By Jeffrey Smith -
NEW YORK—In addition to the arrest of hundreds of protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge on Oct. 1, a major incident occurred with regard to the Sept. 24 macing of female demonstrators during the ongoing “Occupy Wall Street” demonstration intended to disrupt the N.Y. financial center.
On Oct. 1, this writer joined marchers who proceeded up Church Street, but when they reached Canal Street, police moved in. Although this reporter was not with the main group, witnesses stated that police tackled some of the marchers who were clearly not attempting to become aggressive with those in uniform.
There are Marxist and anarchist elements in the protests, and it’s difficult to discern whether there are government or private agencies that have deployed agents provocateurs among the crowd to incite incidents in an attempt to cast the entire protest in a negative light. But local support from conservative groups has helped legitimize the massive demonstration, which calls for abolishing the privately owned and controlled Federal Reserve and expresses outrage at huge salaries of millions of dollars annually paid to employees and officers of international banking groups like Kuhn-Loeb.
The protest continued up University Place toward Union Square, but for reasons still not made clear, a police supervisor, recognizable by his white uniform shirt, stepped forward to spray mace into the faces of women contained within a police barrier.
The response to videos from dozens of digital video recorders in the area has caused an explosion of interest not only across the U.S., but also around the world, after being posted on the Internet.
Another element that has the potential to incite even greater hostilities occurred when the 38,000-member Transit Workers Union voted to support their cause. They are the first major organization to support the marchers.
Joining them were several hundred Continental and United pilots, joined by additional pilots from the Air Line Pilots Association, who descended on Wall Street. The pilots, who were almost all dressed in their uniforms, were in stark contrast to the unorganized youth who had been living for weeks in Zuccotti Park.
A final element adding to the mix is an Internet-based group called “Anonymous” that has threatened to hack into Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s business records.There is widespread speculation that this prompted orders for the police to back off.
There is a widespread belief generally expressed among protesters that police actions have their origin in Bloomberg’s directives as to how to deal with protesters who don’t remain confined to the park.
“It’s all Bloomberg and his staff,” stated Jeff Burnbeck from Vermont. Others at the scene concurred. The protesters’ consensus is that the mace attack and much of the official misbehavior toward demonstrators is a reflection of the mayor and his associates.