27 January 2014, 13:17

US protest policy: somewhat inconsistent

US protest policy: somewhat inconsistent

The growing unrest is spreading over Ukraine, with antigovernment demonstrators turning violent – they are seizing administration buildings, throwing Molotov cocktails at police and building barricades. Police are not showing much resistance, as the authorities are trying to find a compromise. Moreover, any slightest move by police, even self-defense, triggers condemnation by foreign politicians who threaten the Ukrainian government with sanctions. 

The US has already denied visas to a number of Ukrainian officials and threatens to freeze their accounts. Meanwhile, action of Kiev’s Berkut special military unit is a far cry from what American police did with Occupy Wall Street protesters.

Occupy unrest gripped the US over two years ago. It all started in September 2011 in the financial heart of New York and quickly spread to other cities and states, having united people of all jobs and ages who took it to streets against social inequality. In two weeks, police detained some100 people during a march across Brooklyn Bridge. This triggered arrests across other volatile states: Pennsylvania, Utah, Oregon, California – hundreds were sent to jail simply for holding banners, to say nothing of setting police officers on fire.

"That's my handcuffs, I was arrested during the protest on the bridge on October 1st. I'm protesting against wars. In the US the military-industrial complex and the Wall Street work in harness".

But protesters grew in numbers as well as their geography expanded. In three weeks, Washington, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Sal Lake City, Los Angeles and even the neighboring Canada were in the flames of riots. In November, police began to disperse crowds and clear their tent cities – it took them one hour to demolish one in Oakland, California, – it was a shock for the protesters.

"It seems like the mayor of Oakland has no idea what to do. There is no excuse for the violent dispersal of a peaceful march".

Almost in all cities gripped by protests police resorted to tear gas, batons, rubber bullets and water cannons – hundreds reported abuse. Eric was among them – he was detained for 36 hours and beaten.

"Police response has been overly violent and brutal. They maced 5 women, they collected them around a net and then maced them. And they were not even warned".

Things settled down a bit only by Spring, only to spark again on September 17 – then hundreds encircled the New York Stock Exchange building on Wall Street and 180 were arrested. 

"We were arrested at 8 am and were released only at 4 pm. There were many protestors at the police station, people were just captured from the streets. Police are trying to intimidate us".

Then, the US authorities saw nothing undemocratic in actions by its police but keeps judging other government for similar moves. Thus, Oakland police, having arrests almost one hundred people, still claims freedom of speech rules in the city.

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