The digital skirmishes of OccupyWallStreet

Digital skirmishes between OccupyWallStreet (OWS) protestors and law enforcement officials smoldered over the weekend on sites like YouTube and Facebook.

Indeed, supporters of the rapidly growing movement were outraged when pictures and names of demonstrators arrested at Jamison Square Park were prominently posted on Facebook by the Portland Police Department.

“Officers arrested 27 people, [25 of whom] were charged with Interfering with a Police Officer, Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree and Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree,” the Portland Police Bureau wrote on its official Facebook page.

“The 25 people peacefully arrested sitting in Jamison Square Park were charged with Interfering with a Police Officer, Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree and Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree. The arrests were made after the 25 refused to leave the park after several instructions to leave the park were given by police and Park Rangers. Jamison Square Park closes at 12:00 a.m.”

Unsurprisingly, the Facebook posting did little to dampen the enthusiasm and resolve of OWS supporters in Portland and other cities. 

“I sat in Jamison for many reasons. I made the choice to be arrested for a crime that is not a crime. I did not resist unlawful arrest, I peacefully protested, and I was treated roughly. I was searched by a male police officer,” wrote Facebook user Lani Hannah B’Shalom.

“A woman in the van I was put in (one of the pictured above) had a broken wrist, nearly passed out, and was denied medical attention until we’d been yelling for help for an hour, and we called 911 on someone’s cell phone. I believe that I and my comrades were treated unfairly, and I would do it all again, because free speech > park hours.”

Meanwhile, the Berkeley-based CopWatch posted a YouTube video titled “Beware of Police Infiltrators and Provocateurs,” which shows two officers allegedly attempting to infiltrate the OccupyOakland protests. 

As expected, the clip sparked a lively debate on the site between supporters and opponents of OWS.

“You think calling them provocateurs without proof or any evidence whatsoever is a good idea? To falsely accuse people so you can use it as propaganda is a good idea?” wrote YouTube user Jboritzki. 

“Do you really believe that? If they’re provocateurs then prove it. They were obviously being followed around with cameras, so where is the proof? Where is a single shred of evidence?”

However, other YouTube users – such as AcydRayn – seemed to disagree with Jboritzki’s assessment.

“Every time I watch this is gives me chills. I’ve long known it’s a tactic but I love how cell phones everyone can call their bullsh**… Thank you CopWatch for being out there, filming all the police in uniform and finding the connections among your own and submitted videos.”

It should be noted that the ACLU of Northern California and the National Lawyers’ Guild has demanded a “full investigation” of the Oakland Police Department’s violent conduct during a recent OccupyOakland demonstration.

To be sure, law enforcement officials fired a number of tear gas canisters, concussion grenades, rubber bullets and non-lethal rounds at unarmed protestors – critically wounding Marine veteran Scott Olsen. 

“[We are] asking [the] OPD to immediately produce records about the use of force in responding to the early morning raid of the OccupyOakland encampment and the evening demonstration,” the ACLU stated on its website.

“The public has a right to transparency and accountability, and [these] events are no exception. The situation [also] requires independent oversight, [as] the public has a right to know exactly what happened.