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In the Networked World, Police Violence Is a Gift for #OccupyWallStreet Protesters

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, September 29 2011

When Occupy Wall Street — a protest organized largely online to take over some space open to the public in the financial capital of the world here in New York and in so doing voice displeasure with the way big banks and government are handling the global economic crisis — first began on Sept. 17, I noted with skepticism how long the occupation could continue.

The police didn't care. The media didn't care. Without stimuli from the establishment, how would it keep going?

Turns out my skepticism was unfounded — on Sept. 24, the protest had lasted a full week — but my attention to how the police would react was a little prophetic.

On Sept. 24, officers penned in a group of protesters near Union Square using a mobile barrier — "kettling" for regular readers. During that protest, a member of the New York Police Department wearing the white shirt usually worn by officers of high rank — lieutenants, captains, et cetera — used pepper spray on protesters as officers contained them. Then the man, identified in reports as Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna, walked away, leaving some protesters on the ground, crying.

In one video of the incident, one officer — who had been holding the barrier to keep the protesters contained — can even be seen wiping his eyes and heard saying — kids, cover your eyes — "He fuckin' maced us!"

Since the event, Occupy Wall Street's online profile has significantly increased as the videos rack up an ever-increasing number of hits. Mainstream news outlets have begun to cover the protests with more regularity. The investigation into the incident will be a news gem for the local dailies here in New York. In short, Bologna — if it was that person who used pepper spray on the protesters — appears to have done the protesters a huge favor.

After a pepper spray incident, Occupy Wall Street now gets a level of attention on Google somewhere between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner.

On the protest's official website, protesters collected two YouTube videos of the event, and a third in which those two play side-by-side. The video on the left side of the screen gets the "left" track of a stereo audio feed; the video on the right gets the "right" track. The timecodes are matched up so each frame appears to display the same moment in time from two perspectives.

The New York Daily News has more, reporting that hundreds of people are still involved in the protest headquartered at Zuccotti Park.

"The air," write Christina Boyle and John Doyle, "is redolent of ideological disorganization mixed with the unmistakable smell of unwashed humans."