Nation of Change’s Communications Director, Sonia Alexander-White, recounts excessive use of police force she witnessed and experienced last week during Occupy Wall Street West:
Brian: Were you participating in protest when you were arrested on January 20th? Why did law enforcement confront you?
Sonia: I was actually just observing occupy participants and when law enforcement locked down the alley way I asked to be let out. I was asked to step back from the officer line and I asked why I couldn’t be let out to the street access. That was when the head officer removed me into custody after grabbing my coat and throwing me.
Brian: What were you doing at the occupy and what were you trying to do?
Sonia: I was conducting interviews and taking pictures with my camera phone just before they formed a riot line that locked me in.
Brian: Were the police violent against you in any way?
Sonia: Yes. They tried to intimidate me while behind the line as if I were a criminal. When I tried to speak they yelled louder for me to stay still. When I asked to be let out because I was looking for our camera man they put their hands on me and threw me to the police van.
Brian: What were law enforcement in the area doing before they encircled and arrested you?
Sonia: They were putting riot gear on and getting their clubs out. The officer that threw me was walking bank executives from a location across the street to the entrance of the Wells Fargo building. Protesters were only marching in that location and not confronting any employees. The police then formed 3 troupes that locked the area down and one large group with a set of police on motorcycles that went into the street forcing themselves against protesters that were just chanting the 99% message.
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Brian: Did you see any police violence against other protesters? What about non participants and passersby?
Sonia: The same officer that threw me also belly clubbed a writer who dropped his iPad in the street. One motorcycle officer ran the front of his bike into a young girl marching in the street. Other officers pushed protesters and on lookers from out of the street into the sidewalks.
Brian: How large was the police presence where you were in and throughout the Occupy?
Sonia: There were hundreds of officers on foot and on motor cycles.
Brian: Some protesters have alleged that some police officers tried to instigate conflict during the demonstrations; did you see any examples of this?
Sonia: Yes. The main officer controlling the 4 corners that pushed me also took the occupy tent and food table for homeless and threw it into the crowd. Officers yelled at simple protesters and presented body contact to intimidate and provoke a fight break out when they were just standing in front of the banks.
For some raw footage of some of the police misconduct, please click here.