Break the Siege on Gaza Coalition
Police provoke and arrest protesters
January 11, 2009–Today, more than 15,000 people rallied in Times Square to protest Israel’s ongoing assault against the people of Palestine . The demonstration stretched from 42nd Street south to 38 Street, along 7th Ave , and was followed by a spirited march past the New York Times building to the Time Warner building on 58th Street where CNN’s New York office is located.
Organizers reported provocative and hostile police behavior throughout the event. Police massed at the end of the march route began cursing, taunting and attacking protesters. One uniformed cop was reported as yelling, “Why don’t you all blow yourselves up?”
Eyewitnesses reported that the police used pepper spray in an unprovoked assault on the protesters including teenagers and children as young as ten years old. Others were pushed and struck by police.
At least 30 people were arrested during the day, and everyone who was arrested was beaten by police, some severely. Most were arrested while simply trying to leave at the end of the march, when police charged and began arresting and beating people.
One provocateur grabbed a Palestinian flag and began trampling on it. When onlookers attempted to retrieve the flag, they were attacked and nine were arrested.
Organizers are reporting that the attacks and arrests clearly targeted Arab youth. Lamis Deek, human rights attorney and co-chair of Al-Awda New York, said, “The systematic pattern of attacks and provocations and the sudden appearance of police amass at the end of the march were clearly a message from City Hall. This police riot was clearly on orders from Mayor Bloomberg, who just returned from Israel where he cheered on the attacks against the people of Gaza , and who is clearly trying to intimidate the mass protests that have taken place here, and will continue to take place. But these tactics will not keep us off the streets. We outnumbered the rally in support of Israel ‘s crimes by a hundred to one.”
***As this is being written, we have received reports that an undetermined number of people, including children, are still being held by the NYPD. Please call the NYPD and demand the release of all who were arrested at the protest today!
We have been informed that some of those arrested will be arraigned tomorrow morning – please pack the court at 100 Centre Street in Manhattan at 9 am!