Something great happened on the way to Occupy Wall Street. He was a Hispanic citizen of New York City, and he wanted to see what was going on down there. He had received a call from a protestor, desperately pulling him to observe the brute force with which the city was “cleaning house.” His wife, who was counting on him to make his daughter’s college application interview, begged him, “Please, just don’t get arrested.” He reassured her that of course he would not get arrested. After all, who would arrest him?
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NYPD Police Brutality Against NYC Council Member at Occupy Wall Street (OWS)
He arrived and purposefully avoided the crowd to keep out of harm’s way, his wife’s words echoing in his mind. He walked across the street on Broadway, where he said there were no protesters. He approached police officers and told them who he was and asked to have closer access to the situation. They denied him initially, but he wanted to make sure they knew who he was, because that should matter. They would not even open their ears as they pushed him with brute force, using batons, and treating him like a common criminal. That’s when one officer acted on a sort of passion; he was apparently pretty psyched up for the day, his chance to bust some heads I suppose.
City Council Representative Ydanis Rodriguez was forced to the ground, with his head repeatedly smashed against it. After giving him some of the business that little men with small voices take daily, the cocky cops arrested him too. They would have nothing to do with his pleas. With the same disrespect that they first faced him, they forced him into a police van and let him sit there bleeding for two hours. It was 13 hours before he was allowed to speak with an attorney, and 18 hours before his ordeal ended and we could learn about it. Here’s Representative Rodriguez’s personal account of the ordeal:
"They kept pushing," Rodriguez said. 'The force was so strong when they were pushing me. Then suddenly a police officer jumped from the middle of the street. He threw his body in front of me and started hitting my head on the street. ... I was assaulted by NY police officers." The police account of the confrontation was quite different than the respected representative’s view. The police complaint filed against him, which includes a count of resisting arrest, alleges:Rodriguez walked up to metal barriers on the southeast corner of Maiden Lane and Broadway and declared he was going to go through. When an officer told him he could not proceed, he said he would anyway, and made contact with a female police officer--knocking her of balance. Like any poor sucker from 125th street and up, who gets caught up at the wrong place at the wrong time knows, and as Rodriguez’s attorney stated, “the complaint is a product of fiction.”
Representative Rodriguez wasn’t alone that day, as countless others were arrested matter of factly like him and with disregard for American law and human rights. Also, the incident itself is not an isolated one to the day only. It happens daily in New York City and probably in other cities across the country as well. It is in fact a problem that I want to use this example to expose very clearly. I want you to remember it, because some day, this same injustice could happen to you when you are deemed by your protectors and maybe even legislators as a threat for simply voicing your opinion, which is your American right. Don’t you forget that!
And if it happens to you, and you are not a public figure, you will find it much more difficult to overcome than Representative Rodriguez. It will do more than just spoil your day. It can effectively ruin you, especially if you are poor and can’t afford good legal defense. You may have to accept a plea deal, admitting to doing something that is a complete lie just to more economically escape the ordeal. How would this record affect the rest of your life, one in which employers have a large pool to choose from that includes people without such an incident.
This is what many Americans face daily and it is a form of persecution, and it is unfair! A pool of mostly minorities is buried by this system, this free license the police have to lie and to arrest on a whim; it is an injustice they apply in the name of justice. You see, police officers are only men, as faulty as any other man, believe it or not.
In their defense, each morning they go to work knowing it could be their last day. Each “call” they make could bring upon them an assailant determined to take their life. And so they enter situations with that in mind. It affects them and how they work. However, they have also allowed an improper mentality to dictate how they approach every situation. There are instances, like the one we’re discussing today and even less intense situations, in which a certain evil overcomes them and they dictate what is right and what is wrong, and abuse their power.
This has to change, and it will only change when public figures stop defending the police, which they do with reckless abandon against human rights. In this case, the Deputy Mayor took to the defense of the police officers, even against the clear report of the distinguished representative. If he could dare to do so in this instance even, then what does a police officer have to fear. The system has his back, and he can do no wrong. He is the God of the street. Instead, the system of checks and balances needs to be enforced. It is a privilege to be a police officer, and there is a long line of unemployed people willing to take the job. We’re not doing anybody any favors by giving free reign to brutality.
In Greece, when a police officer shot an unarmed teenager at point blank range a few years ago, every teenager and almost everybody else stormed to the streets and set fire to them. They burned down police stations even, and they forced the government to review the police officers involved and the entire system. Is that what it’s going to take here? I think none of us wants that, but some sort of pressure must be applied to the government to ensure the proper and fair enforcement of power.
Thus, this great injustice served to a representative of the government is a sort of blessing. He has witnessed firsthand what happens to the little men of New York City daily. We hope that Representative Rodriguez, enriched with this wisdom, will help to restore order to the NYPD, because he is in a position (and it seems chosen) to make a difference for all of us.
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