Thank goodness. Academia is finally churning out, and publishing some long term studies on the abuses I’ve watched unfold with my own eyes regarding the OWS protests. It gives me hope. Read the entire article for all the details, and the methods involved in the study, but here are a few noteworthy passages:
The first systematic look at the New York police department’s response to Occupy Wall Street protests paints a damning picture of an out-of-control and aggressive organization that routinely acted beyond its powers.
In a report that followed an eight-month study (pdf), researchers at the law schools of NYU and Fordham accuse the NYPD of deploying unnecessarily aggressive force, obstructing press freedoms and making arbitrary and baseless arrests.
The study, published on Wednesday, found evidence that police made violent late-night raids on peaceful encampments, obstructed independent legal monitors and was opaque about its policies.
The NYPD report is the first of a series to look at how police authorities in five US cities, including Oakland and Boston, have treated the Occupy movement since it began in September 2011. The research concludes that there now is a systematic effort by authorities to suppress protests, even when these are lawful and pose no threat to the public.
Sarah Knuckey, a professor of law at NYU, said: “All the case studies we collected show the police are violating basic rights consistently, and the level of impunity is shocking”.
The report lists a total of 130 incidents of excessive or unwarranted force, which, it says, require investigation by authorities. To date, only one NYPD officer – deputy inspector Anthony Bologna, who pepper-sprayed several female protesters on 24 September 2011 – has faced disciplinary proceedings for using excessive force during the Occupy protests.
The report makes a host of recommendations around investigation of abuses, transparency, policy review and reformulation, and setting up external oversight. NYU and Fordham are also making the report the basis of written complaints made today to Bloomberg and the NYPD, the state department of justice as well as the United Nations.
Raising the matter with the the international body is especially important, Knuckey said, because there have been instances of authorities in Egypt, Syria and Indonesia pointing to NYPD actions to justify their own and far more severe crackdowns on non-violent protests.
“The point needs to be made that the NYPD does not exemplify international human rights law, it violates it,” she said.