With the weather getting colder and news outlets packing up and moving on to different stories, it’s now up to Occupy Wall Street’s own media team to start sending out videos of their violent arrests. But can we trust what we’re seeing?
As we mentioned earlier, last night saw at least 10 protesters arrested in their march towards Union Square, where they were met by police in riot gear and orange netting. This video was sent around this morning by Vlad Teichberg, a member of General Assembly/OWS’ media team, with the subject line “Graphic Footage of NYPD police attacking #occupywallst protestors solidarity march.”
We’ve discussed OWS’s image problem before, but the release of this video just about sums is up. In it, the protesters don’t seem peaceful at all: after one of their members is forced to the ground and arrested (around the 4:10 mark) you can see a young man in a hoodie screaming directly into a police officer’s face, “Who do you serve? Who do you protect?” while the N.Y.P.D. does its best to ignore him.
The video has also been highly edited to slow down the portions where the cops attack a protester, but remain at normal speed (and in fact focuses the lens away from) the moments where irate crowd members actually push police officers who are trying to force them back on the sidewalk. According to other outlets, the protesters weren’t just screaming slogans either: ABC news reports the “goading” calls of people screaming “No justice, dirty pigs, cops come here,” possibly in an attempt to get arrested themselves. They also pushed through the orange netting and cut through the ropes the police had set up to barricade protesters from the street.
If anything, the video works against OWS: if it was supposed to garner any sympathy towards the cause and bring awareness to the violence in Oakland on Tuesday–when a police/protester clash lead to several people being severely injured (one of whom, Iraq war veteran and U.S. Marine Scott Olsen, recieved a fractured skull during the fray)–it failed on several levels. It’s highly edited and not “raw footage,” and thus makes itself as open to criticism as any Fox video. It also doesn’t make the protesters themselves look very good: instead of showing the police blindly attacking peaceful protesters, what we see here is an angry mob trying to push through a wall of cops in riot gear who, for the most part, refuse to take the bait.