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US police raid two Occupy camps November 30, 2011

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Police arrested a number of people as they moved in to clear the site

US police have raided Occupy Wall Street camps in Los Angeles and Philadelphia, arresting over 200 people and tearing up tent cities.

In Los Angeles, about 1,400 police officers took part in the late-night operation outside City Hall – two days after an eviction deadline had passed.

In Philadelphia, nearly all of the demonstrators left before the police started pulling down tents.

The evictions appeared to have been carried out without any major violence.

Over 150 protesters were arrested in Los Angeles, police told the BBC, while about 50 arrests were made in Philadelphia.

‘Walk the walk’

Police in Los Angeles, some in riot gear, left the steps of City Hall just after midnight to begin breaking down the two-month-old camp.

Protesters who refused to leave were pulled out one by one and arrested by police.

One of the demonstrators was reportedly wrestled to the ground, with the crowd shouting: “Police brutality!”

Beanbag projectiles were used to remove the final three protesters – who were in a makeshift tree house, according to police commander Andrew Smith. No serious injuries were reported.

Occupy LA protesters stayed in the camp for two months

Some protesters sat in a circle on the lawn outside City Hall, their arms interlinked, saying they would rather be arrested than leave.

“It’s easy to talk the talk, but you gotta walk the walk,” Opamago Cascini was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

But by Wednesday morning much of the camp was deserted, with tents strewn over the grass.

Concrete barriers were put up temporarily around the park. By 05:10 local time (13:10 GMT) the park was clear of protesters, LAPD officer Cleon Joseph told AFP.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa earlier said he hoped to avoid the confrontations between police and protesters that have marred evictions in other cities.

Mr Villaraigosa issued the eviction order, saying the camp was unsustainable because public health and safety could not be maintained.

In Philadelphia, police started breaking up the camp late at night after repeatedly warning the protesters to leave.

Most of the campers agreed to leave voluntarily, and dozens of them later staged a rally on a nearby street.

City officials earlier said the camp must be cleared to make room for a $50m (£32m) renovation project.

Occupy Wall Street demonstrators have staged rallies in a number of US cities since the movement against inequality began two months ago.

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Black Friday sales start with pepper spray stampede November 25, 2011

Shoppers in the US kicked off their annual “Black Friday” orgy of consumerism amid scenes of pushing, pulling, running and – in one case – pepper-spraying their way through the doors of the nation’s shops and malls.

The annual tradition, when many stores open early with cut-price sales on the day after Thanksgiving, has become a source of controversy amid frequent scenes of near-rioting and injuries as mobs of people crowd into big-name shops.

But few can have expected even the most determined of bargain-hunters to adopt the brutal tactics of one female shopper in a Los Angeles suburb who attacked her rivals with pepper-spray: a substance more recently associated with police brutality against Occupy Wall Street protesters.

At least 20 people, including several children, were injured as the woman deployed her weapon. “I heard screaming and I heard yelling. Moments later my throat stung. I was coughing really bad,” said Matthew Lopez, a shopper who recounted his story to the Los Angeles Times.

The woman, whom witnesses said appeared to be defending an X-Box games console, has not been found or yet identified. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the gigantic store remained open amid the mayhem and other shoppers continued to roam the aisles filling their trolleys with goods.

The incident occurred late on Thanksgiving evening as the Walmart – like some other stores – had pushed back its Black Friday opening to begin late on Thursday.

The day gets its name from the idea that the period after Thanksgiving marks the part of the year when many shops finally get in the “black” and start turning a profit for the year.

But America in 2011 is stranded in a moribund economy marked by sluggish growth and a headline jobless rate stuck around 9%. Many retailers have pinned their hopes on a strong shopping season in the run up to Christmas and will be looking pouring through data from Black Friday for signs of increased spending.

Experts expect 152m people to hit the shops over the Black Friday weekend, up 27% on last year, with many retailers hoping for a desperately needed shot-in-the-arm to consumer spending in a still battered economy.

Even Apple, which has until now eschewed a discounting policy, cut its prices for one day on Friday.

Elsewhere in America the queues and rush to get through the doors was a little more steady and less violen than in Los Angeles. There were several shooting incidents, in Florida and in North Carolina, but it was far from clear these were directly linked to Black Friday shopping.  

Yet, despite the problems, millions of people queued up outside stores in order to be first inside and snap up some of the bargains on offer on anything from TVs and consumer electronics to fashion and furniture. At Macy’s in New York an estimated 9,000 people waited in the street for a midnight opening.

In recent years, as media coverage of the event has grown and scenes of rioting and stampedes have become more common, Black Friday has drawn its share of criticism.

However, this year, as the Occupy movement has sprung up across the country, shoppers in some parts of America have also been joined by protesters trying to persuade them to put down their bags and go home, or at least avoid large chains and shop smaller and more locally.

Some campaigners called for a boycott of stores by consumers, though judging by the mayhem and huge queues that had little impact. Elsewhere protests were held at stores. At Macy’s in Manhattan a small group of people chanted “Occupy it, don’t buy it” to waiting shoppers.

In places such as Seattle protesters planned to hold rallies outside Walmarts in the city. In the small city of Boise, Idaho, a local Occupy group aimed to dress up as the undead to symbolise “consumer zombies”.

In Iowa “flash mobs” of protesters were set to target malls to try and convince shoppers to stay or away or think more politically about their purchases.

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Oakland port is shut down by Occupy protesters November 3, 2011

Protesters shut down operations at Oakland’s port on Wednesday in demonstrations against economic inequality and police brutality, which turned tense as the night wore on.

The protest by 5,000 people fell short of paralysing the northern California city that has been at the forefront of anti-Wall Street protests after a former US marine was badly wounded during a march.

But as evening fell, an official said maritime operations at the Oakland port, which handles about $39bn (£24bn) a year in imports and exports, had been “effectively shut down”.

“Maritime area operations will resume when it is safe and secure to do so,” the port said in a statement.

A port spokesman said officials hoped to reopen the facility on Thursday morning.

Protesters, who streamed across an overpass to gather in front of the port gates, stood on top of tractor-trailers stopped in the middle of the street.

Others climbed on to scaffolding over rail tracks as a band played a version of the Led Zeppelin song Whole Lotta Love, using amplifiers powered by stationary bike generators.

“The reason I’m here is I’m sick and tired of trying to figure out where I should put my vote between the lesser of two evils,” student Sarah Daniel, 28, said at the port.

The atmosphere turned tense after a protester was apparently struck by a car in downtown Oakland, and incorrect reports spread that the person had died. Acting Oakland police chief, Howard Jordan, later said the pedestrian was taken to a local hospital for treatment of injuries that were not life-threatening.

As the night wore on, small groups were seen in local TV images running through the streets, trying to start small fires or climbing on top of moving television news vans.

At one point, several people appeared to force open the driver’s-side door of a news van, but after a few tense moments the door closed again and the van drove away safely.

The anti-Wall Street activists, who complain bitterly about a financial system they believe benefits mainly corporations and the wealthy, aim to disrupt commerce with a special focus on banks and other symbols of corporate America.

The demonstrations centred on Frank H Ogawa Plaza adjacent to city hall, scene of a standoff last week between police and protesters.

Protesters, prior to marching on the port, also blocked the downtown intersection of 14th street and Broadway, where ex-marine Scott Olsen was seriously wounded with a head injury during a clash with police on 25 October.

Windows were smashed at several Oakland banks and a Whole Foods market, with pictures of the damage posted on Twitter.

Few uniformed police officers were spotted at the rallies, but Jordan said demonstrators would not be allowed to march beyond the gates of the port. He blamed the vandalism and unruliness on a small group he identified as anarchists.

Local union leaders, while generally sympathetic to the protesters, said their contracts prohibited them from proclaiming an official strike.

Oakland Unified School District spokesman, Troy Flint, said more than 300 teachers had stayed home, most of those having made formal requests the night before.

“We did have to scramble a little bit to cover the extra absences,” Flint said, adding that some classes were combined but no students were left unsupervised.

Other residents such as Rebecca Leung, 33, who works at an architectural lighting sales company, went about their ordinary activities. Leung said she generally supported the protests.

“I don’t really feel striking is necessary. I work for a small company, I don’t work for Bank of America,” she said.

The owner of a flower shop near the plaza protest site, meanwhile, said weeks of noisy rallies and ongoing encampment had hurt his small business.

“Business has not been the same. Everything has gone downhill around here, the noise, the ambience and the customers,” the man, who identified himself as Usoro, said. “I can’t afford to close down.”

Olsen remains in an Oakland hospital in a stable condition.

Protest organisers say Olsen, 24, was struck by a teargas canister fired by police. Jordan opened an investigation into the incident but has not said how he believes Olsen was hurt.

Elsewhere, the mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, told Wall Street protesters he would take action if circumstances warranted, saying the encampments and demonstrations were “really hurting small businesses and families”.

In downtown Seattle, about 300 rain-soaked protesters blocked the street outside the Sheraton hotel where Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of the biggest US bank, JPMorgan Chase Co, was speaking at an event.

Earlier in the day, five protesters were arrested for trespassing after chaining themselves to fixtures inside a Chase bank branch, Seattle police said.

In Los Angeles, several hundred protesters marched through the downtown area in solidarity with their Oakland counterparts, while in Virginia protesters bought alarm whistles at their encampment in a public park in Charlottesville because women were concerned about their safety overnight.

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Iraq War Vet Shames Police at Occupy Wall Street October 20, 2011

October 19, 2011

by legitgov


Iraq War Vet Shames Police at Occupy Wall Street –After observing police activity at this weekend’s Occupy Wall Street protests, Sgt. Shemar Thomas says he saw better treatment of rioters in Iraq. –‘This is not a war zone. They don’t have guns. Why are you hurting these people?’ 19 Oct 2011 As the crowds continue to swell at the Occupy Wall Street protests, so are the incidents of police brutality against the demonstrators. This weekend, however, after former U.S. Marine and Iraq war veteran Sgt. Shemar Thomas saw innocent protesters being hit with batons, he decided that enough was enough. “I saw a woman and a man getting hit with a baton. That infuriated me,” he told ABC News following the incident. After becoming “infuriated,” Thomas began shouting at police directly, saying, “These are unarmed people. It doesn’t make you tough to hurt these people.”

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