- Posted February 5, 2012 by
Washington, District of Columbia
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Occupy Wall Street
'No bedding' enforcement at Occupy DC turns violent
At approximately 5: 20am -on February 4th, 20011, Park Police started to move in McPherson square in an initial attempt to enforce the 'no bedding rule'. This rule stated that no bedding material could be inside the tents during their 24-hour vigil, as they protested against who they call 'the 1%'. Notices have been given a little over a weeka go and January 30th, at noon, marked the day in which Park Police had the authority to begin enforcing this rule.
By 5:40am Park Police had barricaded the entire center of the square and started what would turn into a very amicable exchange between Police and 'occupiers'. Captain Phil Beck lead the operation asking the occupiers to take down the blue tarp, also known as the Tent of dreams, that had been covering Gen. McPherson statue since Monday at noon. Underneath the tarp were also several tents in which occupiers slept. The Occupiers, noting the interest of the Smithsonian Museum to put on display the tent of dreams, decided to cut the tarp and don't fight with the police. After this was done Capt. Beck requested for some of the occupiers to come down from the statue so that they could talk about the actions taking place that day. As the Captain explained that Park Police was there to only enforce the no-bedding rule Occupiers felt more sympathetic towards police presence, as it was also promised to them that no tents will be taken away and that the call to action shouldn't be interpreted as an eviction. This further intertwined both groups. After coming to a consensus, occupiers decided to help the police move away the stuff from the surrounding circle of Gen. McPherson's statue. After that was done, most occupiers decided to leave by their own means, while 5 of them decided to remain around the statue and therefore get arrested.
As the center of the square was cleared, Police in Hazmat suits and park police moved in to start cleaning up the area. This brought the very first problem between occupiers and the police, when the police started to confiscate tents-which according to occupiers, had no bedding but only personal belongings. As this was something which wasn't covered in the original agreement, Occupiers got furious as they felt they have just been cheated by the Capt of the operation. This lead to the arrest of 1 of the individuals who 1 hour ago was under ' the tent of dreams' but had just now trespassed a police line to get some answers from Capt. Beck.
As police continued to move and confiscate more tents occupiers got more and more mad which continously scalated the situation until police tased an occupier who was protesting this.
At this point Park police was almost done with the first 2 quadrants. Given the sense of betrayal occupiers felt from police, they decided to start planning a few actions-such as blocking police from reaching their tents. As Park police moved to put barricades around the 3rd quadrants, occupiers blocked their way which resulted in pushing, from both sides and specially shoving from the police side- helped by their shields.
As the police exercise the same technique to take over the remaining quadrants so did some of the occupiers who did everybody in their power to stop the police from putting the barricades. The same call of actions, from both sides, followed for the remaining area until there were 2 more quadrants left.
After severak occupiers sat down by the library, at the camp, asking for the books to be destroyed and waiting the police, with the help of the swat team, moved in. This time the police did more than just shove and push people.
2 groups of police officers stormed into both quadrants, at once, pushing people and swinging their batons away as occupiers and general public looked in awe and confusion without knowing what to do. The level of brutality exercised at this point was one nobody was expecting, to the extent that several individuals were trampled, as an stampede took place. A stampede which didn't have anywhere to go because of the amount of people present at the park and the quickness in which police wanted for everybody to disperse, even after noticing people trapped under others. Member of the media, occupiers and general public were indiscriminately shoved against each other in an action not expected by anybody. Several people were injured and according to court records(UPDATED, since it was first noted to the press a brick was used) an occupier threw a bottle to a police officer, reason why he was arrested. After Police took over the park occupiers and gen. public were outraged at the way the police have acted; several people were seen crying and hugging each other. They were a few sparks of violence here and there and at some point one occupiers was, supposedly, knocked unconcious before been taken by the police.
After eveyrthing calmed down, Occupiers had an emergency General Assembly to discuss what just happened and how they felt. By 10pm they were no more occupiers in the vicinity.
A day to remeber, a day to forget.