Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Democracy On The Lurch


Occupy Atlanta is in court today after Mayor Reed had 53 demonstrators arrested from Troy Davis Park (renamed by Occupy Atlanta - conventionally known as Woodruff Park).  After a surprising about face on his executive order to allow demonstrators to remain, police came into the park at 12:45 A.M. Tuesday to make arrests.  On video, the demonstrators sit in an orderly and peaceful circle, chanting, and are individually walked or carried out.  Nevertheless, there were rough moments;  in one Occupy Atlanta photograph, an officer is shown sticking his finger in a demonstrator's eye.

Demonstrators arrested and cuffed included State Senator Vincent D. Ford, Joe Beasley, the southern regional director for Rainbow PUSH, and former Atlanta city councilman Derrick Boazman.

The arrests were preceded by a group of clergy sent by the Mayor to talk with the demonstrators.  This proved confusing since the clergy claimed to be neutral when they had been sent by the Mayor to get the demonstrators to leave.

Occupy Atlanta spokeswoman La'Die Mansfield who nevertheless met with the clergy twice stated:  "I think [the clergy] were sent here to give the mayor cover [..] Not everyone, but most of them." 

This makes sense too since Mayor Reed used the meetings - and one clergyman's statement that the demonstrators were not listening to him enough - as the stated basis for his "final" decision to arrest the demonstrators in the middle of the night.


Courtesy of LA Times
Unknown Photographer

Mayor Reed's decision was made around the same time Mayor Jean Quan of Oakland, California sent over 500 police in riot gear to remove Occupy Oakland from Oscar Grant Plaza (renamed by activists - conventionally known as Frank Ogawa Plaza).  Instead of arresting protesters, however, the police brutally drove everyone out with tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash grenades.  One observer reported what seemed to be sound bombs.

Mainstream media were reportedly not allowed into the area to report.  However, at least one reporter from Bay City News Service was caught in the gasing

And still, a number of Americans took phone video and photographs of the chaos.  So we can still see what our mayors' offices and police departments are up to.  One videographer calls out to the police while recording, reminding them of the right to free assembly under the U.S. Constitution.  The police ignore him.

Think Progress reports here with that citizen footage plus copies of Occupy Oakland's live tweeting.  LA Times reports 100 arrested in clashes in a crowd estimated between 1,000-1,500 people. 

Occupy Oakland reports presently reoccupying at Snow Park. 

The LA Times says demonstrators plan to return today to Oscar Grant Plaza.

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