Protesters claim police brutality, but the media say otherwise.
That leaves subjective interpretation of what constitutes police brutality. How else to explain how two people can witness the same events and come away with different stories?
I watched the livestream video all night. John Morgan of the Pennsylvania Progressive website watched the livestream, too. In an email, Morgan wrote that the scene reminded him of MOVE—the 1985 catastrophe in which the PPD dropped tear gas canisters, water cannons and a four-pound bomb onto the roof of a house, resulting in 11 deaths and the destruction of 65 houses.
I didn’t see it that way at all.
By Wednesday night, a video titled “What the Mainstream Media Failed to Show the World” was posted to the Occupy Philly FB page with the message, “Watch this video. All night protesters stayed peaceful. Police got violent and injured numerous people.”
“I’m glad the [mainstream media] didn’t show this,” wrote FB commenter Ronnie Smith. “It makes you guys look bad. It honestly looks like [people] are picking fights with the cops. I support OWS.”
“This looks like kids starting shit with cops, then over reacting when the cops respond. Because other cities have videos of police brutality it doesn’t mean we have to force it to happen here,” wrote Robert Leo McNamee III.
“With every video and false claim you post here, you lose credibility and most likely many supporters,” posted Maureen Hutton.
In the video, a girl screams, “Surround the bike cops! You gotta corral ’em!” while shoving herself in front of a cop. The cop shouts, “Get the fuck out of the way!”
The girl keeps pushing toward the cop. The crowd, holding up cameras, screams, “Don’t touch her!” And “the whole world is watching!”
Then there’s the third side of the story.
There is no question that some of the Dilworth-or-die Occupiers, who do not represent all of Occupy Philly, were trying to provoke violence. It’s right there in the videos.
Violent confrontations, after all, galvanize movements.
But it turns out the revolution will not be Instagram-ed. The eviction came and went without a meme-worthy Sgt. Pepper-Spray moment. Instead, we have hours and hours of messy footage and a handful of allegations of police brutality.
Twenty-six-year-old Ian Smith was marching from Rittenhouse Square to Dilworth Plaza when he got about 20 seconds ahead of the crowd.
“Literally I was just standing there … and the police charged me and just cracked me on top of the head with his nightstick,” says Smith. It wasn’t caught on film.
Smith, who weighs 125 pounds and stands about 5’ 8”, says he crumpled to the ground. He has a lump and a bruise. He isn’t sure if he is pressing charges.
Joshua Scott Albert, 25, says he was attacked twice by cops that night. Albert says a cop threw him up against the wall at the 7-11 near 18th and JFK. “I was on the ground and they hit me with their bikes,” says Albert. “I preface this by saying since day one, I have not been friendly to the cops … I’ve said some really harsh things to them, but they have a gun and badge.”
Earlier this year, Albert was arrested for disorderly conduct after giving a cop the finger.
“They were going to arrest me until the crowd shouted, ‘Let him go.’” He says he has a bruise on his shin.
First Person Arts Podcast: Proud Mom