Excessive force used on ‘Occupy’ protesters
NEW YORK - ReutersNew York police officers employed excessive force, unjustified arrests and pervasive surveillance in violation of the rights of Occupy Wall Street protesters, a report from a group of human rights lawyers said.
The report, prepared by the Global Justice Clinic at New York University’s School of Law and the Walter Leitner International Human Rights Clinic at Fordham Law School, on July 25 documents 130 incidents of alleged abuse by law enforcement authorities and calls for the creation of an independent inspector general to monitor the New York Police Department (NYPD).
It cited numerous incidents in which it said police officers employed excessive force without sufficient provocation. The report also said journalists covering the movement were subjected to a pattern of harassment, including the use of force, restrictions on access and arrests. In particular, it said credentialed journalists were barred from covering the overnight raid that cleared the main Occupy encampment at Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park in November. The intimidation and use of force served to escalate tensions while having a chilling effect on the right to free speech and assembly, the authors concluded.
“Protesters, journalists, legal observers and lawyers interviewed for this report often voiced a lack of confidence in the mechanisms available for holding police accountable for misconduct,” the report said.
NYU law Professor Sarah Knuckey, one of the two principal authors of the report, said she hoped the U.S. Justice Department would consider investigating the NYPD’s conduct if the city refused to do so.