Photo of the day: police drag #OWS protester by her hair at #N17

NYPD cracking down on Occupy Wall Street protesters near the New York Stock Exchange on the November 17 Day of Action in NYC. Photograph by Jon Tayler (web), Columbia School of Journalism student, reporter, photographer. Via @katz, also as seen on The Awl.



  1. I see the wedding band; pity we can’t read a name and badge number.  I can see the tapping foot, the rolling pin and curlers waiting by the front door even now.

    “Yes, honey, that’s me dragging around a woman by her hair.  But see, she just didn’t know her place…!”

  2. I’ve no problem with what consenting adults do behind closed doors but
    Officer McSadist needs to learn how to keep it there and away from the public.

    1. You beat me by seconds.  That’s just what I was going to say.

      It’s far too easy to jump to the obvious conclusion when shown a photo isn’t it? You have to step back a bit and ask yourself what’s more likely; a policeman trying to assist a member of the public with unruly hairage, or a public servant trying to encourage compliance by pulling hair – that would just be so rude.

  3. Maybe the angle of the photo makes this looks worse than it is. He could just be trying to save that woman from a rabid weasel clamped onto her left shoulder.

      1. Maybe he was reliving fond childhood memories: “Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your hair so I may climb the golden stair” we  have to get the audio to be sure.

    1. I’m pretty sure that he’s trying to keep her from being throttled by the tether line from one of the tent kites.

    2. Weasel? Are you blind!?! That’s obviously a panamanian hair snake.
      She’s lucky an expert on this rare breed was there to galiantly save her life.

      Give that officer another medal.

  4. Surely we can figure out which officer this is. The badge colors have to help narrow it down, and there must be other photos from the same time/area.

    Who knows about police badges?

    Where/when did this pic come from?

    Come one people, this should be easy.

    …Then we can ask the officer to explain! Was it just some consensual hair pushing? Was there a weasel? He has the right to be heard!

    1. “There I was, trying to keep the peace, when this crazy lady violently shoved her ponytail into my hands…”

  5. I personally think the bearded man is really a zombie, and the police man is trying to save this woman, but can’t get a good grip without risking being bit.  

    1. There you go. Another way to read the picture. Somebody should collate all of these alternative plausible explanations, just to show there’s no bias.

  6. I won’t be outraged until it’s an 80 year old Iraq war veteran choking on pepper spray and being dragged by her hair into the sites of the tear gas launcher that will fracture her skull.

  7. I agree, I think he’s pushing her hair. One should not be so quick to jump to conclusions. I mean, look back at the Rodney King tape — when played in reverse, you can see those nice policemen help Mr. King up and send him on his way.

    1. I’ve already heard rumours of the so called ‘magic-hair’ theory (the tubes are so quick these days) – you can see the slight motion blur – the back, and to the left – yes? Back, and to the left. You see it?

  8. It would be nice if photographers managed to get numbers, names, etc, in their shots. Or, more plausibly, multiple pictures– one with the highest emotional or news value, one with the highest evidentiary value.

    1. Maybe police should be chipped, perhaps with RFID tags, so they could be scanned as folk passed ’em. It would be like a friendly gesture.

      Except when they’re working undercover of course – that would be silly. To get their ids in those conditions you’d at least have to subscribe.

  9. A glance at Wikipedia, and it looks as if he’s won three Meritorious Police Duty medals of various kinds, one Excellent Police Duty medal, and a unit citation.  Doesn’t say what they give you for dragging a woman by her hair. [Edit:] Sorry. Pushing.

  10. Have we considered the possibility that everyone in this photograph is four years old, and this is quite normal behavior?

  11. You can clearly see he is pulling on a black strap..
    The hair has either been grabbed with it by accident (the hair is not pulling her head. I suspect the strap is pulling her shoulder) or there may be a little photoshop going on…

    1. You are right.

      He is pulling the black strap of a backpack or bag. If you look at the bottom of the picture, below his right hand, you can clearly see the strap.

      He’s probably performing a Heimlich maneuver using a technique that does not involve groping. He’s trying to save her life! That also explains why all the other nice police officers are wearing helmets: you wouldn’t want whatever is lodged in her throat fly into their helpful faces. The guy with the beard on the right is probably groping her though.

      1. however, from THIS angle we CAN see her newly split earlobe. 

        That’s far more “protect and serve” than hair pulling. Amirite?

  12. any part of a player’s hair that extends from the helmet is considered part of the uniform and is fair game for a tackler.

  13. I love some Masters decorate their guard dogs with arbitrarily-designated bits of stuff called ‘medals’, ‘badges’, and ‘commendations’. The dogs just go nuts for those things — so grateful, loyal, thankful. The urge to maintain the shiny ‘special’ collars also makes the guard dogs maintain a culture of loyalty-hierarchy, so the Master doesn’t have to do it.  Good strategy on the part of the lazy-but-clever owners!

  14. Somebody please fix the title, as a couple of folks have already pointed out, the officer is pulling a strap NOT her hair. 

       Now if he used the strap to drag her down for a curb-stomp that would be a different story, and I’ll be the first to rail against police brutality.  But we have to see evidence first and this isn’t it.

    Summary: nothing to see here, move along…

  15. Anyone know identity of protester? Heard she was from Vermont. guess it doesn’t really matter.

    Look for the recent footage from UC Daley of a ring of seated students being maced, then driving riot cops away shouting “YOU CAN LEAVE”. One of the most amazing OWS vids so far.

    1. Combine that with some social networking and some geotagging and some time stamping and we’d have quite a doo-dad to ID the brutal ones.

  16. I would care about this if the strap he’s clearly pulling on at least matched the color of her hair.

    Seriously, there’s been a slew of horrid shit pulled by cities (especially the politicians playing both sides) and this is not it. By latching onto every shit photo circling twitter it dilutes the impact.

  17. Yea, I think it’s a strap to a backpack. One thing I thought immediately: if someone was to grab my hair and pull me back I wouldn’t look peaceful. It would hurt like hell & I’d be screaming and reaching back to stop it. Just saying. I don’t agree with the police in this at all. They’ve engaged in enough egregious behavior as it is.

  18. Okay, if you object to swearing just let me state that the title of this post does not agree with the picture; the police officer is probably being a jerk but he’s clearly holding a black strap. He does not appear to be “dragging” anyone by their hair. If the title is a quote, put it in, wait for it, quotes and contextualize it. Accuracy matters.

  19. Regardless of whether it’s hair or a strap (and it does appear to be a strap,) if the cops are trying to make these people go away, why is he pulling her towards him instead of pushing her away from him? Reminds me of a certain ex-girlfriend, come to think of it…

  20. On that video it seems like that policetard is clearly provoking the crowd. Perfect excuse to use pepperspray etc.
    Btw that first officer in a row is a female policetard.

  21. the tension is on the strap, not her hair. look at her expression, not the look of a woman who’s hair is being pulled with two hands. there are many clear pictures of police brutality but this is not one of them.

  22. “we CAN see her newly split earlobe”

    You’ve obviously never seen a split earlobe, they bleed like a mofo!  What we see in the picture is simply a dark red colored earring.  It even has a thin metallic edge on both sides if you look closely.  (But I do realize that people often don’t look closely.  :)

  23. Publicize names & locations of all government enforcers so that the far greater number of non-enforcers not approving of enforcement behavior can withdraw all voluntary association if enforcer will not be persuaded to get a truly value producing job. No sales, no service, no camaraderie – NO ANYTHING! SHUN and OSTRACIZE. Make government enforcement –  the initiation of physical force and therefore the harm – an unpopular role. Protests are just not enough:
    When there are far fewer enforcers, government will be able to do far less harm. Remember, that all of the regulations/laws/edicts/directives/rulings/etc of all legislators, executives (including President), judges and bureaucrats are merely words whether uttered in some official government chamber or written in one of the millions of documents issued by any of 3 arms of the federal government, and all the levels in the 50 states. These words only become reality because there *are* government enforcers, those willing to threaten and actually initiate physical force to compel individuals to do something they would not do of their uncoerced choice. And there are plenty of instances, as can easily be seen in this and hundreds of other recent photos/vids, of enforcers initiating physical force – even to the point of death – as they enforce various “orders” from above.

  24. What a WELL DECORATED Officer he seems to be judging by his many medal stacks… What bs, Its a pity it took peaceful protesters being beaten to draw enough attention to how todays police just dont give a fuck and will gladly ruin someones life with injuries or false charges if it will upset you and bring a smile to his face.  

  25. No, he’s just telling you that the cop in question did most likely not, in fact, grab her hair to “drag” her away. See the video above.

    There are enough examples of reprehensible police behavior going on here as it is. Getting people all riled up about something that just didn’t happen does not further anyone’s cause. It just gives your opponents one more angle to attack you.

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