One of the women maced during the “Occupy Wall Street” protests on Saturday has spoken out about her assault by an NYPD officer and the arrest of at least 80 people taking a stand against the “greed and corruption of the one percent.”
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.
Her Miranda rights were not read and according to Sterling, one officer said, “This was to teach them a lesson so they wouldn’t go back to protesting."
Sterling stated that what began as a march for a “chance” [for more job opportunities] – a chance recent graduates that can’t find a job don’t have – ended in her arrest and a disorderly conduct charge.
“That’s the main reason I was marching,” she told CP. “I’m really lucky I’m working now, but there are many people who want that chance and aren’t getting it.”
Sterling added, “As a country that boasts [to be] one of the freest nations on earth, what happened Saturday is an embarrassment.”
Hacking activist group Anonymous has identified the NYPD officer who maced the women to be Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna.
NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said officers had “appropriately” used the pepper spray, The Washington Post reported.
Browne also claimed that the video recording of the incident was tampered with. He alleged that the footage showing protestors’ attempt to stop police from putting up the mesh barrier had been taken out.
Civil rights advocates and protesters however, say the police overreacted and the situation did not call for such unnecessary force or pepper spray.
“Occupy Wall Street”, as described on https://occupywallst.org, is a leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders, and political persuasions. It has one commonality: “We are the 99 percent that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the one percent.”