NEW YORK -- In recent weeks, the repeated use of pepper spray by police officers against Occupy Wall Street protesters has elicited widespread criticism.
Whether it's September's use of pepper spray against young demonstrators in New York's Union Square or last weekend's forceful confrontation with seated student protesters on the University of California, Davis campus, many critics have questioned the deployment of such tactics against a largely peaceful and nonviolent movement.
Meanwhile, in Seattle, a recent crackdown against Occupy protesters may have claimed its latest victim.
On Monday, The Stranger, a Seattle-based alternative weekly newspaper, reported that one Occupy Seattle protester allegedly suffered a miscarriage. She said police used pepper spray and hit her in the stomach.
"I was standing in the middle of the crowd when the police started moving in," Jennifer Fox, 19, told The Stranger. "I was screaming, 'I am pregnant, I am pregnant. Let me through. I am trying to get out.'"
Fox is reportedly homeless, living in the Occupy Seattle encampment in Westlake Park without a working cellphone.
The Stranger reported that immediately following last week's incident, Fox was rushed to the Harborview Medical Center in downtown Seattle, where Fox said doctors performed a routine ultrasound and didn't discover any cause for alarm.
But on Monday, after experiencing cramping and nausea, The Stranger reported that Fox returned to Harborview Medical Center, where she was later diagnosed as having suffered a miscarriage once the fetus' heartbeat was no longer detected.
As of Tuesday evening, Fox had neither provided medical records to substantiate her claim, nor filed a formal complaint with the Seattle Police Department.
But despite the lack of a formal complaint, a Seattle Police Department spokesman confirmed to HuffPost that police are launching a formal investigation into the matter.
"We are aware of a claim that a pregnant woman who attended the Nov. 15 Occupy Seattle march has been treated for a miscarriage," said the SPD spokesman. "Consistent with standard procedure, the Office of Professional Accountability has initiated an internal investigation to look into the matter further."
In the coming days, investigators will be actively searching for information to support Fox's claim, the spokesman confirmed.
Until more information is made available, Kathleen Taylor, executive director of the ACLU of Washington, told HuffPost that she remains troubled by what she perceives as an uptick of pepper spray use by members of law enforcement against the movement's protesters nationwide.
"The police have the authority to use force when it's necessary to prevent physical harm, but the use of pepper spray against non-violent protesters raises very serious questions," said Taylor, who highlighted the Seattle Police Department's policy of not using pepper spray and tasers as a first line of defense.
"We condemn police violence in other countries," Taylor said. "Let's first be sure our own house is in order."
UPDATE: 11/23 8:30 a.m. -- On Tuesday night, the Seattle Times raised further questions around whether Fox had indeed suffered a miscarriage.
In an interview at the Occupy Seattle encampment, the Seattle Times reports that while Fox said she had in her possession three ultrasound pictures of her unborn fetus, she refused to reveal them to members of the media.
The Seattle Times further reports that Fox indicated that she neither planned to retrieve her medical records nor planned to sign a waiver that would allow reporters to access such records independently.
In addition, Lark Stebbins, Fox's former foster mother of 10 years, said she had a prolonged history of exaggeration.
"My daughter is a compulsive liar," Stebbins told the Seattle Times. "She's a wannabe drama queen."
Latest Updates On HuffPost's Live Blog:
Via HuffPost Miami:
When an Occupy Miami member offered evicted protestors vacant apartments in a building he owns in Downtown Miami's Overtown neighborhood, it seemed like the perfect solution: the 'Peace City' space would provide headquarters for the movement and shelter a small faction of the group's most vulnerable members. But it hasn't gone well. Other tenants say the building has become a cesspool of drug use and violence while non-resident Occupy Miami members are trying to distance themselves from the 'radicals' -- all while the two factions are wrestling for control over Occupy Miami's social media sites and future plans.
The feud between the Overtown occupiers and more mainstream members has only gotten worse. The two factions are now battling for control of Occupy Miami's social media sites. The movement's main Twitter account recently announced it had been "hijacked by a small, non-consensus group of radical members." The Occupy Miami Facebook page was also temporarily hacked by someone inside Peace City. Meanwhile, the Overtown occupation is slowly driving away more moderate members.
"This is a black eye on the Occupy movement," says Shannon Reaze, an Overtown community organizer and Occupy Miami supporter who is now helping tenants move out of Paz's building. "The violence and drugs going on here are way outside of what I thought Occupy stood for. This place is destabilized."
...The supposedly hard-core activists here spend their days drinking and getting high. And as Peace City devolves into lawlessness, the most committed occupiers are leaving. Local landowners and politicians want the place shut down, while cops are suspicious. Yet as long as Paz wants the protesters around, nothing short of a demolition order can keep them out.
Via HuffPost DC:
WASHINGTON -- Occupy DC has a new lawsuit involving tents on its hands. But it doesn't involve temporary structures in McPherson Square.
Two protesters arrested during a February action outside Merrill Lynch's offices on 15th Street NW near McPherson Square have filed suit against the Metropolitan Police Department, Legal Times reports. (Read the complaint here.)
The plaintiffs, Samuel Dukore and Kelly Canavan, were part of a "targeted occupation" of Merrill Lynch on Feb. 13 where protesters were raising awareness about Merrill Lynch's reportedly close ties with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). Issa, for his part, claims that the reports of these close ties are "wildly inaccurate."
Full story here.
OWS reports via its website:
After the brutal attack on the attempted re-occupation of Liberty Square by NYPD on the 6-month anniversary of #OWS, a number of Occupiers have relocated their base of occupation to Union Square in midtown Manhattan, a point of convergence for several #OWS protests over the past 6 months.
According to reports on the ground, several dozen people slept in the park after the illegal and violent raid on Liberty Square. Over 70 people remain, now on Day 3. Although tents and tables are still banned, Occupiers have brought blankets and sleeping gear. Many are calling it ¨the new Occupation.¨ In addition to holding General Assemblies, Union Square Occupiers are providing vital jail support for those arrested on #M17 as they are released from NYPD custody. So far, the NYPD has made no attempt to remove Occupiers or prevent them from sleeping in the park.
Occupy Long Beach is defending the mother's home. For more information, click here.
Cecily McMillan, an Occupy Wall Street activist once profiled in Rolling Stone, suffered a seizure Saturday night during protest action near Zuccotti Park. Many on-scene reported Ms. McMillan had trouble breathing after she was tackled and handcuffed by law enforcement.
A video uploaded to Youtube late Saturday night purports to show the attack. Two women can be heard commenting, “There’s Cecily,” then there is confusion as the police clearly perform a violent take-down on someone in the crowd.
According to Jeff Sharlet’s November, 2011 article about the Occupy Movement, this may be Ms. McMillan’s second violent encounter with police.
To read the full story, go here.
Cops caught on video about 10 seconds in taking down the woman who had the apparent seizure:
Watch video from inside Zuccotti Park as police moved in late last night:
- Show quoted text -
The paper reports from last night's chaos at Zuccotti Park:
At one point, a woman who appeared to be suffering from seizures flopped on the ground in handcuffs as bystanders shouted for the police to remove the cuffs and provide medical attention. For several minutes the woman lay on the ground as onlookers made increasingly agonized demands until an ambulance arrived and the woman was placed inside.
By 12:20 a.m., a line of officers pushed against some of the remaining protesters, forcing them south on Broadway, at times swinging batons and shoving people to the ground.
Kobi Skolnick, 30, said that officers pushed him in several directions and that as he tried to walk away, he was struck from behind in the neck. “One of the police ran and hit me with a baton,” he said.
To read the full story, go here.
|@ Greg_Palast : Our photographer ZD Roberts beaten @OWS Zucotti Park by cops. Thrown to ground, hair grabbd, hit with clubs while yelling, I'M PRESS PRESS!|
|@ macfathom : Doubling east on Barclay, and now the ragged front of the march is at City Hall. #OWS|
|@ LuddoftheFuture : girl in the street having a seizure and the cops have her in handcuffs. can this get any worse (live at http://t.co/4pLyy3gP)|
Activists cry out for paramedics. The woman is limp on the ground. "Come on you violent bastards where's the paramedics?"
|@ jeffrae : March is heading north up broadway #ows #occupywallstreet|
|@ macfathom : Dozens of arrests, many cuffed and sitting on broadway waiting for their ride to jail. #OWS|
|@ RDevro : Police are barricading the park. It's cleared. I witnessed countless violent arrests. No way to estimate numbers.|
Cops pulling apart human chains. There are shouts for mic checks. Now, chants start forming. "The NYPD are sweeping through," says Tim on the live stream.
|@ ANIMALNewYork : NYPD just made an announcement that Brookfield has to "clean the park" and Liberty Plaza is officially "closed."|
|@ OccupyWallStNYC : Bagpipers just started marching into the park bringing the party mood with them, NYPD arrested one of them, and things got real heated. #OWS|
|@ JackieHRye : NYPD just "destroyed" the tent in Zuccotti Park, Occupiers call for its re-building. Marching band also going through the park. #OWS|
|@ RDevro : The tent in the middle of the park continues to fill with people planning to stay the night. Lots of energy here.|
Activists ask for more room as the tent is growing, expanding.
"It looks like a floating tent." -- as Tim on his live stream.
|@ OccupyWallStNYC : .@justawall is leading us in a song! "Hit the road, banks! And don't ya come back no more no more no more no more!" #OWS|
Activists have assembled make-shift, cardboard sleeping areas inside Zuccotti Park. The cardboard is joined by a large green tarp.