Police arrested protesters taking part in the Occupy Wall Street demonstration early this morning as the protest entered its fourth day. Participants said at least seven people were arrested, including several of the protest’s leading spokespeople and media coordinators. A Police Department spokesman would not confirm the number of arrests.
Michael Riley was on his way home to Queens from a friend’s house in Brooklyn early this morning when he decided to stop by Zuccotti Park to see how the protesters were faring. He picked up some coffee, muffins, and Snapple and brought it all by the park, where many of the 200 or so remaining protesters were still asleep in sleeping bags and makeshift tarp shelters.
“A little after I arrived, a police officer walked over and politely asked everyone to remove the tarps and tents,” Riley said. “He said it was private property, and everyone had 10 minutes to take down any free-standing structures or anything tied to trees or posts.”
Riley and several others circulated through the camp, spreading the word. Some of the protesters objected, arguing that they shouldn’t cooperate with the police request, but they were overruled by the majority, Riley says.
“All of a sudden, not five minutes after they first brought it up, about half a dozen cops are wading into the camp, forcibly tearing down tarps and pushing people around even as they were trying to comply with the orders. They were pushing young women around. I consider myself a moderate, I was just observing, but I found it quite disturbing.”
Kira Moyer-Sims, one of the protesters who has been coordinating media communications for the protesters, said that three prominent members of the media team were arrested in the scrum that followed: Justin Wedes, Dylan Jones, and a man named Spike.
“Justin had lost his voice, and was using a megaphone to try to talk to people with it,” Moyer-Sims says. “The police beat him down and violently pushed him down to the ground. He wasn’t resisting, but they were holding him down with their knees.
Moyer-Sims says today’s rain has further diminished the protesters’ numbers, but that the arrests have hardened the resolve of those who remain.
“It’s also sparked a lot of conversation about what the proper level of cooperation with the police is,” she says. “Should we be obeying everything they say, if they’re going to act like that?”
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