- (Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi)
More than 500 people have been arrested by police in New York whilst taking part in the Occupy Wall Street protests as a massive group attempted to cross Brooklyn Bridge.
A massive group of protesters had gathered in Lower Manhattan Saturday to cross the bridge, but were met by a large police presence who blocked their path and detained hundreds.
The Occupy Wall Street protest has declared that it is defending 99 percent of the United States population against the corporate and wealth one percent. Protesters have been holding a constant vigil in Lower Manhattan’s Financial District for the past few weeks.
According to Reuters, police officers gave protesters numerous warnings to stay on pedestrian walkways so as not to obstruct vehicles traveling across the bridge. However, after those warnings were ignored, police began forcibly moving people and arresting them en-mass.
According to CNN, Paul Browne, deputy commissioner for the New York Police Department said, "Over 500 were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge late this afternoon after multiple warnings by police were given to protesters to stay on the pedestrian walkway, and that if they took roadway they would be arrested.”
"Some complied and took the walkway without being arrested. Others proceeded on the Brooklyn-bound vehicular roadway and were arrested."
Just last Saturday about 80 people were arrested in Occupy Wall Street protests. During those protests police officers were accused of using unnecessary force against those taking part in the march.
Fordham University 2011 graduate Johanne Sterling was one of the people marching through lower Manhattan, New York. The group claimed they had been “peacefully protesting and were not hurting anyone or any property,” according to Sterling.
However, the force used by police to break up the rally was “unnecessary” she told The Christian Post.
“I followed the march up Broadway – holding a peace sign in the air,” Sterling stated. “When a police officer [twice my size] came up behind me, grabbed my arms and threw me against a taxi cab, which had stopped to allow protestors through.”
Sterling described to CP the fear she felt in that moment.
“I was really afraid. No man in my life had ever treated me like that,” she said.
According to Sterling, the officer looked like he could be a “grandfather” and that was why the unprovoked brutality was especially startling.
“I had never seen a police officer [with my own eyes] act like that,” she added. “I was scared to walk by myself [thinking I would be an easier target] and that’s why I stayed with the group.”
Sterling was shaken up – she explains that the wind had been knocked out of her and she was “sobbing.” But, she marched on with the support of other protestors who witnessed what had transpired.
Sterling recounted that the NYPD “corralled the protestors like cattle” behind a mesh barrier. Without any warning, a police officer ran over to the group of women and “maced us all in the face and ran back across the street to arrest others,” she said.
“I couldn’t get away,” she told CP. “I couldn’t walk away from it because of the police [blockade].”
Sterling added, “I couldn’t breathe. My face was burning.”
That was when the NYPD made the mass arrests. Officers pulled over an MTA bus full of passengers, emptied the vehicle and “stuffed” half of the protestors into it.
Sterling said the group was arrested around 3 p.m. and it was not until 1 a.m. that she was finally released.