This release of the footage is the first major public documentation of the raid on November 15, 2011, when the police arrested an estimated 200.
By Laura Gottesdiener
AlterNet, September 25, 2012
More than sixty hours of footage documenting the NYPD raid on the Occupy Wall Street encampment at Zuccotti Park appeared online Sunday night, nearly one year after the event. Members of Anonymous, the hacking activist network, announced that the footage was leaked from the NYPD’s Technical Assistance Research Unit (TARU), a subsection of the department that films the police during political demonstrations.
This release of the footage is the first major public documentation of the raid on November 15, 2011, when the police arrested approximately 200 people and ended the nearly two-month occupation of Zucotti Park. The video shows crowds of people being dragged out of the park by the police, who then ransacked the camp and tore down all of the standing structures including the Kitchen, the Library and the Medical Tent. The footage also shows the police sawing through chains to break the lockdown at the center of the park, where six people chained themselves together with bicycle U-locks attached to their necks. Others chained themselves to trees and railings inside the park.
Many of these events have not been fully documented until Sunday night because the NYPD arrested, harassed and blocked journalists from reporting during the night of the raid. There were reports that both subway stations around and the airspace above Lower Manhattan was closed.
“The brash manner in which officers ordered reporters off the streets and then made them back off until the actions of the police were almost invisible is outrageous,” The New York Press Club later said in a statement.
“We want the department to investigate the incidents involved this crackdown on Zuccotti Park, and we want assurances it won’t happen again.”
Some AP journalists were so incensed by the arrest of an AP reporter and photographer that they reported the events on Twitter before the story went out on the wire, which later provoked a staff-wide email reprimanding reporters from breaking policy.
Sunday night, Anonymous announced the release of the sixty hours of footage in a two-minute teaser video posted on YouTube.
Narrated by a single person wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and a police uniform, the video explains:
“On November 15, 2011, the NYPD surrounded Zuccotti Park and proceeded to forcefully dismantle the Occupy Wall Street encampment. As part of this effort, the authorities made all media leave this scene and the only images of what happened came from livestreamer who stayed in the center of the park until his arrest and one other citizen journalist who kept filming on his camera and managed to smuggle his footage after the arrest zone.”
The narrator encourage viewers to scour the film for evidence of police brutality and misconduct.
New York Police Department Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne contested that the video was leaked from the TARU unit. He instead claims that citizen journalists and activists shot much of the video that night and that other hours of the footage may have come from evidence that the NYPD has already turned over to defense attorneys. Browne also took issue with the Anonymous narrator’s police uniform, telling Politicker, “The ‘badge’ of the left shirt pocket is clearly bogus.”
There are numerous pending lawsuits against the NYPD stemming from alleged police misconduct during the raid. One lawsuit, brought by the OWS Library, is suing the department for $47,000 for destroying or confiscating nearly 5,000 books.
In another suit on behalf of activists arrested in the park that night, attorney Jethro Eisenstein has argued that the raid itself was illegal.
The raid came the same night that members of Occupy Wall Street were planning an expansion of the encampment to another site in Lower Manhattan located at Sixth Avenue and Canal Street. Some believe that the raid itself was timed in order to thwart the expansion of the movement.
Anonymous activists themselves have often been the target of police raids and state oppression. Last July, in a coordinated crackdown against Anonymous, the FBI, Dutch National Police and the Metropolitan Police of London arrested 14 people allegedly associated with the online activist network.
Anonymous has previously hacked into and leaked information from the FBI, the Marine Corps and other local police departments,
as protests against state repression. In the summer of 2010, Anonymous hacked the Arizona police department multiple times as a protest against SB 1070.
Laura Gottesdiener is a freelance journalist and activist in New York City.