For more than a week, a group of protesters have been encamped at New York City's Zuccotti Park. They're part of a protest they've termed "Occupy Wall Street." While the group was intent on making a point about what they say is Wall Street's "greed and corruption," much of the media focus has been about the scattered nature of the movement.
But over the weekend, the protests turned serious and controversial when the New York City Police Department arrested 80 in a march from Lower Manhattan to Union Square.
As The New York Times reports, police said most were arrested for "disorderly conduct by individuals who blocked vehicular and pedestrian traffic, but also for resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration and, in one instance, for assault on a police officer."
The protesters disagreed. They said they were arrested on sidewalks and for no reason. One video that has made the rounds online appears to show a police officer using pepper spray on protesters:
The New York Times reports today that police said the pepper spray was used "appropriately." Some protesters called it "police brutality."
Other protesters released from jail Sunday complained they were pepper sprayed, roughed up, denied food and water and ridiculed by cops as "hippies."
"It was inhumane. We were treated like criminals, like we just raped someone," said Mariana Flor, 23, a student at Borough of Manhattan Community College, who was arrested on disorderly conduct charges.
She said she was squeezed into a police van with 15 other protesters and taunted by cops.
"They held water bottles in front of us and drank them. They laughed at everyone and called us 'liberals' and 'hippies,' " Flor said of the police. "They told us we're losers."
For their part in a post on the Occupy Wall Street site, the organizers vowed to continue the protests.
"Drums blared for hours into the night when the Assembly wasn't in session, until the time came for quiet," they wrote. "The drummers ended by reciting from the Principles of Solidarity we approved in Friday's General Assembly in the rain. Before the police lined along the Broadway side of the plaza, they cried together, 'We are daring to imagine a new socio-political and economic alternative that offers greater possibility of equality.'"