[New York Monday March 19]
Our photographer ZD Roberts was beaten by New York City cops with nightsticks while covering Occupy Wall Street's attempt to re-take Zuccotti Park Saturday night.
Zach yelled several times, “I’m PRESS! PRESS!” yet was slammed on the head twice after he’d been thrown to the ground when the police shoved back the protesters. Zach, whose photos of Occupy Wall Street have been seen all over the world on the front page of The Guardian, showed his press badge, an act for which his hair was grabbed, head pulled back and slammed again with a club.
If you remember, Zach was arrested while covering the story three months ago. His trial is coming up (he refused to cop a plea).
We’ve covered the world … but who thought that the toughest combat assignment would be New York?
Here’s Zach story and comment in his own words and photos:
My head hurts. The NYPD did this to me.
3 months after my arrest during an Occupy Wall St. protest on #D17 and two days away from my meeting with the Assistant DA about said arrest - I got beaten by cops just outside of Zuccotti Park.
I wasn't the only one, and I have no doubt I won't be the last. The NYPD has complete authority in this town - I hate using the word police state, but when I saw a girl thrown from a bus, in handcuffs, having a seizure being tossed to the ground - I really am at a loss for any other words.
Cameras documented it. Here's one of the photos I took. There's tons of video. I can tell you from being there that there wasn't a single police officer with a look of concern on his/her face as the girl continued having a seizure on the hard pavement of Broadway.
It took 15 minutes for an ambulance to arrive. I'm told 5 minutes is the usual response time in this part of town.
This is Commissioner Ray Kelly's city, we just live here.
There was no ambulance needed for me. I was lucky… or maybe just stupid.
After the second cleansing of Zuccotti Park, Saturday night, the police continued their pushback under the guise of 'safety concerns' - basically a standard operating procedure to keep protesters and journalists from being allowed to witness arrests and to disperse the crowd in different directions.
It works quite well, that is until it doesn't. The thing is, when you're pushing back with billy clubs and metal barricades, sometimes people can't move back quick enough. Or sometimes, people refuse to move from a public sidewalk. Well as a photographer, I get caught in the middle quite often - usually I'm deft enough to get out of the way - this time I wasn't.
I fell back, and while trying to get up - there was another push from the police - they saw me fall, mind you. Just didn't care.
Two or three people made it over me without falling as well, using me as their sidewalk (they didn't have any other choice) - but then came the rush - four or five people fell on top of me.
The police kept pushing. Then came the batons. I couldn't see if the people that were on top of me previously got hit at all but I certainly did, twice to the back and once on the head.
I'm not quite sure what the logic is of literally beating a man when he's down. But once he saw that his baton beating wasn't getting me going he decided to try to pick me up by my hair. That didn't work either - but by then I was up enough to get my footing under me as I continued screaming "PRESS!!! PRESS!!!" That was enough to get the beating to stop - but I still was pushed/thrown back into the crowd, again almost losing my footing as I had to leap over a pile of garbage into the street.
Checking my bag and camera for damage I moved outside of the crowd to compose myself before pushing back in.
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Greg Palast is the author of Vultures' Picnic : In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Carnivores.