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Police Action Turns Violent as Occupy Boston Protesters Are Arrested

Malden residents vow to continue participating in movement against 'corporate greed.'

"Occupy Boston" protesters were , but, despite the openly stated intentions of protestors to only passively resist their evacuation, a number of officers were seen using what appeared to be excessive force against them.

As activists locked arms in a show of peaceful civil disobedience, officers dressed in all-black quickly surrounded, slowly pushed and - some, but not all - employed aggressive physical force. As the effort to remove protesters continued, some became less passive, yelling at police and resisting their evacuation. 

The police action came at the group's second tent city on the Rose Kennedy Greenway where park patrons had recently spent $150,000 to spruce it up, according to a report in the Boston Herald. Mayor Menino had asked the group to leave the area by midnight and police moved in about 1:30 a.m. 

Officers were seen arbitrarily assaulting non-threatening bystanders and using force on subjects clearly complying with their evacuation orders.

 

'We All Fell On top Of Each Other'

Protestors said they had expected arrests, but not with the degree of force displayed by some of the officers.

“I was just standing there – peacefully – with everyone else, just standing,” Bill Frank, a Jamaica Plain-based activist, said. “And they come up – big, big people come up – push you right in the face, and we all fell on top of each other.”

Frank said he stayed still as he and about 15 other protestors were “pig-piled” onto one another, and managed to slip away by remaining still and inconspicuous.

“There were grabbing people by their handkerchiefs and shirts, tearing their shirts, grabbing people by their neck, choke-slamming people to the ground and stepping on people,” he said.

In one incident, an officer was observed pushing a non-resistant female into some bushes near a ledge approximately 4 feet off the ground.

When a bystander tried to help her to her feet and leave the scene, the officer then gave him a hard push off the ledge - onto this reporter and two other bystanders, who happened to catch him as he fell headfirst toward the concrete.

Another officer was observed telling an activist to "get the (expletive) out of my face" after giving him a hard push.

The number of arrested remained unclear Tuesday morning. Activists said about 100 had been arrested, though later news reports and Twitter chatter suggests the number may be closer to 50.

 

Police Issued Warnings

A police spokesman was not immediately available for comment early Tuesday morning. However, Boston police released this statement on Monday night:

"Protestors have been asked to return to their original camp site on the Greenway and leave the area of the Greenway by Pearl Street where they expanded to earlier today....We have been communicating that request to protestors in various ways including in person, Twitter and flyers."

 

Malden Residents Vow To Continue Protesting

“I think it's very dangerous what they are doing tonight,” Malden resident Adam Lucia said before the police raid. “There's a want for more action...(but) I think it could actually sink everything that's going on.”

Still, Lucia and fellow Maldonian Brian Wills said they would continue coming to the protests, despite their objections to some tactics. Both said they would not be resisting the evacuation.

“I hope that if they stay here long enough, there will be some kind of movement to come out of this,” he said. “Some inertia.”

The original encampment at Dewey Square, just a block away from where the arrests were made on the Greenway, remains in tact this morning.

As of 7 a.m. Tuesday, both "Boston PD" and its related hashtag, "#bpd", were the fourth and fifth most trending Twitter topics in the United States.

Sew Long October 11, 2011 at 11:58 AM
give me a break caesar, no one was arbitrarily assaulted as you claim. those persons were given orders to leave an area where they were not permitted. When people refuse to comply a degree of force is used on those that refuse to obey. Many of those people involved are attracted to the chaos around events like this and seem to invite and encourage violence. I reviewed the other news reports of the same incident where you were located and they do not appear as biased as yours. Maybe your drinking the koolaid as many patchers like to refer to. Your predecessor would not have written such a one sided piece
Chris Caesar October 11, 2011 at 12:06 PM
I appreciate the feedback, but would you not consider pushing someone helping a fallen woman to her feet a somewhat arbitrary use of force by a police officer? Proportionality is important. I saw what I saw, and reported accordingly.
Sew Long October 11, 2011 at 12:37 PM
Well. I'm not sure where this "push" occurred. Did it occur in the area where you were asked to leave? If so, then it was not arbitrary. It did not happen by chance. It was not random. If it occurred as you were walking down the street or helping an old woman cross the street, then yes, I would say it was arbitrary. Maybe you should just clarify that part. I wasn't there, but i get the feeling you were reporting from the group that was ordered to leave. If so then you should expect some force to be used. Thanks
Chris Caesar October 11, 2011 at 12:43 PM
Why don't I put it this way: let's say she was jaywalking - could an officer just push her to get her out of the way? Or do police reserve physical force for instances where they or other citizens are in danger? There was no threat from the woman, or the man that tried to help her to her feet, and they were complying with police orders. Why push them? So, in that sense, I'd say it's actually the definition of arbitrary (i.e., at a personal whim). There is no reason to repeatedly attack someone already complying with your request. Thanks for commenting.
Sew Long October 11, 2011 at 01:16 PM
maybe they were standing in the tulip garden...
robert wilson October 11, 2011 at 05:50 PM
Was she running her mouth while slowly sauntering away.
Chris Caesar October 11, 2011 at 06:21 PM
No, she was not. I described what occurred.
Chris Caesar October 11, 2011 at 06:35 PM
Well, it's a good thing they were pushed.
Joe Gray October 11, 2011 at 07:17 PM
This account of the events is a bit on the strange side. That may be why some readers are skeptical. If the bystanders failed to comply with police orders for nearly 24 hours, how would the police then know that all of a sudden the bystanders residing in the off limits area were actually complying? The story above(plus others) does state that various tactics of non-compliance were being employed by the protesters to resist the police orders, possibly confuse the authorities and embarrass the officers. There was no reason for the people, supposedly assaulted, to be where they were, unless they were intentionally taunting the police to do something by their very presence. Maybe the police overreacted in some instances, but the protesters did willfully incite the confrontation. Having trained briefly with Boston police during the early 90's, when I used to be a security guard in a Boston college, I understand the officers' perspective and the requirement to follow orders. So my views may be a little one-sided.
Chris Caesar October 11, 2011 at 07:25 PM
I don't mean to sound so frustrated in my comments here, but it is striking to me that so many people who were not at the scene seem to think they have a better handle on what happened then I did. I like cops; I don't go around bashing them. This was manifestly disproportionate. They would know these kids - teenagers and 20-somethings - were complying by walking away from the premises. There is simply no reason to arbitrary push someone helping someone to the ground, or leaving the scene. The protestors welcomed arrest, but were openly stating they were only passively and peacefully resisting arrest and did not invite any kind of violence. I tried to emphasize in the article that not all the officers were doing it, but it was enough to make the entire experience incredibly scary. I was grabbed myself, at one point, but put my hands up in a surrender fashion and the cop was perfectly professional and let me go. That is certainly within bounds, I would say. Pushing a woman leaving the scene and then nearly seriously injuring someone trying to help her get up and away from the scene? What is the utility of that?
Chris Caesar October 11, 2011 at 07:26 PM
*helping someone off the ground.
Joe Gray October 11, 2011 at 07:44 PM
Chris: I am partially agreeing with you. But it has to be obvious to you that some readers are not in agreement with the extent to which the situation escalated. The protesters pushed the situation by not complying with the mayors orders and you witnessed a situation where it appears a police officer may have gone too far in carrying out those orders. Everyone is just going to disagree on this, whether they were in attendance or not. Some readers will not give any slack to the protesters for the simple reason that they were initially in open defiance of the mayor's orders. Some readers will not see past that, no matter how you explain the situation.
Ryan White October 11, 2011 at 10:22 PM
I haven't noticed any bias in your writing, just the video. Particularly around 1:06 mark. There's an example of police acting as foolishly as any of the protesters. Just before it ends, though, we can hear one of them speaking with some civility which was nice. Thanks for being down there to tell the story if what is turning out to be one big Rorschach blot of a movement.
Chris Caesar October 12, 2011 at 05:04 AM
I tried to be as fair as I could in what I captured, but it was a pretty chaotic scene. There were certainly professional cops there doing their job - actually, the guy you hear at the end is restraining me from following that man being arrested. Thanks for reading!
Elizabeth October 12, 2011 at 11:14 AM
What i find particularly troubling is that you must defend your reporting with these tit for tat responses........to people who werent even there???.....lets be clear....wall street is still making billions....off-shore profits are soaring....millions are out of work .....and families are living in shelters.....and your mayor is worried about tulips???? These draconian measures to peaceful protests are just what this movement needs to grow stronger....NYs finest deserve praise in comparison.
Chris Caesar October 12, 2011 at 02:34 PM
Thanks Elizabeth. I'm not trying to go tit-for-tat per se, but I feel like if people are commenting to me directly, I have an obligation to respond.
Joe Gray October 12, 2011 at 04:18 PM
Hi Elizabeth: Patch is setup as a discussion forum. Chris writes the stories and the residents comment on them with the understanding that the majority of the readers either have a job, have no transportation, may be elderly, may be hospitalized and/or may be in another country. There is no serious expectation that anyone commenting on Chris's or anyone else's stories in the Patch can actually attend every event reported on. If Chris were to impose draconian rules stating that you have to actually attend an event to be allowed to comment on it in an open public forum, many readers would be put off. This isn't a formal debate with rigid rules of discussion other than good taste. The understanding is that Chris is the moderator. Just to be clear, the motives and the intent of the protesters are not what I am talking about. I am only addressing the implied issue of free speech in these boards. If Chris has an opinion about a news story, some readers feel like they can ask questions or put in their two cents. I hope there is nothing wrong with that.
Elizabeth October 12, 2011 at 05:53 PM
Comments made about draconian measures where directed at boston law enforcement and the mayor and the few that repeatedly questioned Chris' reporting. Chris should not have to second guess himself. When he is lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time (and with a video camera to boot) he should record and report....i find his reporting accurate and impartial. The repeated and "indirect assertion" by a few suggest his report contains "bias." Which it does not. Viewing the video conjures up emotions that command comment.....video evoking a fervent host of emotions......on both sides of the issue....-again... and just to be clear- Chris, "you did good!"
Eric Yanco October 13, 2011 at 11:21 AM
Around 1 min mark, looks like a protester gets pushed by a cop into the back of a cop and the second cop thinks he's being pushed by the kid. The story is really much simpler than reporting on a specific push or punch or fall, especially since you're defending yourself as reporting on just what you saw. That's not "fact gathering" or journalism. It's more like blogging and any one of us could do that. The simple fact is that the protesters not only didn't have permits to begin with but that they were asked by an otherwise cooperative/tolerant city management/police force to move off of the Greenway. They didn't. And when they resist being removed, there's always the possibility of getting hurt, pushed, tossed, or whatever. The cops aren't massage therapists. The moment a crowd fails to disperse when ordered, those who remain go from "protesters" to "resisters" and the police, not being mind-readers, don't go in all friendly and nice because not only does that suggest weakness but it emboldens those who would shift from "just protesting" to "crowd agitators".... The cops handled this perfectly. You're only human but, as a journalist, if that's what you are - and not just a blogger - I think you owe it to potential readership to continually work on improving your craft. You betray a little too much sympathy to the resisters and no understanding of why/what it is like on the police side of the equation. Best wishes.
Chris Caesar October 13, 2011 at 01:02 PM
There is a reason we grant police officers the right to use force - to use proportionately when faced with force themselves, or to prevent greater injuries to others. That was not why it was used here. Sorry. I find it truly bizarre that so many people who were not even present at the protest feel obligated to tell me what actually happened. I ask again - what is the utility of pushing a man helping a woman to her feet? What is the value in that? I don't think there's a good answer. I appreciate the feedback.
Ken Coye October 13, 2011 at 07:48 PM
I applaud the restraint and professionalism of Boston P.D. Sadly, the BPD thought they had a deal with the protestors about liniting protest and "occupation to the the land near The Fed. The protestors lied and turned "the inch given to the mile taken". BPD approached in clear formation without head and eye protection. They used voice commands first to no avail. The protestors linked arms showing that they would not comply with voice commands to leave. In doing so, they obviously wanted a confrontation and whatever ugliness that follows. At this point, what were the police to do? BPD and their use of force was neither too excessive or too timid, it was just right.
Rolly October 14, 2011 at 05:03 PM
Chriss will you go home and get a job, maybe you can contribute to the shortfall of tax money ibstead of wasting more on police details . Next you will be complaining the police get paid to much.
Chris Caesar October 14, 2011 at 05:08 PM
I...have a job?
Daniel DeMaina (Editor) October 14, 2011 at 06:18 PM
You get paid to do this, Caesar? DARN IT.
Chris Caesar October 14, 2011 at 06:34 PM
I'm pretty sure that was the arrangement; I better double-check my bank account.

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