NY City Council Members Respond to Violent OWS Eviction, Slam the NYPD
In Zuccotti Park this afternoon, Occupy Wall Street protesters met with City Councilmembers Jumaaane Williams, Ydanis Rodriguez, and Melissa Mark-Viverito, as well as clergymembers and representatives from Occupy the Hood, for a press conference in response to Zuccotti Park's reoccupation -- and violent eviction by the NYPD -- this Saturday.
During the eviction that resulted in dozens of arrests and multiple injuries, occupier Cecily McMillan's ribs were broken, and she suffered a seizure. A witness to the injury told the press that she laid on the pavement, without protection under her head, for 17 minutes, 10 of which she was unconscious. Police stood by but did not help, she said, and prevented EMTs from providing timely medical assistance.
“I am here today because, on Saturday night, I saw the NYPD using brutal excessive force arresting peaceful people that had gathered in this park,” Councilman Rodriguez, who was arrested during the first eviction, said, “More than 1,000 people came here to celebrate our sixth month anniversary in a peacful way, saying Occupy is here. Occupy is alive. Occupy will not leave.”
Councilman Jumaane Williams, who was also arrested at an Occupy protest this November, repeatedly stressed that the police did not have valid reason to enter and close a public-private park that is required to be open to the public 24 hours a day, and encouraged the media to ask why police entered and violently evicted the park at that time. "Occupiers did nothing did to invite aggression by the police," he said, adding that there were no tents erected. He and Rodriguez frequently referenced New Yorkers' right to exercise the 1st Amendment, utlize public spaces, and enjoy a sense of safety not threatened by the NYPD. Williams also said he is preparing a protesters' Bill of Rights to present to NYC Council speaker Chrisitne Quinn.
"We need to understand the Occupy Wall Street movement are not terrorists; they are not enemies of the state. Why are the police treating them as such?” said Williams. Rodriguez urged the NYPD to protect the Constitution as vivaciously as it fights terrorism.
Speakers said that the NYPD's violence against protesters will not suppress the movement, and only serves to highlight occupiers' non-violence, and evidence the oppressive state in which we live. They said that the violence by police against Occupy protesters is only the latest in a long line of NYPD atrocities, and that this summer will see the low-income communities long-affected by police brutality marching shoulder to shoulder with Occupy protesters.
This Saturday, demonstrators will take to the streets again, and the urge the NYPD to respect their Constitutional rights. Regardless, they said, they will not be intimidated by acts of violence, but will only grow stronger, welcoming the American Spring.