Police raid on Occupy DC

Quinn Norton's first-person account of the police raid on Occupy DC for Wired is riveting and scary. The Occupy camp that was demolished was riven by a deep disagreement on tactics and politics, and the police raid was a dramatic change from the good relations the camp had enjoyed with local law enforcement.

Screams of anger, panic, and pain began to cut through the grey air, and I managed to get back into the crowd a bit, away from the police. In the midst of the pressed and screaming crowd I saw two occupiers, Mo and Georgia, find each other, and hug. They stayed there, oblivious to the cacophony around them, both their eyes glassy and vacant and a little too wide open.

I grabbed a woman I recognized from the info tent and pointed to them. “Get them out of here,” I told her. She just looked at me for a moment in the chaos, and I repeated, “Get them the fuck out of here.” She nodded and grabbed them, still hugging. I spun around, and the riot line was on me. Pushed from every direction, I tripped over something behind me which turned out to be a person on the ground. The officer in front of me screamed “Move back!” but other people were falling on the fallen, and there was no way to move back without trampling them, and no way to stay without being trampled.

Occupy DC Evicted From a Winter of Communal Discontent


  1. Excuse me for sounding naive, but why do the cops always have to be such thugs? Surely there’s a way to clear a relatively peaceful crowd like that and not be complete dicks about it.

    1. All cops, basically without exception, fall into one of two categories;  corrupt thugs, and cowards who won’t stand up to corrupt thugs.  Internal Affairs seems to be universally reviled by cops, so perhaps IA is the exception.  

      It shouldn’t come as a shock that when a large group of corrupt thugs and cowards get the green light to crush skulls that they act like dicks in their own distinct way.  The corrupt thugs yell, scream, make up charges, and maliciously hurt people, and the corrupt cowards look the other way.

      Is there some other way of creating a police force?  Do there exists police forces in this world that are not entirely made up of corrupt thugs and corrupt cowards?  Maybe in other places in this world it exists, but I can’t even imagine a place where if one police officer says “he is resisting arrest!” and proceeds to beat up someone who isn’t resisting arrest, that the other officers in the area would not only stop him, but turn him in, testify against the corrupt cop, and that corrupt cop has to serve time like any other criminal.  That sure as shit doesn’t happen in America, ever.

      1. It is much harder to turn on the people you know, and trust to cover your back during a situation, than someone you have never seen before and may never see again. It is what makes us humans pack animals.

        1. Be that as it may, it is also what makes the statement “all cops are corrupt and should not be trusted” true.

          1. More that big city cops can’t be trusted because of built in limitations in human brains. Not saying that small town cops can’t go bad on a power high. But it is much harder when you know the person your arresting (and the arrested is also less likely to put up a fight as long as there is no ill blood between the two).

      2. “All cops, basically without exception, fall into one of two categories;  corrupt thugs, and cowards who won’t stand up to corrupt thugs.”

        Should we really be painting a picture of all officers with such a large brush? Isn’t that what we loathe them for doing?

        1. I don’t know. What is the history of adopting the techniques of one’s opponents? My instinct is that aside from violence it doesn’t matter much.

        2. Yes, we should pain with such a broad brush when the evidence overwhelming points to it being true.  I have handed out a pretty easy method of disproving the statement.  Find one instance where the following happened and I’ll concede not every single cop is a corrupt piece of shit.  

          1) A cop falsely arrested someone for “resisting arrest” or “assaulting an officer”, and another officer turned them in.
          2) The civilian in question wasn’t someone of political power and was not severely injured.
          3) The other officer on the scene that turned the corrupt in question without prompting by an investigation already in progress.

          Find one instance.  Seriously, this is pretty fucking basic.  It can’t be argued that “assaulting an officer” and “resisting arrest” are thrown around pretty much with impunity all the time and that it only gets investigated when someone has their skull cracked or completely undeniable video evidence is provided by a civilian.  Can you show one instance where another officer had enough integrity to declare that wrong, and seek justice? Find one, and I’ll amend my statement to “nearly all police are corrupt pieces of shit”.

        3. Should we really be painting a picture of all officers with such a large brush?

          What is ‘yes’, Alex?

          You want to show some examples of ‘good’ cops turning the bad cops in?  Because you’re going to have to do some serious digging to find them.

          1. I realize since my opinions are in the minority on this site that I am not allowed the same use of idiom as those in the majority. That being said, in all seriousness, why the dogma that if one’s bad their all bad? If I responded in kind then we could use that same logic on OWS. 

            …Some in OWS are prone to criminal activity so they all must be criminals….

            I know this is NOT true just as much as you do. What I don’t understand is why you argue your cause with that logic, and turn around and argue agianst someone useing this same logic on your movement?

            In the end I have to ask how this view benefits the OWS movement? Viewing  this class or group of people as sub-human, and/or not deserving of dignity just strikes me as antithetical to the movement’s own high-minded rhetoric of inclusiveness.   

            So what does the 99% include, if as you’re doing here, already dividing the pie based upon your own personal notions? No leaders, No Police, No Military, No… 

    2.  Do you think the Occupiers would have left if the police had not resorted to the highest level of force? Nothing short of the severest force can dislodge us. That’s part of the whole point, to show how civil authorities will protect the 1% against the rest of us who are merely exercising our rights to assembly and petition.

      Every forcible eviction means that we are winning. The harder they fight us the better we seem.

  2. I live here and if anything can be said about OccupyDC’s relationship with DC police (MPD) it would say it was a very good relationship. This raid was done by the US Park police who had a somewhat different relationship with the group. All that being said I have to add that OccupyDC didn’t go out of their way to endear themselves to the National Park Service who is responsible for this park. I have mixed feelings about their efforts; but this story, while dramatic, illustrates the nature of this form of protest.

  3. OWS in Oakland has become about the police. A dead end. D-e-a-d. But, hey, it’s still a great way to meet like-minded people offline.

    1. The police are the ones tasked with defending the status quo, punishing dissent, protecting the privileges and the stolen wealth of the ruling class, and keeping the poor, womyn, minorities, and so on down.

      So why shouldn’t people protest the police as much as the politicians and the plutocrats?

      They depend on each other. They can’t do much without each other. The politicians can sometimes be the worst though, buddy-buddying with known Nazis and giving them speaking venues at places like CPAC, and passing laws criminalizing immigrants, trans folks, and other minorities, or calling for murder like that Tennessee politician did.

  4. Why are the police raiding the thin air?  According to the mainstream media and the stooges who believe the lies they’re fed, the OWS movement is DEAD and buried?

    Why are you chasing ghosts, cops?

    Hmmm….  and what’s all this?

    1. According to your link, NY is keeping the faith. In Oakland, they’ve not just been physically kettled, they’ve been psychologically kettled into ceding the high ground of the original mission (we’re for the 99) and making it Us vs Police, a losing proposition.

      1. In Oakland, they’ve not just been physically kettled, they’ve been psychologically kettled into ceding the high ground of the original mission

        Your monolithic info diet isn’t cutting it. Try expanding your horizons a bit?


        Or keep parroting the mainstream media, it’s up to you.

        1.  Cow: True. I live here. I read the local papers, the Chron and the Trib and I watch the local news programs. You must live around, too, because you know a lot about what’s happening in Oakland. I know you couldn’t possibly rely on that OWS link for all your local info and then tell me I’m brainwashed. That would be too ironic.

  5. I was there that day as an occupier, as I have been since the Brooklyn Bridge arrests on October 1. This article does an incredibly good job of casting the internal functions and relationships of the camp in McPherson Square in an accurate light, and I thank Quinn Norton for that.  It’s worth adding that Metro PD helped with the eviction by using horse-mounted officers (somewhat violently in my opinion). The Park Police also masterfully lied to the media that day by saying an officer was hit in the face with a brick, when it was actually a plastic coke bottle as their court filings revealed. This effectively hijacked the media presence in their favor on a pretty horrible day for a lot of people. 

    McPherson wasn’t without its problems and internal conflicts, but I can hardly remember a time when the sense of community was compromised. If I can emphasize something that Mr. Norton only got a taste of, it was this same sense of community. I come from a white suburban background where we’re taught people are strangers until proven otherwise, but McPherson was something else. Everyone had mutual respect for one another, and it didn’t matter if you were wearing a suit an tie after coming from work or you were wearing worn surplus store camo. Your sense of worth with respect to other people came from your own sense of worth and dedication to building the movement in whatever ways you could. In other words, respect was paid forward, then either reinforced or not afterward. While things weren’t utopian by a long shot, I do like to think there was a kernel of a more fulfilling society in all of the deference, and that’s what I’ll miss most. We lost our camp, and in that a part of our community, but I can safely say that these 4 months in McPherson were some of the most important of my life, especially at a time when the 40 hour work week was starting to dig its claws of complacency in. This was a big loss, but the occupiers I’ve spoken to think this is just the end to the beginning. Nothing’s really changed — shit is still fucked up and bullshit — so I’d have to agree.

    As an aside, my respect for police has deteriorated to almost nothing. In September, I was a believer that most cops were good and there were a few “bad eggs”. After the Brooklyn Bridge, the OccuBarn and numerous encounters, that picture changed pretty quickly. Now, after the eviction, any respect is completely gone.  It wasn’t even the baton jabs to the ribs or the riot shield hits to the face when we were sitting peacefully in a god damn park; it was the understanding that the police, good or bad, have necessarily offered away their right to autonomous, rational thought, to a higher authority (their bosses, their bosses’ bosses, and so on…) and the often arbitrary laws that ‘inform’ them. I can no longer respect anyone who gives himself/herself away when it conflicts with better judgment, including myself.

    I realize this all comes off as self-righteous, but hopefully the indignation and idea of what we’ve been robbed of transcends that.

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