupy Wall Street by the NYPD.
In response to a weekend of arrests and the closure of Zuccotti Park by the NYPD, New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman issued the following statement:
“The NYPD has once again responded to political protest with the closure of a public forum, arrests and, according to press and eye-witness accounts, violence against journalists and political dissidents.
The weekend raid on Occupy Wall Street is just the latest in a stream of scandals and abuse that has marred New York City’s Police Department. From surveillance of New York City’s Muslim and South Asian communities to the routine street interrogations of New York City’s black and Latino men, the NYPD is out of control.
Hardly a day goes by without another story of NYPD abuse hitting the news and undermining the ability of the community to trust the police department. We know the NYPD is watching us, but who is watching the NYPD? New York City is in desperate need of an Inspector General to bring strong, meaningful NYPD oversight, as well as a strong ban on religious and racial profiling. It’s time for the City Council to quickly act and pass these important reforms.”
The National Lawyers Guild released the following statement:
“The Mass Defense Coordination Committee (MDCC) of the National Lawyers Guild – New York City Chapter condemns the violent mass arrest of over 90 peaceful protesters in Zuccotti Park on March 17th, 2012. Over 1,000 people lawfully assembled in Zuccotti Park as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement’s six-month anniversary celebration. The New York City Police Department (NYPD) surrounded the park, declared the park closed, cleared the park of all demonstrators, and again surrounded it entirely with barricades. The park remained closed through early Monday afternoon.
Witnesses consistently described the clearing of the park as a “police riot.” Photographs by news journalists reveal scores of people being beaten, many while in handcuffs. Video footage on Twitter and elsewhere shows police smashing a medic’s head into a glass door with such force that the plate glass fractures. At least 6 people were hospitalized. In a now internationally publicized incident, a young woman had an epileptic seizure as she was being arrested, and was further injured by police as she lay handcuffed and convulsing in the street. Many protesters were released in the middle of the night, after having been held for over 20 hours without being given any food. Many were held for over 24 hours, and then released without being charged, while others had all charges entirely dismissed. Many were still waiting to be arraigned more than 40 hours later.
The MDCC calls for a broader recognition of NYPD’s policies and practices, which routinely subject many residents to excessive force and spurious arrest. Communities of color, transgender people, the homeless, those with physical and mental health disabilities, and religious minorities continue to be subject to indiscriminate arrest and hostile policing by the NYPD. That policing, which includes the NYPD’s stop and frisk practices and the infiltration, surveillance, and entrapment of Muslim communities, is less frequently witnessed by the media, but is a constant reality for the most vulnerable residents of New York City. The NYPD’s egregious behavior toward protesters this weekend is merely one highly visible instance of their larger program of the arbitrary and brutal behavior that disrupts the health and welfare of communities city-wide. Such alarming behavior on the part of law enforcement must end.
We demand attention to these repressive, hostile and violent practices, including a federal investigation into the policies and practices of the NYPD under the auspices of Commissioner Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg. Without critical scrutiny of NYPD policy and practice, the safety of New York City’s residents is more compromised than protected by the police.”
The National Lawyers Guild is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.
Last night, Occupy protesters marched in solidarity with people arrested on Saturday, March 17th, the 6 month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street Movement.
VIDEOS OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE
Occupy Wall Street Press Conference March 19th at Liberty Plaza.
Ydanis Rodriguez, New York City Council member.
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Press conference at Zuccotti Park on March 19th, 2012
Bill Livsey, an OWS protester. Donna Lieberman, NYCLU Director. Jumaane D. Williams, NYC Council member of the 45 district.
DemocracyNow.org: “Occupy Wall Street activist Cecily McMillan suffered a seizure when New York City police officers pulled her from the crowd and arrested her as hundreds attempted to re-occupy Zuccotti Park on Saturday to mark six months since the launch of the movement. In her first interview since her arrest, McMillan says she has decided to speak out because of an outpouring of public support. “I have received so many emails and twitters and messages and phone calls, and people [are] just really horrified about what happened to me.” McMillan has a black eye, and her body is covered in bruises, at least one in the shape of a handprint. She says she was not allowed to contact an attorney while she was taken to the hospital and transferred to a jail cell along with some of the 72 other detained protesters. Facing charges of police assault and obstructing governmental administration, she was released Monday after a judge denied a request that her bail be set at $20,000. McMillan is Northeast regional organizer for Young Democratic Socialists of America and a graduate student at the New School for Social Research. We’re also joined by Meghan Maurus, McMillan’s attorney and mass defense coordinator at the New York City chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.”