MANHATTAN (CN) – Dozens of human rights groups catalogued 7,000-plus arrests and 130 claims of excessive force to supplement demands for oversight of police units patrolling the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City.
Report collaborators include law clinics based in Harvard University, New York University, Fordham University and other schools. They sent the report to the New York City Police Department, the U.S. Department of Justice and the United Nations on Wednesday.
Sarah Knuckey, an NYU adjunct law professor, claims to have personally witnessed some of the incidents alleged in the 195-page report.
“Recently, officers repeatedly yanked the broken collarbone of a protester as he begged them to stop hurting him,” Knuckey said in a statement. “And just two weeks ago, a phalanx of officers removed a grandmother from a park for the ‘crime’ of knitting in a folding chair, arrested a man trying to help her leave, and then arrested another man filming the incident. These are just two of hundreds of examples we document in our report, demonstrating a pattern of abusive and unaccountable protest policing by the NYPD.”
Prosecutors have been far less aggressive in clamping down on economic crimes than on those who protest them, the researchers say.
“While federal prosecutions of economic crimes, such as mass fraud, are at a 20-year low, in just 10 months, public authorities across the United States have arrested more than 7,000 and physically injured Occupy protestors seeking social and economic reforms,” the report states.
The report calls for the state to appoint an independent inspector general to monitor the NYPD, investigate and prosecute officers who are accused of misconduct, and revamp police guidelines to protect the civil rights of demonstrators.
Without such oversight, the United States could need federal intervention to safeguard its moral standing in the world, said Katherine Glenn, an adjunct professor at Fordham Law.
“The U.S. response to the Occupy movement – which itself emerged as part of a wave of global social justice protests-is being closely watched by other governments,” Glenn said in a statement. “In the face of this international attention, this report shows that New York City’s response actually violates international law and, as such, sets a bad example to the rest of the world. The city now has an opportunity to set this right through reforms that reflect just and accountable policing practices.”
The NYPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.