David Graeber: New Police Strategy in New York – Sexual Assault Against Peaceful Protestors

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By David Graeber, a Reader in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London, and an author and activist currently based in New York

A few weeks ago I was with a few companions from Occupy Wall Street in Union Square when an old friend — I’ll call her Eileen — passed through, her hand in a cast.

“What happened to you?” I asked.

“Oh, this?” she held it up. “I was in Liberty Park on the 17th [the Six Month Anniversary of the Occupation]. When the cops were pushing us out the park, one of them yanked at my breast.”

“Again?” someone said.

We had all been hearing stories like this. In fact, there had been continual reports of police officers groping women during the nightly evictions from Union Square itself over the previous two weeks.

“Yeah so I screamed at the guy, I said, ‘you grabbed my boob! what are you, some kind of fucking pervert?’ So they took me behind the lines and broke my wrists.”

Actually, she quickly clarified, only one wrist was literally broken. She proceeded to launch into a careful, well-nigh clinical blow-by-blow description of what had happened. An experienced activist, she knew to go limp when police seized her, and how to do nothing that could possibly be described as resisting arrest. Police dragged her, partly by the hair, behind their lines and threw her to the ground, periodically shouting “stop resisting!” as she shouted back “I’m not resisting!” At one point though, she said, she did tell them her glasses had fallen to the sidewalk next to her, and announced she was going to reach over to retrieve them. That apparently gave them all the excuse they needed. One seized her right arm and bent her wrist backwards in what she said appeared to be some kind of marshal-arts move, leaving it not broken, but seriously damaged. “I don’t know exactly what they did to my left wrist—at that point I was too busy screaming at the top of my lungs in pain. But they broke it. After that they put me in plastic cuffs, as tightly as they possibly could, and wouldn’t loosen them for at least an hour no matter how loud I screamed or how much the other prisoners begged them to help me. For a while everyone in the arrest van was chanting ‘take them off, take them off’ but they just ignored them…”

On March 17, several hundred members of Occupy Wall Street celebrated the six month anniversary of their first camp at Zuccotti Park by a peaceful reoccupation of the park—a reoccupation broken up within hours by police with 32 arrests. Later that evening a break-away group moved north, finally establishing itself on the southern end of Union Square, two miles away, even sleeping in park—though the city government soon after decided to defy a century-old tradition and begin closing the park every night just so they would not be able to establish a camp there. Since then, occupiers have taken advantage of past judicial rulings to continue to sleep on sidewalks outside the park, and more recently, on Wall Street itself.

During this time, peaceful occupiers have been faced with continual harassment arrests, almost invariably on fabricated charges (“disorderly conduct,” “interfering with the conduct of a police officer”—the latter a charge that can be leveled, for instance, against those who try to twist out of the way when an officer is hitting them.) I have seen one protestor at Union Square arrested, by four officers using considerable force, for sitting on the ground to pet a dog; another, for wrapping a blanket around herself (neither were given warnings; but both behaviors were considered too close to “camping”); a third, an ex-Marine, for using obscene language on the Federal steps. Others were reportedly arrested on those same steps for singing a satirical version of the “Officer Krumpke” song from West Side Story. Almost no march goes by without one or two protestors, at least, being hurled against vehicles or have their heads bashed against the ground while being arrested for straying off the sidewalk. The message here is clear. Law has nothing to do with it. Anyone who engages in Occupy Wall Street-related activity should know they can be arrested, for virtually any reason, at any time.

Many of these arrests are carried out in such a way to guarantee physical injury. The tone was set on that first night of March 17, when my friend Eileen’s wrists were broken; others suffered broken fingers, concussions, and broken ribs. Again, this was on a night where OWS actions were confined to sitting in a park, playing music, raising one or two tents, and marching down the street. To give a sense of the level of violence protestors were subjected to, during the march north to Union Square, we saw the first major incident of window-breaking in New York. The window in question was broken not by protestors, but by police—using a protestor’s head. The victim in this case was a street medic named José (owing to the likelihood of physical assault and injuries from police, OWSers in New York as elsewhere have come to carry out even the most peaceful protests accompanied by medics trained in basic first aid.) He offered no resistance.

Here is a video of the incident. The window-breaking begins at 3:45.

Police spokesmen later claimed this incident was a response to a bottle that was hurled at a police vehicle used to transport arrestees. Such claims are made almost automatically when videos appear documenting police assaults on non-violent protestors, yet, despite the presence of cameras everywhere, including those wielded by the police themselves, no actual documentation of any such claims ever seems to appear. This is no exception. In fact numerous witnesses confirmed this simply isn’t true, and even if a bottle had been thrown at an armored vehicle, not even the police have suggested they had any reason to believe the medic whose head was smashed into the window was the one who threw it.

Arbitrary violence is nothing new. The apparently systematic use of sexual assault against women protestors is new. I’m not aware of any reports of police intentionally grabbing women’s breasts before March 17, but on March 17 there were numerous reported cases, and in later nightly evictions from Union Square, the practice became so systematic that at least one woman told me her breasts were grabbed by five different police officers on a single night (in one case, while another one was blowing kisses.) The tactic appeared so abruptly, is so obviously a violation of any sort of police protocol or standard of legality, that it is hard to imagine it is anything but an intentional policy.

For obvious reasons, most of the women who have been victims of such assaults have been hesitant to come forward. Suing the city is a miserable and time-consuming task and if a woman brings any charge involving sexual misconduct, they can expect to have their own history and reputations—no matter how obviously irrelevant—raked over the coals, usually causing immense damage to their personal and professional life. The threat of doing so operates as a very effective form of intimidation. One exception is Cecily McMillan, who was not only groped but suffered a broken rib and seizures during her arrest on March 17, and held incommunicado, denied constant requests to see her lawyer, for over 24 hours thereafter. Shortly after release from the hospital she appeared on Democracy Now! And showed part of a handprint, replete with scratch-marks, that police had left directly over her right breast. (She is currently pursuing civil charges against the police department):

I’d like to emphasize this because when I first mention this, the usual reaction, from reporters or even some ordinary citizens, is incredulity. ‘Surely this must be a matter of a few rogue officers!’ It is difficult to conceive of an American police commander directly telling officers to grope women’s breasts—even through indirect code words. But we know that in other countries, such things definitely happen. In Egypt, for example, there was a sudden spate of sexual assaults by security forces against protestors in November and December 2011, and followed a very similar pattern: while women activists affirmed there had been beatings, but relatively few specifically sexual assaults during the height of the protests, starting in November, there were dozens of reports of women being groped or stripped while they were being beaten. The level of the violence in Egypt may have been more extreme, but the circumstances were identical: an attempt to revive a protest movement through re-occupation is met by a sudden ratcheting up of tactics by the security forces, and in particular, the sudden dramatic appearance of a tactic of sexual attacks on women. It is hard to imagine in either case it was a coincidence. In Egypt, no serious observer is even suggesting that it was.

Of course we cannot how such decisions are made, or conveyed; in fact, most of us find it unpleasant even to contemplate the idea of police officials ordering or encouraging sexual assault against the very citizens they are sworn to protect. But this seems to be precisely what is happening here.
For many, the thought of police officials ordering or condoning sexual assault—even if just through a nod or a wink—seems so shocking that absolute proof would be required. But is it really so out of character? As Naomi Wolf has recently reminded us, the US security apparatus has long “used sexual humiliation as a tool of control.” Any experienced activist is aware of the delight police officers so often take in explaining just how certainly they will be raped if placed in prison. Strip searches—which the Supreme Court has recently ruled can be deployed against any citizen held for so much as a traffic violation—are often deployed as a tool of humiliation and punishment. And one need hardly remark on well-documented practices at Guantanamo, Bagram, or Abu Ghraib. Why target women in particular? No doubt it’s partly simply the logic of the bully, to brutalize those you think are weak, and more easily traumatized. But another reason is, almost certainly, the hope of provoking violent reactions on the part of male protestors. I myself well remember a police tactic I observed more than once during the World Economic Forum demonstrations in New York in 2002: a plainclothes officer would tackle a young female marcher, without announcing of who they were, and when one or two men would gallantly try to come to her assistance, uniforms would rush in and arrest them for “assaulting an officer.” The logic makes perfect sense to someone with military background. Soldiers who oppose allowing a combat role for women almost invariably say they do so not because they are afraid women would not behave effectively in battle, but because they are afraid men would not behave effectively in battle if women were present—that is, that they would become so obsessed with the possibility of women in their unit being captured and sexually assaulted that they would behave irrationally. If the police were trying to provoke a violent reaction on the part of studiously non-violent protestors, as a way of justifying even greater brutality and felony charges, this would clearly be the most effective means of doing so.

There’s a good deal of anecdotal evidence that would tend to confirm that this is exactly what they are trying to do. One of the most peculiar incidents took place on a recent march in New York where police seem to have simulated such an assault, arresting a young women who most activists later concluded was probably an undercover officer (no one had seen her before or has seen her since), then ostentatiously groping her as she was handcuffed. Reportedly, several male protestors had to physically restrained (by other protestors) from charging in to help her.

Why is all this not a national story? Back in September, when the now famous Tony Bologna arbitrarily maced several young women engaged in peaceful protest, the event became a national news story. In March, even while we were still hearing heated debates over a single incident of window-breaking that may or may not have been by an OWS activist in Oakland four months earlier, no one seems to have paid any significant attention to the first major incident of window-breaking in New York—even though the window was broken, by police, apparently, using a non-violent protestors’ head!

I suspect one reason so many shy away from confronting the obvious is because it raises extremely troubling questions about the role of police in American society. Most middle class Americans see the primary role of police as maintaining public order and safety. Instances when police are clearly trying to foment violence and disorder for political purposes so fly in the face of everything we have been taught that our instinct is to tell ourselves it isn’t happening: there must have been some provocation, or else, it must have just been individual rogue cops. Certainly not something ordered by the highest echelons. But here we have to remember the police are an extremely top-down, centralized organization. Uniformed officers simply cannot behave in ways that flagrantly defy the law, in full public view, on an ongoing basis, without having at least tacit approval from those above.

In this case, we also know precisely who those superiors are. The commander of the First Precinct, successor to the disgraced Tony Bologna, is Captain Edward J. Winski, whose officers patrol the Financial District (that is, when those very same officers are not being paid directly by Wall Street firms to provide security, which they regularly do, replete with badges, uniforms, and weapons). Winski often personally directs groups of police attacking protestors:

Winsky’s superior is Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, former director of global security of the Wall Street firm Bear Stearns:

And Kelly’s superior, in turn, is Mayor Michael Bloomberg – the well-known former investment banker and Wall Street magnate. The 11th richest man in America, he has referred to the New York City Police Department as his own personal army:

One of the great themes of Occupy Wall Street, of course, is the death of US democracy—the near-total capture of our political system by Wall Street firms and the financial power of the 1%. In the beginning the emphasis was on political corruption, the fact that both parties so beholden to the demands of Wall Street and corporate lobbyists that working within the political system to change anything has become simply meaningless. Recent events have demonstrated just how much deeper the power of money really goes. It is not just the political class. It is the very structure of American government, starting with the law and those who are sworn to enforce it—police officers who, as even this brief illustration makes clear, are directly in the pay of and under the orders of Wall Street executives, and who, as a result, are willing to systematically violate their oaths to protect the public when members of that public have the temerity to make a public issue out of exactly these kind of arrangements.

As Gandhi revealed, non-violent protest is effective above all because it reveals how power really operates: it lays bare the violence it is willing to unleash on even the most peaceful citizens when they dare to challenge its moral legitimacy. And by doing so, it reveals the true moral bankruptcy of those who claim authority to rule us. Occupy Wall Street has demonstrated this time and time again. What the current spate of assaults shows is just how low, to what levels of utter moral degradation, such men are really willing to sink.

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  1. Simon Bowel

    Well, incredulity aside, African Americans, the poor, or homeless people have stories to tell, but since many of them are either part of the prison industrial complex or otherwise exist off the media grid, the brutality is ignored. The raging drug war is a testament to the police state, the violence alone is taboo but gets good coverage from the smaller, lower power outlets. The Financial District Stormtroopers are trained to do damage, protesting isn’t tolerated any more – new laws in the past 12 months are aimed directly at dissent.

  2. kevinearick

    Don’t stand in front of a loaded gun and expect a happy outcome…the problem is being addressed at the pension level.

    1. Christophe

      Gandhi did. And very few people are as cynical as you to suggest he made the wrong choice.

      Also, your pension mediator is far too permeable a shield to hide behind in the face of those loaded guns.

          1. Soullite522@msn.com

            If his strategy ‘worked’ as well as you like to pretend it did, then you wouldn’t still be citing the same guy more than 50 years later. you’d have some more recent examples to offer up.

            How well did ‘peace’ really work in Egypt? They’re still a military police state. The only difference is that now, the Army rules directly instead of hiding behind Mubarak.

          2. Capo Regime

            Lambert, you are on to something profound about American society today–apparently only saints can stand against power–if a person has been late on tax payments, bad credit record, drinking issues, he or she loses all manner of legitimacy in the eyes of many. Remarks like the person saying Ghandi was a racist or Shakespear was white or Cervantes was an imperialist, Rosa Parks was trained seem to in the minds of many delegitimize anything they may have said or done. Its the language of the powerful I suppose that smelly protestors without jobs, or ignorant or jealous (insert term here) are just jealous or misfits…..

            As an aside, Grants Memoirs are masterful. Drunk and deadbeat that he may have been he had a great mind and well understood the world. Damn good general too! Much maligned….

          3. ssj12

            Grant deserved the same fate as Lincoln. Screw the 12-step. His atrocities during the illegal, unconsititutional war against the people should have left him hanging from a tree.

        1. Skwirl

          Gandhi had demons and regrets, all people do. Aside from the ad hominem you’re making, what is your citation? The pull quotes from his autobiography that are usually used for the “Gandhi beat his wife” allegation are really only compelling in a truthiness, sour grapes kind of way in my opinion, but if you cite, people can decide for themselves.

    2. C

      Umm, no. No it is not.

      Yes some Wall St. Elites are now registering their unhappiness with bad financing but that does not solve the problems of police brutality being highlighted here nor does it solve the fundamental imbalance of power that it purpetuates.

      As to not standing in front of a loaded gun. If the guns come to you what should you do? Stay home? Don’t speak out? Avoid becoming involved? Pray for a miracle?

    3. Justin

      I too believe that it is in fact the victim of a crime that is at fault. Oh wait, i’m not shitty asshole, so no I don’t.

  3. Lambert Strether

    Contact Information for the First Precinct:

    Deputy Inspector Edward J. Winski [mentioned above]
    Crime Statistics
    16 Ericsson Place, New York, NY, 10013
    (212) 334-0611

    Precinct: (212) 334-0611
    Community Affairs: (212) 334-0640
    Crime Prevention: (212) 334-0603
    Domestic Violence: (212) 334-0618
    Youth Officer: (212) 334-0618
    Auxiliary Coordinator: (212) 334-0640
    Detective Squad: (212) 334-0635

    Community Council

    President: Anthony Notaro
    Meetings: The precinct community council meetings are held at 6:30 PM on the last Thursday of each month at the First Precinct ( 16 Ericsson Pl ). There are no meetings held July / August.

    It does seem odd that the Community Council doesn’t meet in the summer. Here’s an interview with “community leader” and Council chair Anthony Notaro (of Technologent*). Interestingly, Notaro is also on the board of the Battery Park City Authority ($27 million).

    I guess you’d think that community leaders and the police community council would have some interest in sexual assaults against young women as a policing strategy. At a minimum, the “crime statistics” should fully reflect the reality on the ground. But perhaps I’m not cynical enough. (And note that I don’t provide the contact information as an ending point, but only as a starting point.)

    UPDATE * Adding, whose PR department might have something to say about this.

    1. bhikshuni

      Nice work, Lambert.

      Time for protesters to use a buddy system and also go to Unifem and also file some cases in the Hague. Even if American barbarians don’t sign those conventions, it makes the stakes more personal for Bloomberg et al.

    2. LucyLulu

      Double good detective work, Strether.

      Technologent’s website also proudly cites its recognition as being re-certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise. The logo is plastered all over its website and it considers the certification one of its prime marketing tools.

      A Women’s Business Enterprise that advocates groping by NY’s finest? I think not! Oooooh, this should be fun.


  4. Kenni Rodgers

    Come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together and rent or purchase a massive plastic shredder. Get approval first from localities, and then shred all your cards. No groping, no broken bones, resistance is power. Go ‘ Murica!

    1. bluntobj

      Opting out is indeed the only safe path to resistance. The rise of this lifestyle is underway now, and you can glimpse bits of this zeitgeist in stories such as a trend away from keeping money in banks, people living without money, leaving their high end corporate jobs, moving out of high tax states or properties, microfarming, etc.

      Deprive the state and its corporate cronies your investment and retail dollars, minimize your taxable income through downsizing job and lifestyle, and learn how to run your life as minimally as you can.

      You should be bitter indeed, and the golden age of the 90’s never looked so good; in order to continue living you must acknowledge that these days are gone, and they won’t return in your lifetime. Opting out is the peaceful expression of that bitterness.

      1. R Foreman

        They’re making it easy for us since there is very little credit being extended right now.

        I think the PTB are in a state of semi-shock due to that output gap problem. There is simply no way to reconcile maintaining the current level of debt while avoiding deflation, except through perpetual management of money supplies (ie creating fictional entities which buy our debt). Scrapping the debt-based money system is another solution, but somehow I don’t see the debt merchants opting for that.

      2. Tim

        Opting out may be the only *safe* option.

        Two comments. Your assumption that it is safe is highly questionable.

        Promoting justice by staying safe at all costs is … well, no thinking person needs me to put a label on that idea for them.

    2. Maureen Mower

      I would gladly do that (card shredding), except I opted out of credit cards years ago. I do have a debit card with a Visa logo, but they don’t make anything off of that from my end – only the processing fees they charge the merchants.

  5. Franciscan

    We have now a surveillance society in which our every move is monitored, tracked, re0corded, and scrutinized by authorities, including postin’ to our favority blogs. Local police force militarization nationwide, case where Fatherland security essentially deputizes the local and state forces. Was it different in Germany in the 30s? The peaceful protestors are now the ones our brilliant leadership has decided we need to be protected from.

  6. Pitchfork

    David Graeber,

    Any context for why Eileen remains anonymous and her story unreported (outside of the blogosphere)?

    In other words, this seems like a pretty simple to understand horror story that would at least make page A22 or a snippet on the news, no? Even if the reporter/producers did their he-said she-said dance it would still be pretty interesting to learn that police were breaking wrists, etc.

    1. David Graeber

      To be honest my first impulse was to call a sympathetic Times reporter. He said he was going to see if he could spin a story out of it. Apparently his editors told him it wasn’t news.

      1. C

        How about Matt Taibbi? He has shown sympathy for OWS in the past and is no fan of Bloomberg. You might also try the NewYork Magazine which just ran a long piece about problems with the NYPD.

      2. Maureen Mower

        I would also suggest contacting either Rachel Maddow or Ed Schultz of MSNBC. The network itself is one of the few that actually does display a somewhat “liberal” bent, and those two hosts in particular have been the strongest in regard to reporting on the OWS protests in general. Rachel, in particular, would be sensitive to this particular issue, being a woman herself.

        1. deb martin

          problem is, maddow, ed show and matt tiabi are all so famous now there is NO way to break throtugh to them. their facebook pages and msnbc websites are all guarded well and insulated. i tried TWO YEARS AGO to contact them about king rick perry here in texas, with MANY links to local news stories of perry OPENLY violating the law and acting like a tyrant. flash forward to today, and perry’s been THOROUGHLY EXPOSED since his disaster of debate performances. i did have an idea however, current tv which is owned by al gore seems eager to jump into the presidential fray. the morning shows are bill press and stephanie miller, and BOTH have call in shows that are easily accessible. the evening has jennifer granholm and eliot spizter who also both seem approachable. the other thing to consider is to contact CSPAN through fb or twitter, because any story which generates HEAVY social media traffic can become the topic of washington journal. best of luck, i think its disgusting what PIGS these police are. using RAPE is and has always been a CONTROL TOOL used by military and police.

    2. Tim

      “this seems like a pretty simple to understand horror story that would at least make page A22 or a snippet on the news, no?”

      The answer to your “no?” is: No.

      People with press passes have been–violently if necessary–kept away from many organized police assaults on Occupiers. News helicopters have been denied access to the relevant airspace during the paramilitary incursions on peaceful camps or crowds.

      Big media belongs to the 1%. The NYPD belongs to the 1%. No scrap of honor remains anywhere in that department. And no scrap of credibility remains for the notion that something awful couldn’t have happened if Big Corporate Media didn’t report it–whether as breaking (bones) news or after the fact.

  7. Gil Gamesh

    Isn’t Kelly contemplating a run for mayor, when the Plutocrat retires?

    You know this country is in real trouble when cops treat white folks as though they were people of color, or the homeless.

    Revolution, people, is the only answer.

    1. Indicus

      So called liberal mayors are the worst, they’ll work sneaky. Legitimize the “proper” protestor. while cordoning off and providing the beat down for unapproved agitators. Meanwhile, tanks are paraded about town.

        1. LucyLulu

          Bloomberg is anti-gun. Only liberals oppose the right of every citizen to carry their choice of weapons, and “stand their ground” to kill anybody who they claim has threatened* them. Therefore Bloomberg is a liberal.

          *threaten to be legally defined by person who remains standing

    2. chitown2020

      I have witnessed and heard many stories about white Cops routinely provoking hostility towards themselves by making inappropriate remarks, harassing and use excessive force towards white people. Raiding homes and holding people at gun point and finding nothing. Cops holding tasers to young peoples chests in routine traffic stops. Cops slamming white youth to the ground and dragging them on the ground for no apparent reason. Myself and others have witnessed black people provoking white people into altercations in white neighborhoods and then they call the cops in to save them by saying they were called the n word. There is a lot of b.s. going on under the radar. I come from a long line of policeman in my family. All retired now but are not digging what they are hearing.

    3. Strtos

      It is precisely because Euro-Americans stood by for decades and let other Americans of color and the homeless get brutalized that they are on the receiving end of brutality today. To protect yourself, you have to have the social conciousness to protect others first.

      Actually boycotts and divestments are more effective than bloody revolutions. Revolutions kill too many people and spawn post revolution tyrants such as Napoleon, Mao, Castro and Mugabe.

  8. F. Beard

    I’m tempted to say TINA to hauling those thugs in garbage carts (specially built for the purpose?) to guillotines.

    I suggest the PTB start thinking of alternatives lest the 99% do that thinking for them. I suggest Professor Steve Keen’s “A Modern Jubilee”.

    1. F. Beard

      Also, it occurs to me that there is no escape for the PTB anywhere in the world should they lose legitimacy in the US.

    2. mary

      @F. Beard There is indeed a name for
      those garbage hauling carts:
      A tumbril (n.) a dung cart used for
      carrying manure, now associated with
      the transport of prisoners to the
      guillotine during the French Revolution
      . You can thank Alex Cockburn over at
      “Counterpunch”. He’s a class act.

    3. bluntobj

      Keen’s Jubilee is a good solution. Worth watching his presentation on the subject.

  9. Inve

    Graeber’s argument that the police are trying to get men to run to women’s rescue makes sense to me. A lieutenant invited me, completely unprovoked, to punch him (!) Surreal, strange, awkward in all the worst ways. I was at Zucotti, watching Rev. Billy, taking pictures. Anyway, my husband was with me — and the white shirt must have wanted a response from me, then my husband, so he could arrest us. He also taunted us, calling us uneducated. It was an awkward attempt to provoke, and I’m not dumb enough to fall for it. What we seem to have is a police force that is actively trying to put citizens in harm’s way. Forget about “to serve and protect.” It’s to provoke, grope, and billy club.

    1. Dan Kervick

      Perhaps the tactic is supposed to produce a dual effect on males: If they do rush to the woman’s aid, they are then arrested. But if they don’t, they feel humiliated and emasculated. Either way, it’s a victory for the authorities.

      1. F. Beard

        Or perhaps they coolly memorize the cop’s appearance and serve up a very cold dish of revenge later.

  10. Ned Ludd

    After reading this, I read an article at Salon about the May Day protests. Natasha Lennard, who wrote the article, notes that “the police have changed their tactics since the early days of Occupy.” Instead of mass arrests, police are making examples out of individuals.

    Snatch-and-grab police tactics intimidate crowds, but do not lead to the sort of dramatic mass arrest scenes that capture national headlines; it’s a more insidious form of crowd control. It is worth adding, however, that there was no shortage of police aggression: At one point I saw firsthand as a marcher was grabbed by police in the Lower East Side, his face slammed to the street. When pulled up and taken away, officers covered his face with his T-shirt so onlookers could not see the blood.

    The police are making examples out of individual protesters. They want to send a message – if you protest, if you speak out, if you dare to disrupt business-as-usual, this is what will happen to you.

    1. R Foreman

      ..and yet we know that can’t possibly happen, since the protestors are (usually) far more numerous than the police.

  11. Susan the other

    By their dog-pack behavior, no offense to dogs, the police who mechanically collude with each other to grab peaceful protestors and injure them physically, or humiliate them with their tactics, are following the orders from the man wearing the throbbing necktie. The only reason there isn’t outright murder, a total pogrom on protest, is because the necktie is wedged between, and protected by, a still-rational seeming mayor and a guy named Winsky. Or?

  12. mary

    @Franciscan The present American
    oligarchy has nothing whatsoever to do
    with what became German fascism in the
    1930’s. All across the blogosphere the
    people citing Nazism and fascism are
    98% American; the American fascination
    with “1930’s Germany” is fatuous, lazy
    and utterly ill-informed. I’m not in
    the least “trolling” here, someone has
    to point it out. Either read history or
    find another lazy, theatrical buzzword.

    1. chitown2020

      Well Mary, if you are by no means trolling here then, you really should definitely put down the books you have been reading, they are outdated and misinforming you. The comparisons to Nazi Germany and what has been occurring here in America with this Government are mirroring each other. Do you know anything about the real history of the Bush family? Do you ever watch the History Channel or the Military Channels documentaries about Hitler and the Nazis? Getting people to believe BIG LIES is how the same group hiding behind the scenes of the crimes way back are pulling this off today. Sadly, most fail to see what is right in front of their eyes.

      1. Jessica

        There are many differences between the situation in the US now and that in Germany during the rise of Naziism.
        Here are two that could easily make tyranny in America look different from that in Germany in the 1920s-1940s.
        1) Germany had no strong tradition of elections, either as a means of expressing the popular will or of stage managing it. The US does.
        2) The elite in Germany was damaged by their loss in WW1 and under genuine threat from a powerful left. So they were forced to gamble on outsourcing the violence to the Nazis, who were not part of the old elite and not under their complete control. In the US now, the elite is politically thoroughly dominant and has complete control over the use of violence by agencies such as NYPD.
        I agree that we are on a trajectory toward brutal tyranny and have gone a ways along that path. But comparisons with previous tyrannies can be misleading.
        In fact, I would argue that already we are in worse shape than we would have been because too many of us expected it to come from the “Right” rather than from the Democrats. This is one reason why Obama has been such an effective agent for dismantling democracy.

    2. Woody in Florida

      Seriously Mary…if there is a real difference between Nazi Germany and the path the U.S. is on, don’t just say everyone else is stupid, tell us what you think it is.

      1. pws

        Probably “mary” is taking a break from posting at Stormfront to troll this blog.

        1. mary

          @pws Stormfront? Seriously? I just
          looked it up. I didn’t even know what is
          was – but you do. I reiterate: anyone
          who finds reason to compare 2012 USA
          with Nazi Germany is just wasting time.
          List your comparisons please: Let’s have a
          look at your historical(hysterical)
          insight. What a load of barmy.

          1. hyperkinetic

            Mary, I suggest you first read of the rise of the Nazi party and Hitler:


            Then read ‘Rise of American Fascism’:


            There are far more things in common than there are different, but it’s obvious to anyone paying attention where America is headed. The Constitution is being shredded. Extrajudicial killing of citizens is considered acceptable. We’re living in a surveillance state that puts both the SS and KGB to shame. Now more than ever, the quote “Those who do not study history, are doomed to repeat it.” applies.

      2. mary

        @Woody in Florida Go back and read my
        post to Franciscan. I did not use the
        adjective “stupid”.

        Your misrepresentation of what I wrote
        is the end of the story friend.

        Have a little respect.

        1. Anon@mous

          Your refusal to elaborate on your supposed insights into the history of the third reich suggest you are simply engaging in obfuscation.

          Answer the question: What facts specificially, preferably sighting your references, do you possess that invalidates the comparison between the current political fiasco and the Nazi movement in 1930’s Germany? No ad homenim, no skirting the issue. Here is your chance to prove yourself, unhindered.

      1. punchnrun

        Yes, the actions are designed to provoke anger and attempts at retribution, which are the excuse needed for further “security precautions.” Patience, persistence and willingness to pay the price are the most effective weapons at our disposal.

        1. Soullite

          Then you’re damned either way. Because nobody is going to follow a bunch of cowards who stand by and watch women get sexually abused, either.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Hah, this is as new business for a manufacturer of S&M gear! Bras with spikes, a re-purposing of the outsized spikes put on decorative dog collars and wrist bands.

      Wear them like Brunhilde’s battle bras, on the outside. And I bet they’d sell like hotcakes

    2. Jane

      Reminds me of something I read probably a couple of decades ago, that girl gang members in major cities were taking short pieces of rigid pipe, fitting broken razor blades to the interior, and then inserting them vaginally in order to deal with wanna-be rapists.

  13. YesMaybe


    Your hypothesis of them wanting to provoke men into violence makes some kind of sense to me, but I thought i’d share what first occurred to me and still seems to make more sense to me.

    I figured the idea is simply to discourage women from participating at these protests. The reason for that is that photos and videos of police violence tend to result in worse PR when the victims are women (or children, or the elderly, etc.). If they can reduce the number of women there, they have more freedom to step up the level of force. Of course, that itself is aimed at discouraging participation overall (by men and women). So it seems to me that groping women protesters would serve their purposes in various ways: (a) it’s a less risky way to discourage the women (in spite of the low risks for the police with violence against protesters, it’s still riskier than something like groping), and (b) inasmuch as it’s successful at discouraging women, it makes it easier to then use violence against the remaining protesters.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Violence advocacy by either side discourages participation from “all walks of life.” It’s also a “self-licking ice cream cone” as both sides cycle upward in intensity (structurally, like the Pentagon and its enemies of choice).

  14. LAS

    I’m sorry this is happening but not surprised.

    “As Gandhi revealed, non-violent protest is effective above all because it reveals how power really operates: it lays bare the violence it is willing to unleash … just how low, to what levels of utter moral degradation, such men are really willing to sink.”

    That paragraph on Gandi maybe went too far. If we don’t believe in diplomacy making an appearance at some level then peaceful protest is nothing but an invitation to murder. I hope it is not that.

    1. R Foreman

      Well at the most basic level, this is seen by the 1% as a slave revolt. Those damn slaves want a bunch of free houses, and they want to change the money system. How often do masters hold diplomatic discussions with their slaves? Did the Romans ever negotiate with runaway slaves?

    2. Christophe

      I do not believe the author was precluding “diplomacy making an appearance” eventually, but it is dependent upon having negotiating leverage. How best is that to be gained? Mr. Graeber suggests using non-violent protest to “reveal how power really operates.” Do you have an alternate pre-diplomacy recommendation?

      1. David Graeber

        Yes in a way I’m saying all you folk out here have to be part of the negotiating process too. We need some force behind us. Force of public outrage can be powerful, but the story has to go out. Please do repost this wherever possible.

        1. Lambert Strether

          FWIW, my totally unsubstantiated theory of the blogosphere that there are about 10,000 small blogs of about 2000 unique readers (small, like my home blog, not with a million readers a month like NC). 10,000 * 2000 = 20,000,000. Cut that by a half for dupes, and 10,000,000 circulation in toto. That’s about twice the size of the WSJ. Editorial messaging is not centralized, but that is as it should be. Ceaseless repetition will get the word out. 2% of all readers comment, and 1% of all readers post. So that’s 10,000,000 * 1% = 100,000 trusted influencers and that, again, is not a neglible number.

    3. Antifa

      Gandhi in 1940:

      “Whatever Hitler may ultimately prove to be, we know what Hitlerism has come to mean, It means naked, ruthless force reduced to an exact science and worked with scientific precision. In its effect it becomes almost irresistible.
      Hitlerism will never be defeated by counter-Hitlerism. It can only breed superior Hitlerism raised to nth degree. What is going on before our eyes is the demonstration of the futility of violence as also of Hitlerism.

      “What will Hitler do with his victory? Can he digest so much power? Personally he will go as empty-handed as his not very remote predecessor Alexander. For the Germans he will have left not the pleasure of owning a mighty empire but the burden of sustaining its crushing weight.”

      Sound like America 2012 to you?

      1. Lambert Strether

        No, because the “scientific precision” part is lacking (as it was in fact for Hitler). For example, the giant NSA server farm in Utah is horrible and grotesque, but 70% of all software projects fail, and this is a very difficult project. I don’t think there’s an inner part of the State where everything gets super-competent all of a sudden, any more than there is in the corporate cube. There’s every possibility that project will be a protracted #FAIL, like the replacement for the FAA’s computer systems, rather than a success, like so many NASA and NOAA projects where actual scientists were involved. So, chin up!

        1. b.

          Lambert, I sympathize, but consider the possibility that you are wrong, and that you are peddling the medical version of hopium. The question is never, will this or that specific effort fail. The question is always, how are power, momentum, incentives aligned. One NSA effort might fail, the NSA might fail, but the lesson here is that they have the resources to waste on trying, because they still extract the wealth.

          It does not matter whether inbred wealth is wrong in believing that this, time, it *will* be different, and this time, the current elite will be able to entrench, and build the perfect power structure that eluded their predecessors.

          Because, one, it does not matter whether we believe, or even know, they will fail, it matters whether they believe they can succeed. This is sufficient for mayhem and desparation on a scale we have not witnessed in recent times.

          Because, two, it might take them two or three generations to fail – see the politbureau.

          Because, three, their failure might well be apocalyptic by design, see Germany 1945 for a pre-MAD version before nuclear means of Goetterdaemmerung became available. If we have any reason to fear Technology or Knowledge of Mass Destruction in the form of Individuals of Mass Destruction, surely we have to start with fearing the powerful. The leader of *any* nuclear armed nation is much more likely to detonate a nuke than any terrorist.

          Because, four, they might fail along with all of us by running the clock – between resource depeletion and global warning, our generation might not reasonably claim the luxury of passing the responsibility to the next generation in line. This is the world we made – it is our world, it is our time.

          Because, five, it is not the NSA that fails, or the elites, it is we, because, however the elected representatives and salaried retainers of government might fail their duties and oaths, we are, yet, still living in an society where things would change if enough of us wanted them to change.

          There is an Internet Fallacy closely related to the flawed reasoning behind NRA-style support for the 2nd amendment, namely that there is a device, a tool, that proves the great equalizer, that will somehow remove the necessity to address a problem the hard way. No, information does not want to be free, and in fact, it does not exist or proliferate at all until somebody makes it happen. No, our drones will not somehow level the playing field against their drones, just like any gun you might legally or illegally own will make up for their assault rifles and sniper rifles and APCs. No, your camera will not somehow turn their surveillance into a tool for transparency, or match their ability to propagandize and manipulate and obfuscate by distributing images selectively, by broadcasting edited images, or by simply using their superior bandwidth. No, your darknets and p2p hacks and home-made attempts to match their ability to secure and distribute images will not withstand their ability to jam and hack and block. Anonymous will not save the world, neither will masks licensed by Warner Brothers, or iPhone manufactured in China, or wireless routers with NSA backdoors and government-reviewed firmware.

          Blogs carry an excess representation of techno cornucopians of all flavors. From such confidence complacency breeds. What if the elites are right? What if this time it is different, except for the imbalance of power. At the end of the day, what changes the world is that too many stand up to make it happen. If you intend to wait for the NSA to fail at your expense, it might well not do so during your children’s lifetime. Is that how you want to play the system?

  15. Ishmael

    African Americans, the poor, or homeless people have stories to tell, —

    Oh give me a break, it is always only that group being harassed. One time right after I purchased a new foreign sports car I was giving it a spin. Pulled over by a police officer. I got out wearing a pair of torn jeans and bathroom thongs. The officers first words were who owns that car. I am kind of like I do. Well I got a reckless driving ticket even though I was on private property. When I took it to traffic court and the officer testified I caught him in a lie and infact through interrogation proved it. The judge got so mad his response was, “I do not know what you were doing but I am sure it was against the law” and found me guilty. So much for being innocent until proven guilty.

    I have had police officers pull guns on me for no reason and throw me in jail for charges that were later dropped. Why, young white male who does not conform to how they think you should act. All of this comes as a surprise to you.

    Let me tell you a secret, there is only one thing that the govt is good at and that is killing people! Even through most people would consider me very well off, I avoid the police all the time.

    1. chris

      When I was a long-haired 14 year old (early 70’s) I was arrested in Florida for playing pinball. The officer said I was gambling (playing a coin operated device that offered “rewards” for winning – free games and extra balls (eyes roll)). He handcuffed me and threw me into the back of his cruiser. He refused to tell my plder sister and her friend, my chaperones (heh) where he was taking me and when they tried to follow him he used evasive driving (jumping over medians, u-turns and that like which would have gotten them arrested if they’d tried the same) to lose them. Worse yet, he did not take me to the police station, he took me into a dark Marina and left me in the back seat while he boarded a a house boat where he had a tete-a-tete ( I learned later) with his police chief. I was beyond alarmed. By the time we got to the station my sister and her friend were already there. Still they threw me into a holding cell. When my parents were finally contacted I was released without charge, pending review… in the “custody of my 16 yr old sister (ha). I guess my dad’s status as professor emeritus at a local college gave them pause. That the judge who looked at my file attended the same church and was a family friend didn’t help there cause much either and the whole case was denied before I even went to court.

      A week later, the same cop was indicted for physically assaulting another 14 year old “hippie” kid who was (legally) hanging out at a pool hall. It could have been me.

      True story.

  16. JIm

    “As Gandhi revealed, non-violent protest is effective, above all because it reveals how power really operates: it lays bare the violence it is welling to unleash on even the most peaceful citizens when they dare to challenge its moral legitimacy. And by doing so it reveals the true moral bankruptcy of those who claim authority to rule us.”

    As the United States becomes more and more like a formal police state the organizing strategy and tactics of Solidarity in Poland may have some relevance. Our own increasingly authoritarian regime gradually instructs us as to the nuances of effective countermeasures.

    I believe(according to the writings of Lawrence Goodwyn in Breaking the Barrier: The Rise of Solidarity in Poland) that the guiding principle of Solidarity was ultimately negotiation to formulate a new national accord while continuing to practice non-violent resistance to the authoritarian state. (This, of course was a quite different strategy than, for example, recent suggestions of a more engaged withdrawal from the State.) As Solidarity struggled to create an independent social space(this space was not a gift– it had to be created by those who fought to create it) Solidarity increasingly verified itself as an institution which could protect its social space both physically and psychologically.

    The first political innovation of Solidarity was in August of 1980 which culminated in the creation of an independent social space. Their occupation strike in the Lenin Shipyard in the city of Gdansk(a huge organizational achievement where 16,000 individuals put down their tools) was an organized movement of assertion that protected activists from the violent police powers of the State. Such an occupation strike was partly, a defensive way of assertion that protected protestors from violent police power. But it was also offensive. Their inter factory strike committee was a mechanism of internal communication that offered the possibility of bringing every individual willing to participate on stage in a dialogue with government power. This strike committee provided the means for the knowledge of more experienced activists to link with a politicized base (i.e. a self-created environment of information which lead to cohesive collective action.

    The second political innovation of Solidarity extended from September to December of 1980 during which time some 10 million Poles partook of the personal democratic experience of joining and acting within the public space. During this time Solidarity verified itself as an institution that afforded the Polish people protected social space where one could experience and experiment in creating ever-expanding democracy.

    The third political innovation of Solidarity operated from 1981 until martial law was declared and saw the creation and employment of a vast democratic infrastructure of the movement staffed by 40,000 people, who were paid out of local dues and responsible to the people who paid them. Out of this self-generated world came the Network and an evolving plan of self-management for the entire society.

    It is also important to remember that the strategic demands of Solidarity were not announced until after the strategic occupation. As it turned out, the necessary leverage had to first be created to in order to induce the State into negotiations.

  17. Schattschneider

    Right, don’t bother suing the city.


    Annex I is a model complaint form for communications under the Convention Against Torture, and that incident clearly meets the criteria for torture, both in terms of pain under restraint and in terms of sexual violence and humiliation. The US regime does not recognize the Committee Against Torture as a recourse for individuals – the better to torture its population – but the US govenment has to hold still for committee review, having signed the convention. Publicity will be as important as transmission to the council.

    This is the President’s job, to enforce this supreme law at all levels of government. But you don’t have a functioning state. The President’s running for Torturer-in-Chief. His administration can ignore everyone who points that out – except the Committee Against Torture.

  18. Diane U

    I was looking for an e-mail address for the mayor so I could tell him I wouldn’t be visiting NYC until this stops. Can’t find one but he has a Facebook page. I guess that’s a nice public way to let him know people are aware and choosing to spend their money elsewhere.

    Give Eileen my love and tell her I will pray for healing and safety for her. It’s the best I can think of from here in the midwest.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Why not call the NYC & Company, the (privatized) Office of Tourism? Here is the personnel and contact info:

      Emily K. Rafferty, President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Chairperson of the Board of Directors of NYC & Company**
      George Fertitta, CEO of NYC & Company
      Jane Reiss, Chief Marketing Officer
      Kevin Booth, Chief Financial Officer
      Kelly Curtin, SVP Membership and Destination Services
      Fred Dixon, SVP Tourism and Convention Development
      Bryan Grimaldi, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel
      Kimberly Spell, Chief Communications Officer
      Willy Wong, Chief Creative Officer

      NYC & Company
      810 Seventh Ave., 3 fl
      New York, NY 10019
      212-484-1200 tel

      NOTE ** Rafferty is not only President of the Met, she’s on the board of the NY Fed. Oh, and guess what? She’s a Democrat. BWA-HA-HA-HA!!!! I’d suggest calling her directly. Why not start at the top? Here’s the main number of the Met: 212-535-7710. Then again, at the Development Office, 212-570-3956, a human might actually pick up. You could then explain (if it’s the truth) that the scale of your giving will be determined by Rafferty’s actions with regard to police brutality toward women.

  19. Michael Fiorillo

    Let’s never forget the immortal words of Chicago’s first Mayor Daley, who said in the aftermath of the police riot at the’68 Democratic convention: “The police are not here to create disorder. They’re here to preserve disorder.”

    While it sounds like satire – and of course, it is that, too – it’s actually quite profound: the cops in fact are there to maintain what Lewis Mumford called the “organized chaos” of The Megamachine, his term for an apparatus based on centralized authority, remote control, violence and a death-oriented culture. Think the Egyptian pyramids, or the inverted pyramid of modern capitalism and finance.

    What is The Shock Doctrine, which we see playing out globally in many different theaters, if not the opportunistic manipulation of organized chaos?In my corner of the world, the NYC public schools, I see the intentional use of destabilization, combined with intimidation and fear, to effect a hostile takeover and privatization of public education. I’m sure NC readers could fill the comments section with their own versions of that pattern.

  20. Nora

    Thank you for shining a light on this issue. While sexual assault may not have been a systematic police tactic before March 17, there have certainly been incidents and images of police groping female arrestees from the beginning of OWS, such as this photo from Sept:


    While this may not be a national story, it is certainly a familiar cultural narrative–violence against women is so systemic in our popular culture that I’m afraid it no longer truly horrifies. I can’t even fathom how many images of commodified violence the average cop carries in his consciousness, and I think this context must make it easier for officers to institute the orders for harassment and intimidation.

    Protesters subjecting themselves to the brutality of the state so that everyone might see it clearly are committing a tremendous act of bravery. So thank you to the women and men of OWS who have placed their bodies in harm’s way so that we can all realize we are tacit enablers of our brave new police-state.

    1. David Graeber

      Thanks for saying.
      Let’s see what we can all do to make it more of a story.

  21. ik

    This looks like a good use for tumblr – ask people to post the results of the gentle treatment by the police of people expressing their first amendment rights…

    i release this idea into the wild in hopes someone besides me will set it up…

  22. steelhead23

    We need to demand an investigation. First, the purposeful infliction of sexual pain is a crime, it is not appropriate police behavior in any circumstance. The wrist incident is actually a form of force I would support – if force were necessary (it beats being shot) – but given the description Eileen provided, it was not necessary. Get an investigation going. Find a few “honorable” cops (its asking quite a bit for us to want them to testify against their comrades), get the goods on the leaders, and take them down. What is really scary here is that this kind of brutality toward women has a tendency to unhinge us guys. We could lose it, take a swing at a cop and end up dead – before our brains even kicked in. I tend to think that provoking such violence is precisely what they want to do. This makes me mad as hell.

  23. Bexxa

    I’ve been hearing of other sexual assaults of cops on protestors via OWS. Of course it’s a long used tactic of all cops against all other people, protestor or not. Have to say I’m kinda bothered by Graeber’s take on cops deliberately using sexual assault as a tactic not just to humiliate, terrify, shame, etc the women they are targeting, but Graeber seems to say, more IMPORTANTLY that the cops are using the sexual assaults as a MEANS to INCITE male protestors. Sure, maybe the cops are doing it for that reason as a systematic tactic to incite men, but somehow it just feels like sexist reasoning, even on Graeber’s part–the supposition that it’s more about the dudes than about the women. Like the men are the active ones…I don’t really know, this isn’t well thought out on my part, but I was kind of bothered by his take on it, if I’m interpreting it right. Like it’s not ENOUGH for the cops to be simply using age-old humiliating sexual assault, but it must be for some even MORE grandiose reason that involves men. (Who are supposedly reliably going to respond to sexual assault of women by jumping in–what about women jumping in to defend their peers? And what about the many many men in the world who are responsible for sexual assaults, including so many within OWS?) I think age-old sexual assault is an effective tactic by itself, and disgusting enough on its own and worthy of our outrage, without having to think there’s a further project behind it. Also, the part about the woman who was attacked by cops people are calling an undercover cop…that’s a real stretch. There’s plenty of people who show up for one protest, and after what happened to her, probably aren’t going to show up again. That’s the point.

    1. David Graeber

      So you’re saying that my trying to understand and explain the sexist reasoning behind sexist cops’ actions makes me sexist too? That seems a little unfair.

      One thing I think I’ve learned from feminist analysis is that sexist males do not, generally speaking, care that much what women think, they see women as objects and men as subjects. For instance, they want other men to think women are attracted to them, but they don’t care if the women actually _are_ attracted to them, just that they are willing to act as if they are. In endless ways, women become the media through which men fight power games with each other.

      You have to understand a system of violence and oppression in order to be able to fight it. I do think that a lot of sadistic cops enjoy brutalizing women, and I do think they want to drive women out of the prominent roles they have taken in the movement. But I also think that the people coordinating this as policy are trying to foment violence, and figure this is the easiest way to do so. This is not saying it’s what’s really important. It’s saying what’s really important to them, a group of people who, i am arguing, are a uniquely depraved collection of human beings who happen to be in charge of the monopoly of coercive force in this country.

      1. LeeAnne

        Thank you David for this fine article and for all your work. And, thanks to Yves for introducing you to this blog; I’ve personally benefitted beyond words. Sorry I couldn’t find these photos until this morning. I know its a little late in the thread but here goes.

        Yves pointed to these photos early on in the movement during the first demonstrations in late November, 2011. They were sickening then, and remain so. I actually believed the one where probably the most beautiful and vulnerable young lady among demonstrators is being molested by a gang of cops would go viral. Surprise!! nothing of the sort.

        The guy in white has been IDd as counter intelligence in addition to his NYPD leadership status as lieutenant or something like that. Notice he’s too old and clumsy to get his hand where he’s trying to go. But the younger cops get the message from his leadership. So, by the third photo, at least 4 cops have had their hands on her -and I might add its making me sick -literally -seeing much more detail than I did originally -to revisit these photos -they’ve earned the perception of cops as enemies of the people and corrupters of youth; their young recruits.

        Nothing new about NYPD sexual abuse and lust for violence against young women peacefully demonstrating. Clearly, cops are trained, supervised and approved in gang rape tactics. And this is only the tip of the iceberg -only what’s been captured on camera. Where are the judges watching out for the public when cops go out of control and off limits? Who’s letting these cops off? Who are they? Begin with the leadership of Bloomberg and Ray Kelly [being vetted to follow Bloomberg as mayor] -the guy who bragged he has in New York City the 4th largest military force in the world:




        scroll down to these photos to see the above in context:


        1. David Graeber

          Yipes, I saw like six people in those pics who are very good friends!
          Painful indeed.

  24. Maureen Mower

    As a woman, I’m not the least bit surprised about such sexual assault tactics being used. However, I do find myself wondering about something:

    There are tens of thousands of NYC cops. Most are decent men and women who swore to uphold the law, not to abuse peaceful protesters. I’m not denying that such things happen. Rather, I’m wondering if anyone is looking into how it happens, from a cop’s perspective.

    I mean, I know anyone can get tangled up in a power trip under the right circumstances, and I would not be surprised if the individual officer’s fear of becoming trapped among the protesters and perhaps being assaulted themselves doesn’t have a lot to do with some of their more brutal tactics as well. But for the most part, cops are just people, and they don’t go to work in the morning looking for ways they can screw the very population they are supposed to be protecting.

    So what turns a good cop into a thug? Is it a variation on the “mob mentality” – only with the “mob” being the boys in blue instead of the protesters? Or is there someone inside the department who is literally culling the herd of cops – looking for those who are more willing to follow both direct and indirect orders without questioning the ethics of it and assigning only those to this kind of duty?

    As outlined in the essay above, this could not happen on such a broad scale without at least some “wink and a nod” approval from the top. So who exactly is in charge of deciding which officers get this kind of duty, and how is that decision being reached?

    We need a whistleblower inside the NYPD I think!!

    1. Joe

      You ask a fair question about how does an officer get to the point where they assault an otherwise peaceful person, but we can’t take it for granted that cops are just regular folks with just a bit of training in their weapons and arrest procedures. Since the 1960s police have increasingly borrowed techniques and engagement considerations from the military. Since the 1980s, the Marines have actually started to take crowd-control lessons from agencies like the LAPD. Unsurprisingly, many military vets go on to be police officers. Add to that how historically policing in the USA originates in patrols meant to capture fugitive slaves, not provide the kind of safety-oriented assistance that middle-class people love to think the police are all about. It seems unlikely that brutal behavior is some kind of psychological deviance, but a well integrated if nonetheless dysfunctional facet of police culture.

      1. David Graeber

        Another factor is propaganda directed at the police themselves by their superiors. Some of us at Union Square heard police saying to each other that they had heard we were starting to throw broken bottles and excrement (!) at them – rumors always about something that happened at some unspecified point in the past but that always seem to circulate right before orders are given to attack. There seems a strange obsession on the part of police commanders with shit and urine, they’re always coming up with weird stories about how protestors are flinging filth of one sort or another. Needless to say no evidence this has ever happened has ever been produced but somehow every cop seems to be absolutely convinced it has.

        1. Douglas D. Edwards

          Have you read Norman Spinrad’s *The Iron Dream* (1972)? It’s a science-fiction satire on fascism, and on fascistic tendencies in science fiction writing. The 11-page Afterword is quite illuminating as to the psychology of the “secretional and fecal obsessions” of authoritarians.

          From the days when I was a right-winger, I recall how books from publishers like Arlington House would regale us with tales of young women (yes, they did specify the gender) unzipping their Levis to fill plastic bags with urine and feces to throw at police during 1960s demonstrations.

          Finally, have you seen Kevin Gosztola’s piece from February on “The hysterical fear of urine and feces being thrown at police during G8 protests”?:


          1. David Graeber

            Wow thanks that’s extraordinarily interesting. I have been noticing the body waste obsession for years. “Spitting on men in uniforms” was one early form. Then there’s the obsession with throwing shit and piss, which often, in police intelligence reports, takes on bizarre forms, like cops claiming protestors were coming armed with squirt guns loaded with a mix of bleach and urine…. Then there’s the supposed guy who relieved himself on a cop car – no idea whether that one ever really happened either, though of course, I suppose anything can happen once (the city was intentionally dumping lots of recently released prisoners in Zuccotti Park, so there were all sorts of characters…)

            I have noticed you can always tell when police are making something up because they _have_ to introduce body waste somewhere. During the World Economic Forum I remember reading a police report about how they had arrested two anarchists they claimed were preparing to attack a hotel. I remember reading it with some other activists; they presented them at a press conference with a pile of gear supposedly discovered on them. The press statement said, they were found with masks…
            …. and we said, yes, they would have had masks
            It said they were found with monkey-wrenches
            ….and we said, well, yeah, that’s certainly possible
            It said, they were found with jars of their own urine.
            ….and we said, right, they made it up.
            No activist I’ve met has ever come to a demo equipped with containers of their own excrement.

        2. Bill Wolfe

          I was abused by cops on May Day and complained to at least 6 white shirted supervisors. 2 or 3 of them claimed to have been hit with shit or urine by OWS protesters.

          I found that really sick lie – like the “Spitting Image” – book about the myth of Vietnam Vets getting spit on by hippies and anti-war protesters.

    2. Lambert Strether

      “I know anyone can get tangled up in a power trip.” This is really true. The Stanford Prison and Milgram experiments show so clearly that “There but for the grace of…” I don’t mean to sound like Polyanna here, but we should never think that we ourselves could never commit evil (“We are not like them; we are good!”) even as we unequivocally condemn evil when it is done. (This IMNSHO is one of the things that the Federalist Papers got right. “Experience has taught [hu]mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”

      1. Thomas Gokey

        One thing that has struck me in my conversations with the police during OWS is just how uncritical they are or untroubled about what they’re asked to participate in. Maybe I was naive, but I was expecting more thoughtful and conflicted responses. Instead there was a kind of no-nonsense, “I’m just doing my job”/”doing what I’m told” kind of attitude. I found this utterly shocking. It’s as if being ordered to go grope those non-violent protesters was as ordinary of a command as being asked to wash some dishes or repair a wall.

        Since OWS began I’ve been reading a lot of Stanley Milgram. It’s fascinating stuff but I still can’t really make sense of it. I would love to get inside the NYPD’s heads and really know what it is they are thinking, from the inside, because it just baffles me.

        One thing that I think Milgram can teach us is the sense righteousness that an authoritarian culture like the police can build around itself, a bubble of self-righteousness which preemptively justifies whatever actions they take. This violence might appear meaningless and cruel, but within the moral universe of the police it is justified. Even moreso within that bubble it is the good, right, courageous thing to do. It’s not surprising that it requires fantasies of feces and urine to get them there. And if Milgram is to be believed each of us could be pulled into that bubble under the right circumstances.

        I go back and forth between thinking that the way OWS wins is to flip the police by appealing to their consciouses, and the feeling that the police are hopeless and a lost cause. Watching armies of riot-gear clad thugs arresting a handful of unarmed non-violent protesters is the furthest thing from a show of force. It’s laughable really. It’s a tremendously pathetic weakness.

        OWS has been a real dramatization of the full range of human capacities. The shear joy, creativity and courage that the protesters have shown makes me think that human beings can do anything. OWS really is the most beautiful thing in the world. And then the craven, unthinking destructive force of the police lays bare the heart of darkness. It’s New York’s finest vs. the NYPD.

        I’ve reposted this article in it’s entirety everywhere I can. Let’s make it go viral.

  25. National Jester

    Sorry if I question the events and intent as given in this story. If this protest was really peaceful, does that mean there was no property damage or intimidation by the protesters? In Oakland, the Occupy folks destroy all kinds of private and public property, block traffic and strike passing cars, and then claim to be peaceful.

    The Occupy movement could learn a few lessons from the civil rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s. They made their point peacefully and had moral superiority over the powers that be. And the greater public was moved to support them. The Occupy folks have not been that wise or restrained. So sorry, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the protesters in this story.

    1. David Graeber

      If there were property destruction going on, don’t you think you would have heard about it? Every time someone damages a window in Oakland its national news.

    2. Lambert Strether

      Two wrongs don’t make a right goes both ways.

      I don’t support smashy smashy as a policy in Oakland or anywhere because I think it discourages participation, leaving us more vulnerable, not less, but that doesn’t excuse what was done here. (One could make a “heat of battle” or “fog of war” excuse for the NYPD here, I suppose, in a wild melee, but so far as I can tell, there was nothing of that sort here.)

      1. Soullite

        No, you’re just a traitor who stabs his allies in the back so he cal feel better about himself.

        That’s always been your MO: quick to betray, and constantly defensive about it. You were quick to betray the Democrats long before anyone else was. You were quick to hop on the Hillary bandwagon (when most lefties wouldn’t go near her for dear life) because of a BS campaign commercials about ‘hidden people’. You’re quick to turn on your fellow protestors because you don’t like the clothes they wear or their tactics.

        You’re just not the sort of person who can be listened to when it comes to things like this. Nobody really knows when they’ll do something to cause you to turn on them, too.

        1. Eureka Springs

          Actually, compared to most… Lambert is both quick to learn and holding true to his principles, imo. I didn’t agree with his pro Hillary (thus apologizing for neo-liberal Democrats of any persuasion) stance for a long time… but it is her neo-liberal beliefs, action, alignment which is her peril, not any self-respecting progressive I know.

          It’s interesting you mention no betrayal of/by the other side of the examples you cite. You’ve probably running around the net for years pummeling former or appalled Dems for voting Green and such.

      2. David Graeber

        No that’s the whole point – we have been studiously non-violent so as to offer them no excuse; the cops seem to be trying their best to encourage us to violence and failing.

        You have to admit the apologists for police violence are getting pretty desperate when they are reduced to justifying attacks on protestors in New York on the basis of things that some protestors did in Oakland, California, on a different occasion. Not even to bring in the question of by what peculiar logic – even if Occupiers were damaging a store window or some such, which they aren’t – the poster feels it would be an appropriate response to grope their breasts.

        1. Jason Sands

          “we have been studiously non-violent so as to offer them no excuse”

          Isn’t it time your learned that this doesn’t work, and adopted new tactics?

          “As Gandhi revealed, non-violent protest is effective above all because it reveals how power really operates”

          Racist revisionism, Indians gained independence by fighting back, “Do or Die” was not a non-violent campaign.

  26. Remby

    How the hell do We-The-People keep electing FASCISTS like these into public office ???

    No wonder we have a Fascist Authoritarian Gov. !!

    1. chitown2020

      It is a party of one that’s how. What are the choices? Heart Disease or Cancer…? I don’t want either. It has always been this way. The only President in our lifetime who tried to spoil their evil plans was J.F.K. These crooks are very sneaky…cold and calculated.

  27. just me

    Mpls-StPaul police plying kids with drugs, apparently to coerce them into becoming informants?

    It’s front-page on Michael Moore right now, linking to City Pages. http://blogs.citypages.com/blotter/2012/05/minnesota_police_giving_peavy_plaza_occupy-ers_drugs_as_part_of_impairment_study_report_says_video.php

    Moore has video: http://michaelmoore.com/
    Uh … Who Put the
    What in the Where Now?
    In strangest OCCUPY WALL STREET treatment by police yet, Minneapolis-St. Paul PD appears to be giving free drugs to Occupiers

    And at firedoglake:

  28. Karen in SF

    Thanks for the highlight on this latest escalation in repressive tactics.

    My first thought about why cops would use this strategy is not to provoke men, or to get the women out of the way so they could attack the men more aggressively, but that women are central, persistent, numerous, strong activists — we’re a top-level target becaues we’re leaders, period. I know in my work in the 1980s-1990s, the grassroots anti-war orgs were peopled (staff and vols) by I’d say 70% women.

    It’s all speculation, and comparisons are odious, so let’s call police-state tactics for what they are and oppose them, no matter *who*’s the target of the day (in SF I’ve seen SFPD pick out individual African-American men for special beating or cruel detention). But always important to enumerate, describe and explain the specifics so we know exactly what’s going on. Thank you, David Graeber.

    1. David Graeber


      Well it’s definitely true that women do most of the most important work but I don’t know if police are smart enough to know that!

  29. hermanas

    As “the greatest generation” dies off, the zombies they defeated return.

  30. PCM

    I know this is a bit far down the page to gain your attention, but I will reply with a suggestion I feel may help expose the criminal actions and put a stop to this. The way I feel to handle this is to provide female protesters (or maybe all protesters?) with the ability to record and transmit live images from the occupation area. It should not be difficult to arrange a live feed of, for instance, one picture per second, transmitted via cellular network to a secure server where the evidence can be gathered. Imagine the public’s reaction to seeing dozens or hundreds of instances of of this abuse, and the resulting sh*tstorm the police department would face. Nothing tells a story better than a picture. Old donated cellular phones could be used with a custom app, nothing too elaborate, worn about the neck possibly?

    1. Lambert Strether

      Ideally this would be done with a p2p network or darknet, so the when they shut down or jam the cell networks (as Mubarak did) the story still goes through. Also ideally this would be done by independent streamers so it’s seen as reporting and not agitprop. Easy for me to say, I know. But I like this idea because it is leveraging the central idea of transparency. The police are civil servants! Why [modulo the discussion about the state] should we not record their actions?! Also, it’s possible to seed an area with USB storage cemented into walls, so data can be stored for later pickup even if not transmitted….

      The camera is mightier than the nightstick and the pepper spray!

  31. bmeisen

    Officer Krumpke/Winski!!! Thanks for the link to the clip with voice-over! Wonderful update of the satirical classic that mischievously taunted the 60’s democrat/liberal establishment.

  32. my.comment

    the nypd sexually assaulting women isn’t a surprising development. they must certainly feel untouchable since two rape cases recently adjudicated where the defendants were nypd, were convicted of lesser crimes than what the witness testimony and evidence proved otherwise.

    1. F. Beard

      they must certainly feel untouchable my.comment

      None of us is untouchable.

      I feel the liberal antagonism toward firearms works against social justice. There was an expression in the Old West – “got shot in the back” – and if I recall the meaning was that the victim deserved it.

      Not that I recommend vigilante justice. Still, any rapist should be well afraid of a father, husband, brother, mother, sister, friend or the woman herself who can shoot straight and at long range if necessary.

      1. Kate Alexander

        It reads as if you ARE recommending vigilante justice….but more to the point, if people are supposed to arm themselves to defend themselves from police, police has a very serious PR problem.

        I’m a leftie who just so happens to be good with a gun, I’d just rather hoped I lived in a somewhat more civil society.

        1. F. Beard

          ….but more to the point, if people are supposed to arm themselves to defend themselves from police, Kate Alexander

          That’s coming unless we fix these economic problems.

          But I’m optimistic. The solution is not that hard and a broad consensus should be achievable.

        2. F. Beard

          It reads as if you ARE recommending vigilante justice… Kate Alexander

          No, I’m saying that a balance of power tends to keep people better behaved.

  33. nocirc

    Nothing new. The state has been supporting sexual abuse and trauma for years. The U.S. has been mutilating males’ genitals since the rise of the military-industrial complex in the late 40’s. I don’t think thats a coincidence. Mutilate enough boys and every so often you’ll get another sociopathic thug to join the ranks of the police/military.

    1. F. Beard

      The U.S. has been mutilating males’ genitals nocirc

      I was so “mutilated”. It sure beats having something that looks like it came from a “Dune” movie! (Not that genitals are ever very attractive. That’s what the hair is for!)

      Of course, female genital mutilation is a true horror. You trivialize that horror by referring to male circumcision as “mutilation”. Ask most males who have been circumscribed if they regret it and they will probably say there are glad it was done and that it is no big deal.

      1. Lidia

        Seriously, what else are they gonna say?

        I know which I prefer: the kind Mother Nature made, not the God-of-Moses edited version.

        1. F. Beard

          I know which I prefer: the kind Mother Nature made, Lidia

          Well, I suppose it would speed up the process a good deal – the male being more sensitive.

          Also I have heard that it isn’t easy to keep clean it but I have no personal experience with that either.

          Still if you like it fast and dirty, who am I to disagree? :)

  34. nico

    Really looks like the 4th Reich has been put in place with the grand distraction of putting mr. black bush in office

  35. BEnnie

    Please stop referencing Ghandi. Ghandi was a racist, high caste who only preached non-violence for and against people of his own class…for those of lower class/caste he openly advocated violence against them…read…dont simply regurgitate

  36. yomama123

    In order for peaceful protest to be effective it requires a sympathetic audience to take offense to the oppressive behavior of goon squads. Unfortunately most americans are either too busy watching Dancing With the Stars to be bothered having to interpret such blatant episodes of fascism, or they themselves wouldn’t mind bashing a hippy on the head with a baton. As long as they have enough bread and circus to stay alive and entertained, they will stay passive and accept any and all forms of tyranny the state serves up. Not only will the accept it, they will learn to love it, and ridicule those who have chosen to resist. Indeed no man is more enslaved than the one who cherishes the shackles around his own wrists. The propaganda war has been won, the kleptocrats have thoroughly convinced the majority that it is in their best interests to serve up their liberties and the fruits of their labors for the privilege of receiving an illusionary sense of security and a non existent shot at one day joining their exclusive club. In short…AMERICA IS DEFEATED

    1. David Graeber

      The fact that the American media embraced OWS in the beginning the way it did amazed all of us who had been involved in the initial days – especially people like me who’d been doing this sort of thing in the US for a long time. The media is usually systematically hostile. When the mainstream press started actually talking about and making a scandal of police brutality, we could hardly believe it was happening. I guess it’s not surprising it didn’t last that long. People were talked to. It’ll probably be a long time before we learn how, by whom, but suddenly, nothing that happens is a story any more.

      It’s not Americans that are to blame. They have to have a way to find out what’s going on. Some people now seem determined they not do so.

  37. rps

    Why is it when paths of passive resistance are discussed, men are the example? Why have women such as Alice Paul, Ella Baker(NAACP,SCLC,SCEF,and SNCC), Rosa Parks, Diane Nash (SNCC), Fannie Lou Hamer, and many other valiant women’s voices and actions against oppression are ignored?

    Alice Paul was a middle-class educated woman, and the architect of the National Women’s Party. The NWP led a successful campaign against socio-political repression of women’s rights. On March 3, 1913, the women’s parade march on Pennsylvania avenue was violently interrupted. Women were beaten and dragged by male on lookers while the police remained passive not protecting the women, but arresting them. Surprised? In 1916, women lead a peaceful protest, and were beaten by police, arrested for “obstructing traffic,” and sent to Occoquan Workhouse,a rat-infested, filthy prison in Virginia. The women declared themselves as political prisoners. Paul and several other suffragists went on a hunger strike to protests illegal arrests and prison conditions. They were forcibly fed in a tortuous method with a funnel and tube down their throats. President Wilson tried to rid himself of the Paul nuisance and had her removed to a sanatorium to have her declared insane. He failed, she won. Because of Paul, Lucy Burns, and many other suffragists, women finally gained the right to vote; the nineteenth amendment.

    Government oppression hasn’t changed, and neither have the methods of violence and subversive tactics against the populace demanding “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

    Government tactics of violence and brutality are exercised with the goal of ending the people’s participation in the movement. Why look to Ghandi for inspiration? Look closer to home at the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. SNCC is a good example of the grassroots movement that evolved into participatory democracy actions mentored by Ella Baker. Look to the snowball effect of the lunch counter arrests of four black college students at Woolworth’s in Greensboro, North Carolina. This protest along with many more had actionably protested institutional racism. They changed the system with coalition building through grassroots organization demanding recognition and changes in local, state, and federal discriminatory laws

    True change is never peaceful due to the powerful monied oppressors that infect government’s resistance toward egalitarian advancements.

    1. David Graeber

      I agree. I might add, that in London, where I’ve been mostly living for the last few years, window-breaking as a form of political protest had been completely institutionalized in the 19th century – it was considered normal and inevitable if popular parties lost a vote that their members would go out and break some windows. Then when the Radical Suffragettes started doing it, it became a terrible scandal and there has been an obsession with stopping it ever since.

      Here’s a song I just got sent the link to, dedicated to Marisa Holmes, who did more to create Occupy Wall Street than any other single person:


      1. rps

        Yes, indeed. Alice Paul was a Quaker raised with suffrage beliefs. Paul had learned successful protest tactics under the tutelage of Christabel and Emmeline Pankhurst. Two noteworthy British feminist radicals that Paul admired during her visit to England around 1907. “Deeds not words” were their slogan. Quaker women have been long time ardent activists for human equality. Two pioneering southern antebellum feminists Sarah and Angelina Grimke were early abolitionists and feminists of the late 1700’s and early 1800’s.

        Women’s rights has been a long haul through patriarchal governments. Abigail Adams letters to her husband had addressed her demand for women’s rights, “If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.” Abigail wrote Mercy Otis Warren about John Adams, “He is very sausy to me in return for a List of Female Grievances which I transmitted to him. I think I will get you to join me in a petition to Congress…..” How soon the movers and shakers of past generations are buried, and history sanitizes government violence and brutality.

        The 1960’s Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was very effective in propelling black oppression to the forefront of institutionalized racism. Perhaps OWS should implement the nuts and bolts of this organization’s tactics. SNCC was mentored by Ella Baker’s theory and practice methodology of grassroots movement coalition and the formation of participatory democracy. Baker would start the meetings with, “Now let me ask this again, What is our purpose here, What are we trying to accomplish?”

        Movements rarely herald or credit the previous generations of activists who had built the foundation towards a better society.
        “Where I went to school you went there to give the best of yourself to other people, rather than to extract from other people for your own benefit” Ella Baker

        1. David Graeber

          The form of consensus process we use in OWS is also more a legacy of feminism than anything else. SNCC did use consensus but the process was rather improvised, partly because the Quakers who had the most experience didn’t want to teach how to do it, since ether considered it a religious practice and didn’t want to proselytize. When groups like SNCC and SDS dissolved into the kind of macho hierarchical groups that dominated the late ’60s, the feminists who were to some degree reacting against them went back to consensus, but soon found that as consciousness-raising groups became larger, problems ensued, dominant cliques emerged, etc. (Jo Freeman wrote a famous essay about this called “The Tyranny of Structurelessness.”) The result was a long process of inventing was of being open, horizontal and egalitarian, with no formal leadership structure, but still having a clear, effective process that doesn’t allow informal power structures to emerge – that culminated in the General Assemblies of OWS. It’s more a product of feminism even than anarchism, though anarchists of course (and especially anarcha-feminists) quickly jumped on board.

  38. paco picopiedra

    Holy cannoli.

    1) The fake Henry James character continues to pontificate about Change From Within By Alignment With Empathetic(-seeming) Pundits and Activists. This, my friends, is old news. “lambert strether” is a DNC fluffer, a mini-Rahm Emanuel, a lover of crystal chandeliers and all the finest lifestyle accessories. Why would someone think the pseudo-insightful crap he/she/it posts could in any way be relevant to how we should CHANGE (i.e., measurably, meaningfully and substantively) things for the better? The type of pseudo-change desired by fake henry james character is like a World Bank wet dream — fancy accoutrements in even 4th world countries… materialist par excellence, monsignor strether continues to pine for the latest gadgets from Apple and the nicest new Viking kitchen appliances.

    2) Are people really citing Rachel Maddow and other infotainers as persons with whom evolutionaries should align? Are people really that naive? Maddow is a Glenn Beck or Bill O’Reilly, not an honest broker of serious power shifts.

    3) Given the things observed in (1), (2) is inevitable. Which leads to (3) — “leftists” just want a comfortable First World life where we just paint smiley faces over the ugly bits, name our kids with exotic labels and preferably hyphenate surnames, and drive the latest Audi or BMW crossover back and forth between workplace, Whole Foods, and the Yoga Club. What a bag of pretentious windbaggy fools. Emphasis on pretentious.

    1. David Graeber

      What does any of this have to do with occupiers and police violence though? If that world seems a dead-end to you, why not join our world, where we’re actually trying to develop a democratic culture and another society?

      1. paco picopiedra

        I’m commenting on what “lambert strether” has suggested on those very lines, Graeber.

        As to your schoolmarmish attitude —


        You wrote a nice little book. It’s even gained in popularity recently. Bully for you. There’s a lot of pretentious-yet-ignorant people out there who need to read your book in order to get the points you’re making, no matter how many pages it took you to get there. So congratulations on that target audience’s serendipitous co-existence with your encyclopaedic examination of the obvious.

        Now stop pretending that you hold the keys to evolutionary social shifts. The answer doesn’t lie with some new “expert” — no matter how big the tidal wave of e-space popularity he may surf.

        People need to see the entire landscape clearly, Graeber. I’d have thought your windbaggy book was about helping that happen. But if you want to ping me for exposing fraudulent nonsense like the gibberish offered by “lambert strether” and at the same time say you’re talking about how to make real change, I tend to find you more Yellow Kid Weil and less Murray Bookchin or Howard Zinn or even Michael Albert.

        1. paco picopiedra

          PS to Graeber —

          I would have thought someone who bothered to research the history of material/fiscal indebtedness and exhaust the subject in prose, well that person would understand that the sorts of “change from within” argued by many in this thread and generally (as I’ve read things) at this particular blog, they’re not meaningful changes… they’re just changes in process, like plastic surgery on a vain person’s face.

          I would have thought that if your desire is to move us to a better world, you’d first want to lay out the landscape of what that “better world” looks like, and not arrogantly assume that everyone sees the same “better world” that David Graeber or “lambert strether” or “yves smith” or Richard Seymour or any other hot pwog pundit of the moment might imagine. Some of us out here in the world don’t agree with what “yves smith” or “lambert strether” might suggest is a “better world.” I might not agree with you, Graeber. I know I don’t agree with Seymour or any other Marxist or Marxist derivative.

          But hey, I’ll join you in Buying The World A Coke and Keeping It Company. We can even sing kum-bah-yah around a gentle campfire of the largest White Man’s Fear variety.

          1. nobody

            paco picopiedra,

            Do you have a picture of the landscape of what a ‘better world’ looks like?

            What do people need to do “to see the entire landscape clearly”?

          2. rps

            Paco, are you pointing to the pontification of the left and undoubtedly right ideologues whose premise of activism is for the end result of the almighty dollar reward as they catch the tail of Hale Bopp’s comet? Or are you suggesting they are Mustapha Mond’s guardians of conditioning the populace, “All men will find that independence was not made for man, that it is an unnatural state. We prefer to do things comfortably.” Perhaps you are John the Savage, “But I don’t want comfort. I want God. I want poetry, I want real danger. I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin,….I’m claiming the right to be unhappy.”

            The present state of governmental tyranny has been the intrusive velvet glove to conform the masses for the benefit of the ruling elite class. Nothing new here. Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Oakes Smith, Margaret Fuller, Thomas Paine, T. Jefferson, Pamela Wright Davis, etc.. would say tell me something I didn’t know. Obviously, the difference of then and now is social engineering (thank you Henry Ford),has been modernized and streamlined. We are the products of the assembly line according to Huxley. The elites have gathered the cattle in the chute while distracting them with a wide distribution of easy pleasure to keep them in line. However, the red warning light is blinking due to the failures of providing jobs for the educated masses. Who knew that employment had become a privilege and not a right? Well, women have always known this……

          3. David Graeber

            hey it was just a suggestion on the assumption that you were basically sympathetic. From the evidence of your recent posts, I’d agree – you’d probably be better off staying away.

  39. A

    This is so awful, and it fills me with anxiety to hear about.

    Did you know that, shortly after the “personal army” comment, the NYC police department went on a hiring spree, which is continuing to this day?

  40. Virginia Deoccupy Homelessness Simson

    David, could you PLEASE help us makes THIS (related story) go VIRAL. We are endeavoring to do that .. because this shows the level of moral turpitude these corrupted officials are capable of .. As a Chemical Dependency professional I am disgusted, outraged and LIVID. I complained to the Mayor and Sheriff about this last fall and got NO uptake whatsoever about it. From what we hear, this has happened in Portland as well.


    Video documentation by local activists and independent media shows that police officers and county deputies from across Minnesota have been picking up young people near Peavey Plaza for a training program to recognize drug-impaired drivers. Multiple participants say officers gave them illicit drugs and provided other incentives to take the drugs. The Occupy movement, present at Peavey Plaza since April 7th, appears to be targeted as impaired people are dropped off at the Plaza, and others say they’ve been rewarded for offering to snitch on the movement.

    Local independent media activists and members of Communities United Against Police Brutality began investigating police conduct around the Plaza after witnessing police dropping off impaired people at the plaza and hearing rumors that they were offering people drugs. We videotaped police conduct and interviewed participants, learning some very disturbing information about the DRE program.

    Officers stated on record the DRE program, run by the Minnesota State Patrol, has no Institutional Review Board or independent oversight. They agreed no ambulances or EMTs were on site at the Richfield MnDOT facility near the airport where most subjects were taken. Multiple times, participants left Peavey Plaza sober, returned intoxicated, and said they’d been given free drugs by law enforcement. We documented on more than one occasion, someone being told they were sober by one officer, and then picked up by a different officer, and returning intoxicated.

    Given the dangers of impaired driving, there is value in training law enforcement officers to distinguish between the effects of various drugs and several common medical conditions. However, we have captured video footage of instances in which DRE trainees recruited subjects who are not already impaired, and those participants say they were given drugs by the officers.

    Although program documents indicate that participants must sign a waiver, https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/msp/forms-reports/Documents/SFSTSponsorResponsib… there was no indication from any of the participants interviewed that a waiver was offered or obtained. Further, video footage seems to validate the recollections of participants that no medical personnel or ambulance were on site during the observation and testing in Richfield. A DRE officer told one of our investigators that no Institutional Review Board assessment of the program has been made, a requirement of all experiments involving human subjects. Since it’s unethical to encourage people to take drugs–whether by giving them drugs directly or enticing them with food, cigarettes, or other rewards (which participants say they were given)–it is unlikely such a program would pass IRB review as it endangers the test subjects.

    According to the WCCO article from May 2011, officer trainees in the past have worked with various non-profit organizations to recruit drug users. It would appear now that they are no longer relying solely on this tactic, instead recruiting users directly and, participants say, providing them with drugs. After the sessions, these individuals are then dropped off in public areas without supportive care, creating a public safety hazard. In an example at Peavey Plaza caught on film, an individual who said he’s been smoking courtesy of the police for an hour, crossed a line of Minneapolis police barricades, climbed to the top of a large sign and sat 15 feet above the sidewalk swinging his arms and legs in front of a police camera.

    Our investigation points to particular efforts to target and recruit youth. Further, law enforcement officers have been taped recruiting people from the Peavey Plaza area of Nicollet Mall and have dropped off a number of impaired individuals at Peavey Plaza. In some instances, Minneapolis police squad cars were present while DRE trainees recruited people at Peavey Plaza. After receiving drugs, some subjects were asked to snitch on the Occupy movement or asked about various people and activities of Occupy, they said. Given efforts by the Minneapolis city council to pass an ordinance designed to restrict access to Peavey Plaza by the Occupy movement, the conduct of DRE trainees points to the possibility that they are working hand-in-glove with Minneapolis police to discredit and disrupt the Occupy movement.

    “I think most people would be very surprised to have our tax dollars used to get people high,” states Michelle Gross, president of Communities United Against Police Brutality. “These activities call into question the methods and motives of this DRE training.”

    * * *
    What worries me is that #occuPartiers here will just make this a media circus and NOT concentrate on getting accountability and making changes in police/public policy conduct.

    (and in my book, you are _just _plain _fabulous. Hats off forever!)

    1. David Graeber

      thanks! I sent it out on twitter
      yeah, that one really takes the cake, doesn’t it?

  41. Sparrow

    Anyone surprised or shocked by this has not been paying attention the last…oh, hundred years at least. The police in this country are beholden to the ones in power, NOT to the ordinary people they are supposedly “protecting”. They do not care about us, not one whit. We are just cattle to them: when we behave, we’re good cattle, and when we don’t, we’re subject to kicking, cursing, assault, injury, even death – just like cattle.


  42. mk

    (name removed) says:
    May 3, 2012 at 9:14 pm
    gandhi was a (comment removed)

  43. EmilianoZ

    Posts like these are the reason why I will take part in the next NC fundraiser. This is essential information you can’t find anywhere else.

    I have to greatest admiration for those women who put themselves at the forefront of protest. I wish I had their courage.

  44. Suzy Subways

    Thank you so much for writing about this. This is very triggering for me, but very important to talk about.

    I had some experiences like this more than ten years ago, and it still has an impact on me that I struggle to overcome. I think this is the reason the cops do it. It actually can make you never want to go to another protest and definitely not risk arrest. It’s widely known that sexual assault results in trauma that makes a survivor want to avoid situations similar to the one where the assault happened. In this case, protests.

    The first time was when I was arrested at Hunter College in winter 1999 for yelling in a public hearing about the plan to end open admissions. My arresting officer was a CUNY security guard, and he groped my ass while doing the pat down. Then, they took me to East Harlem, and a woman cop there strip searched me. I won a civil suit that cited both incidents (strip search was at that point illegal without reasonable suspicion of drugs or a weapon).

    After the protests in Philly against the Republican National Convention in 2000, a friend told me that she and others had experienced police grabbing their crotches while they were under arrest. I was totally horrified and wondered why people hadn’t talked about it more. Then, it happened to me.

    I was arrested at the Bush inauguration in 2001 by Secret Service. While in the Capital Police station, a woman cop grabbed my crotch really hard (so it was humiliating, violating, and painful). Then she said, “You don’t like it when I do that, do you?” and I said no. So she did it again.

    I felt really gross for a month after the strip search, but the impact of the second incident mainly was to combine itself with other feelings I was already experiencing — disillusionment, confusion about my life choices, and guilt over doing an action that put myself and others at risk in ways that were not entirely consensual) — to make me feel disinterested in street protest and numb or judgmental when others were hurt.

    For a long time, I would get panic attacks whenever I tried to go into a building with a metal detector and at airport security, because they would sometimes pull out the wand and feel around my underwire.Twice (in 2002 and 2004) I cried hysterically and screamed at the security guards. Now I have a special bra with no underwire that I wear when I know I’ll go through security. But also, I’ve been able to handle that better in the past few years, because I understood that it was related to past trauma and not the circumstances of the moment.

    The worst impact has been my fear of risking arrest. Three times in the past year I’ve been shaking with fear while doing things I really wanted to do that I knew might get me arrested (sleeping in Zuccoti Park on the 2nd Sunday night/Monday morning of OWS, marching through Rittenhouse Square at 5 am on the night we thought Occupy Philly would be evicted from City Hall, and on May Day blocking a Wells Fargo entrance in Philly). I consciously did these things in order to push myself and heal from the past.

    I don’t know of incidents myself as described in your article that happened to women in the street who were not under arrest yet or were being arrested around other people. These things happened to me after I had been arrested by myself and I was alone, so the type of trauma may be different. But I believe the police do this because it is widely known that sexual assault results in lasting trauma that makes the survivor want to avoid putting her/himself in harm’s way again. It also gives the cops a sadistic thrill. This is truly a grim side of humanity.

    1. Capo Regime

      What a horrible experience you have had. Indeed its probably that this is all very underreported and generates little attention. This sort of thing, prison rape and other horrors have become the unspoken daily reality in the U.S. Horrible and even more horrible is the lack of outrage of these sort violations either directly perpetrated or tacitly encouraged by the state

    2. F. Beard

      But I believe the police do this because it is widely known that sexual assault results in lasting trauma that makes the survivor want to avoid putting her/himself in harm’s way again. Suzy Subways

      It might traumatize me for a while but later, if it was serous, that thug had better hope I don’t get his name.

      I’m just surprised, given the above behavior, that there are so few cop beatings.

    3. mary

      @Suzy Subways It is so disturbing to read
      your post. The degradation of a woman by
      the police force is meant to undermine
      much more than her political beliefs and
      her rights as a citizen. It is a filthy
      act meant to nullify her existence and if
      these things which have happened to you
      have indeed become “systematic” in the
      context of OWS and other civil protests
      in the post “Crisis 2007/08” then I must
      ask you: Are the women being advised and
      prepared for what may very well befall
      them? If not, they certainly should be.
      Thank you for your frankness and I wish
      that I had a way to comfort you after
      what you’ve been through. Just know that
      it is understood.
      of OWS or n r

    4. David Graeber

      Thanks so much for writing that – you have no idea how angry it makes me to know that it’s the very best human beings who are being intentionally targeted and traumatized in this way.

      Posts like yours make me realize that a lot of this isn’t designed to provoke violence, but just as you say, to try to do as much psychological harm as possible to some of the bravest, most resourceful, most principled, and therefore – for them – most dangerous people in our movement. I guess if we can take any comfort in all this, it’s that they know exactly how afraid of us they ultimately are.

  45. Kingdvd

    get the groping officers names, find their home numbers and call their wives. see how they like their husbands messing with other womens breast. or have a woman call and tell them that she is having an affair.

    1. F. Beard

      get the groping officers names, find their home numbers and call their wives. see how they like their husbands messing with other womens breast. Kingdvd

      We have a winner! A photo or two would help too. Post em on their church’s bulletin board?

      Note to Occupy women: Try to look as normal as possible? Looking like a freak does not help your cause.

        1. Jean

          Cross-link with CopBlock.org, and provide references.

          And for “counterpoint”, if anyone is a cop – look into (i think it’s) “policeOne.com? It’s referenced frequently from CopBlock, and the pigs there like to talk tough, I’m told – but it’s only open to police. Swine is swine, though. Will require a LEO to get in, but would be interesting to see screen captures show up on Google or such….

  46. Mike

    Some idiots will always defend the abuser over the abused.

    There were a lot of idiots in this thread above.

  47. Jean

    I do not know if others have made the point, but: As long as the populace is unarmed and impotent to do anything back, we live in a DE FACTO police state – and until some blood is spilled, it will remain such.

    I say this as an ex-Republican, STILL small-c conservative, who despises the OWS BS. But we WERE fed a load of bullshit, and while WE need to “man up” and deal with it (or put on your big girl panties, ladies), we have been manipulated by those in positions of authority. Some of us just learned it sooner (parents were “good teachers” that way.)

    Others didn’t look, think, or learn until it was too late.

  48. Fearnot

    Just to witness what’s happening nationwide … I was at a Government Mule show at Red Rocks a few years back and got pretty high and fell down. The cops grabbed me up. In the single concrete cell there I made the high mistake of giving a cop a subtle flip off. He left but came back 20 minutes later with a couple other cops. They were wearing blue rubber gloves and made me stand up – I was compliant throughout. They handcuffed me. Then one cop had me by an arm and the other, facing me, slowly unzipped my fly and reached into my underwear where he placed his fingers on my balls and flicked them several times – kind of a territorial thing. Then he gripped my penis between his thumb and index finger and pulled my penis out of my pants. Then they took me down to the floor and for the next hour tied my penis with surgical gauze so that it practically disappeared and mock dismembered it repeatedly. I literally believed I was in hell and as lost and terrified as I was then and as hard as the 2 years of psychotherapy was following and even though I lost my mind for a period I wouldn’t wish that experience on Hitler or even the cops who did it to me.

    Subsequently, from the arrest record, I looked up the main perp – he’s actually on FB. He was at Camp Pendleton in the early ’80’s and his FB page is all about special forces and handguns. The first time I had my teeth cleaned after I thought my heart would stop when the sweet hygienist put her blue rubber gloved hands in my mouth.

    1. different clue

      I don’t know how Facebook works. Is any passing someone who can find someone’s Facebook page able to put up a comment? If so, would it make sense for you to put up a “hey, remember me?” comment on this officer’s Facebook page? A detailed comment which asks: “do you remember when you did THIS? And do you remember when you did THIS?” and so on and so on. The point would be for everyone else who reads that Facebook page to read your story and learn about what this officer is and does.
      Did it make any sense to take your story to some kind of legal people to press some kind of sexual assault action? If this officer could be branded a “sex-offender”, could it destroy his job and career?

  49. different clue

    Several people have beat me to some good ideas. Anyone/everyone attending such protests or demonstrations should be stealth-wired for sound and pictures. The sound and pictures should be real-time uploadable to unerasable storage.

    Every breastfeeling-officer recorded in sound and image should be name-identified if possible and their significant others should be given copies of the sound and pictures. Their children and all their children’s friends and all the members of all their social-circle organizations (church, etc.) should be given copies of the sound and pictures. Find the facebook pages of their children and post those pictures there (this is what your father/mother does for a living. Are you proud?) The effort should be to destroy the social image and social lives of the police-perpetrators, and then destroy their emotional and psychological lives after that. If some of them could be so socially destroyed as to be driven to highly visible suicide, it might make others more cautious about carrying out such policy. Or even if it just led to their being disowned by their family members and social circle members, it might have an effect on the others.

    The pan-opticon takes on strange properties and has strange effects when it becomes an omni-panopticon. When everyone sees everyone see what everyone sees, some people will no longer do that which they do not wish to be seen doing. Even some police people.

    And being non-violent is not the same thing as being nice. People don’t have to be nice to their enemies in order to be non-violent with them.

  50. emily

    I just can’t see where this movement is going. How many months has it lasted, what has changed as a result? The public is becoming more and more enraged with the violence and damage (on both sides) and less focused on what the occupy movement is even about. Peaceful protest is great, super. But this movement is. not. working. If the 99% wants change, they have to look for new tactics…

    1. different clue

      The 99% may have to look for a new battlefield and new weapons. They (we) may have to think in terms of a decades-long economic war of attrition and extermination against the 1% and especially against the OPOOP ( One Percent Of One Percent). The 99% may have to think in terms of economic survivalism for themselves and economic scorched earth against every bussiness and institution which is designed to move money up the ladder to the 1%. I am speaking of major black-hat financialist institutions in particular and other wealth concentration and redistribution-upward after that.

  51. Madeline

    This is not a brand-new NYPD tactic with demonstrators, but maybe it’s now in wider use. At the Nov 17 morning march in the Wall Street area, a woman in my affinity group had her breast grabbed AND she was punched in the face by a cop. She was not arrested. This is a VERY non-aggressive woman, who at that moment appeared to be in shock that the cop she’d been face to face with for 15 minutes already, who didn’t appear to be a “rogue cop”, would deliberately assault her with no provocation.

  52. MissCherryPi

    Thank you for writing this story. I heard about it on Friday’s Majority Report. I have contacted the NYT Ombudsman, my City Councilman, State Assemblyman, State Senator, Congressman and Senators to ask for an investigation.

  53. jd

    i wanted to make mention of my may day experience. I’m a woman that was arrested during the wildcat march.
    in addition to my shirt being stretched out during my arrest, my bra/breasts being uncovered & pleading to have someone close my jacket for me as i was being ruthlessly photographed… upon sharing jail stories with men, i realized they were treated DRAMATICALLY better during our 24 hour detainment- being given access to food we were not given (fruit), less cramped quarters in which sleeping was possible, much more private bathroom facilities, drinking water and cups (we were offered only milk cartons, dumping the milk out in order to drink water from the sink.)

    1. Anonymous

      Extremely sorry to hear your ordeal…i live in a developing country and sexual assault is somewhat common here but the media does try to report every story it can and the government is openly blamed…Sorry that this happened in a developed Nation which is supposed to be civilized. Hope it never happens to you or any other female again.

  54. vets74

    Men Who Hate Women.

    There’s no shortage of them. NYPD has recruited this profile for decades. Any applicant who expresses sympathy for women is downgraded.


    Cop grabbing girl’s breat and squeezing hard.

    A little raw for Graeber. This act would be good for 2 years behind bars for a civilian. Maybe 5 to 10 years.

    The girl screamed like she’d been knifed.

    The cop gang hate to be photographed. “Män som hatar kvinnor” is their secret sign.

  55. vets74

    Open season on protestors extends to Washington, D.C.

    Why has there been no arrest ? Mike Stack and Patrick Howley incited a riot after planning their scheme to shut down the National Air & Space Museum. Dozens were caught in the melee. Ambulances were called as several of the victims sustained substantial injuries.

    These crimes are admitted, bragged about online.

    — a4.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/581611_335499376504589_324698400918020_812879_68442025_n.jpg

    — sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/562953_336381936416333_324698400918020_813848_1524364230_n.jpg

    No arrest. You would think that these men were police-employed agent provocateurs from the absence of investigation and follow up action. But they are not. One works for a right wing rag “The American Spectator” and the other was recently a porn site shill out of New Jersey.

    Causing injury to protestors is the link for the get-off-free card. Air & Space Museum, October 8 2011.

  56. Theresa

    Is there a reason why men are supporting the cops here? Why is there even debate? Have you lost senses on right and wrong?? A bunch of Tories you are! The Tories were on the side of England btw and loved the gov’t as it was, corrupted. Guess what..the Patriots won.

  57. vets74

    Men Who Hate Women.

    Let them run a whole country and you get this:

    — sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-snc6/248515_168534929873196_100001500710566_407958_7959753_n.jpg

    Yes, she is being executed by stoning. Woman-hating plus theocracy, similar to what American Taliban like for a form of government.

  58. Mr mike

    Readimg this I can’t help but to laugh. The people on this blog seriously believe this stuff. And you wonder why the rest of the world openly laughs at your attempts to be relevant. Nobody cares, cops aren’t groping women on purpose, and the fact that as soon as a person presents a story that goes along with your anti everything attitude they are given instant credibility shows a lack of integrity and an attempt at a propaganda campaign. And please please please, enough with claiming to be peaceful when you do everything in your power to get arrested and try to spin that on YouTube and twitter as the police cracking down on poor innocent marchers..lithe world as a whole ain’t buying it, your seen as a bunch of self rightous, know it all, smart ass kids that live off mommy and daddy, or even better off student loans that have become economic slavery. Occupy is dying, just let it go, I’m sure you all have the next cause in the making, and a way to fill your days before you have to grow up. Go back to my favorite of save the whales, or is that out of style now?

  59. Anonymous

    I can`t believe this..This kind of stuff is common in developing countries and they are known to be police states..Even the people living in them know the reputation of the Police…It`s horrible to see most countries are the same deep down inside…There really is no true freedom then…

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