Yesterday, the DC park service tasered an Occupy protester. This occurred after the protester was cuffed. The image of a man in p.j.s, and handcuffed being subjected to the taser sends shivers down my spine.
The man, who is known as “Lash” was in his pajamas, detained and showed absolutely no signs of resisting police. In fact no reasonable person could conclude that “Lash” could potentially resist police even if he wanted to. Nevertheless, some fool thought it appropriate to tase him. “Lash” was taken to jail. While Lash was released today, he was given an order not to go to McPherson Square. Yes, nothing says freedom like an order from the police prohibiting a victim of excessive force from rejoining a protest.
Following the tasing, Occupy DC announced they would resist efforts to “evict” them, scheduled for today at noon.
Law Enforcement’s official reason was one we heard before in other places. The police will enforce a ban on camping in the park.
True to their word, Occupy DC prepared to resist during the anticipated eviction by the Park Service. Protesters put tents and other belongings in the center of the square so
“that police cannot pick off individuals, while others are planning civil disobedience in defense of their home and our collective right to protest economic inequality!”
The occupiers also placed a blue tarp over the statue of Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson to create the “Tent of Dreams” referring to their slogan: “Let US Sleep So We Can Dream:
The police arrived seven minutes after noon. On twitter, @AaronMoFoFrench commented:
“Cones are out on K Street. Signs tell of ‘Showdown’ with US Park Police. #OccupyDC tensions seem a little high.”
According to @DaveStroup the U.S Park Police came with the intent to evict the occupiers.
“USPP: “enforcement on a case by case basis.” #occupydc” Code:take you one at a time, you let us do that no problem.”
Several people tweeting under the #occupydc observed the large media presence for the anticipated “evictions” noting there was more media than protesters.
Eventually, the police concluded the Occupy protesters were in compliance of the “no camping” ban as noted by @emilycrockett on Twitter
“Occupiers just told me police sgt told them they are in compliance. Tents open, etc #occupydc”
In other words, after using excessive force on him, the police ordered “Lash” to stay away from a protest that was in full compliance with the law.
Upon concluding that the protesters were in full compliance of the camping ban, the police presence took an unpredictable turn, at least compared to the violent scenes we have seen during previous confrontations between law enforcement and Occupy protesters.
@aubreyjwhelan describes the situation:
“Bit tense there for a bit but things have calmed down now. Protesters now telling USPP officers why they occupy. #occupydc”
Perhaps the large media presence today explains why the police opted for leaving without evicting anyone, or repeating the scene of using a taser on someone in jammies. Maybe the tent of dreams, daunted them to the point, that it really became a tent to protect the Occupiers’ dreams and their first amendment rights.
Some argued that the absence of an eviction with the horror that comes with police brutality is a let down. In my eyes, police brutality remains abhorrent. The fact that there was no violence today, does not remove the fact that “Lash” was abused yesterday. Nor does it remove the reality, that violence by the police is becoming way too commonplace.
(Image from The Washington Post)