Reports about the size of crowds and the stamina of protesters at Wall Street in New York City vary, but several videos from the “Occupy Wall Street” protests have gone viral and some protesters allege that an overzealous NYPD has been forcefully restraining and even macing peaceful protesters.
Ten days in (the Wall Street protests began September 17th) it seems the movement is gaining steam rather than petering out, with 80 arrests made over the weekend by the NYPD at the site of the demonstrations in downtown Manhattan. 25-year-old Chelsea Elliott is one of the women in the video who is visibly corralled behind orange netting- a crowd control practice known as “kettling”- before, she says, police used mace or pepper spray on the women (who do not appear to be violent), causing them to shriek in pain. Elliott spoke to the New York Times about the incident, video of which has spread violently:
“Out of all the people they chose to spray, it was just me and three other girls,” she said Sunday in a telephone interview. “I’m not pushing against anybody, or trying to escape.”
“A cop in a white shirt — I think he’s a superior officer — just comes along and does these quick little spritzes of pepper spray in my and these three other girls’ eyes.”
NYPD spokesman Paul J. Browne says that the pepper spray was used correctly, and only after protesters tried to prevent the barrier from going up- something Browne says was deliberately left out of the clip:
“Pepper spray was used once,” he added, “after individuals confronted officers and tried to prevent them from deploying a mesh barrier — something that was edited out or otherwise not captured in the video.”
Of the protesters arrested over the weekend, most are expected to be released from jail today.