An article by Reuters criticized the police response to what they term “largely peaceful” May Day OWS protests. But it seems perhaps sympathyzers are too quick to criticize. After all, what the article describes as peaceful is hardly what most would consider to fall under that designation. Some 50 protesters, dressed in black and carrying large sticks broke store windows throughout Oakland, including those on federal buildings, before police removed them.
In New York, though less actively violent, protesters sent “anthrax-scare” envelopes to banks and other financial institutions on Wall Street. Though the envelopes contained no actually dangerous material, it is unsurprising that police might be on edge.
Occupy Clevland, on the whole, showed a much more cooperative attitude in dealing with law enforcement officials this May Day. When four OC protesters were arrested for bomb threats all other movement events were cancelled for the day in an effort to reaffirm their commitment to non-violence.
Other cities, including San Francisco and Portland also participated in May Day demonstrations, both of which were non-violent and non-threatening, and thus much simpler for police to handle. In fact, the Mayor of Portland encouraged protesters and invited them into the Town Hall.
It seems the police are responding with primarily appropriate force, at least they seem to have been on May Day—this isn’t neccesarily true in previous instances of police action. A report, published just before May 1, by what the Huffington Post termed, “an outside monitor of the OPD” concluded that the police were being overly militaristic in their response to protests. Whether or not this conclusion is accurate, the events of Oakland’s May Day protest certainly bring this conclusion into question. After all, police have every right to react, perhaps even militaristically to violent acts of vandalism. There seems to be a fine line between Brutality and necessary force, and while it’s likely the police have crossed it, at one time or another (Huffington Post indicates that OPD shot at an Iraq War Veteran during protests), as protests escalate it seems only fitting that the police response should escalate to accompany the change.