As previously reported, the police in Chapel Hill were armed with assault rifles as they went to arrest protesters who had occupied several buildings. According to the newsobserver
The former University Chrysler and Yates Motor Co. on West Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill was abandoned for “many years.” The only fact that police and protesters seem to agree on is that the protesters occupied the building.
wral reports that the protests claim the building was open. According to the protesters, the building was open. The police say they were responding to a report of a break in.
Of course, the police also say that they were watching the building since Saturday night, but they waited until Sunday to make any arrests. As reported by wral:
“Police said more than 70 attendees from an anarchist book fair broke into the former Yates Motor Co. building, at 419 W. Franklin St., on Saturday. Police monitored the group until the crowd reached a more manageable size, and then a tactical team moved in late Sunday and arrested seven people.”
Originally, I reported that these protesters were holding their version of an occupy protest. It is worth noting that it is unclear if there is a connection between these protesters and the occupy Chapel Hill. Police claim as they have in other locations across the country to work closely with the occupy movement to assure that their civil rights are protected.
This begs the question. If this wasn’t an occupy movement, are the police suggesting that they are less concerned about civil rights if the protesters in this case are Anarchists with no ties to the Occupy movement?
For authorities in Chapel Hill, the distinction between the two is actually an important one which they are working to sort out. While the Occupy Movement is a peaceful movement, anarchists have a history of violence. Let me say this again for the benefit of Occupy Movement’s critics. According to Chapel Hill’s Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, the Occupy Movement in Chapel Hill is peaceful and has been protesting outside the Chapel Hill Post Office for weeks.
While the police information about Anarchists may be true, it doesn’t coincide with some of their actions.
For example, once someone is one the ground and obviously under the physical control of an arresting police officer, they are clearly not a risk to the police or anyone else. Is it really necessary to shove a gun at the person’s gut, when they are clearly not a danger?
According to, wral,this is what happened to Justin Jacobs.
They pushed me down on the ground, forced me to lay on my stomach and rolled me over,” he said. “A cop put his gun on my lower back and I asked him if he was going to shoot me.
Also, as said in my previous report, Kieran Preissler was talking to the occupiers when the police came, but he was not a protester. Yet, an assault rifle was shoved in his face. Just what danger does talking post to the police.
There are some other reported facts that raise questions. Why did the police arrest people outside the building who were clearly not involved with the protest? Why did they arrest a journalist who was there to report on the story? Since when is it okay to turn a weapon on someone who is “armed” with a camera?
According to Myrtlebeach online:
Detained along with Davis was Katelyn Ferral, a reporter for The News & Observer of Raleigh, who told the AP she was photographing the scene from the public sidewalk as police officers wearing tactical gear rushed the area. She said one turned his weapon toward her.
Of course we recognize that law enforcement plays an important role in protecting our society. However, we also cannot over look what is becoming a disturbing trend. Even if we accept that Anarchists are dangerous, this sort of conduct occurred at several Occupy protests on Sunday.
According to the Daily Gazette, violent raids occurred in St. Louis, Portland, Denver and Albany yesterday. As observed in the same report:
Do I think it was coincidence that all three Occupy camps were raided on the same night? No, I don’t.
I think the raids were purposefully orchestrated to be in concert with each other. The government, as it is now run, cannot afford to let this Occupy movement go on much longer and reach any movement of success.
The violence continued in Denver today.
As reported by FreakOutNation, police aggression has been on-going since OccupyDenver’s inception.
Denver has a problem and it’s not the Occupiers; Mayor Michael B. Hancock with other cities simultaneously initiated hardline tactics with a collective objective to cease the protests, however, in Denver’s case this aggressiveness has been ongoing since the onset of Occupy Denver.
In Oakland, where Scott Olson was deliberately hit in the face with a tear gas canister, a top adviser to the Mayor resigned today. As reported by Reuters:
A top adviser to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan resigned on Monday over the city’s handling of anti-Wall Street demonstrations, describing a morning raid to clear a downtown protest camp as a mistake that could trigger more volatility.
These incidents, along with the treatment of people outside the building in Chapel Hill show us that this is not about the protesters being anarchists or dangerous. It’s about an increasingly violent police culture.