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Caught on Camera: 10 Shockingly Violent Police Assaults on Occupy Protesters

Probably 97 percent of police act professionally toward protesters. But the other 3 percent are armed and dangerous, and know that they're unlikely to be held accountable.

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“Crowds of protesters are heterogenous,” ACLU of Northern Califoria staff attorney Linda Lye told AlterNet recently. “They simply cannot deploy these weapons against a whole group of people because a few of them throw some objects.”

This is another image, courtesy of the AP, that's fast becoming iconic – it shows 84-year-old Dorli Rainey, a retired schoolteacher, being helped after receiving a blast of pepper-spray by Seattle police on October 15.

A woman who was three months pregnant was also reportedly sprayed that night, requiring hospitalization. This was reportedly a response to a single protester throwing an “unidentified liquid” at a police officer, who was unharmed. This picture shows that the police response was broad and indiscriminate, hitting not only those who may have been aggressive but also protesters like Rainey, who couldn't possibly represent a threat.

6. 'Police Escalated the Situation'

Here is a similar scenario out of Denver, courtesy of the local NBC affiliate. At around 1:30, the reporter says that, according to protesters, “police escalated the situation.” It's an important point. Overly aggressive police tactics are infuriating, and can turn otherwise peaceful protesters violent; it becomes a vicious cycle. Good crowd control should have de-escalating tension as its ultimate goal.

7. NYPD Officer Punches Retreating Activist in the Face 

These videos show two angles of activist Felix Rivera-Pitre being punched in the face by a police officer later identified as Deputy Inspector Johnny Cardona. Rivera-Pitre, and several witnesses at the scene, say he was trying to get away from the officer when he was assaulted in an unprovoked attack.

Note how the crowd is calm before the assault and then goes into a frenzy immediately afterward. Here, again, police violence appears to be counter-productive to the goal of maintaining order.

The NYPD claims that Rivera-Pitre tried to elbow Cardona, and issued a warrant for his arrest. Rivera-Pitre's lawyer, Ron Kuby, told the Village Voice, "We deny that. There's no video, there are no photographs of that. But, even so, Cardona was not making an arrest; he was beating somebody up. Sucker-punching someone in the jaw is not a means of making that arrest. He should be arrested for that, but the police don't want to." 

8. The Video That Propelled a Movement 

It's entirely possible that this video of Officer Anthony Bologna pepper-spraying several women in an NYPD “kettle” led to the Occupy movement's rapid expansion. Watch the clip and keep an eye on the bald police officer on the lower-right-side of the frame. He appears to be genuinely shocked by what he witnesses. His body language says, "what the hell was that about?"

9. Nonviolence met with Violence 

This is a classic case of nonviolent resistance being met with police violence. In the video, courtesy of RT, the man on the ground is limp and non-threatening, with his arms locked with another protester, when an NYPD officer punches him repeatedly in the face. Several others are then manhandled by the cops for no obvious reason.

10. Firing on Medics

This video shows the moment when Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen was wounded by Oakland police officers on October 25. There are two things to keep in mind here. First, the Oakland police manual forbids police from deploying teargas or flash-bang grenades directly at a crowd of protesters, regardless of what's happening on the street. Second, after Olsen is wounded, a cop throws a flash-bang grenade directly and apparently purposefully at those trying to assist him. Even in wartime, it's a violation of international law to fire on unarmed medical personnel tending to the wounded.