Sunday, September 25, 2011

Violence at Wall Street Demonstrations

Here is the title from an ABC News report: "‘Occupy Wall Street’ Protests Turn Violent; Video Shows Police Macing Women".

The obvious conclusion is that demonstratorss went berserk and the police had to resort to violence to contain the violence. Well... look for yourself:

These women are peacefully demonstrating, the police surround them with orange netting, then mace them. The only "violence" is the police.

ABC News has a title that misleads, then it starts its story with:
Video posted by the group Occupy Wall St from the eighth day of protests against corporations show police using Tasers and mace to control the crowd, which the group says has only made it more committed to keep up the demonstrations in lower Manhattan for the long haul.

A New York Police Department spokeswoman today confirmed the group’s claim that approximately 80 people were arrested Saturday, mainly for disorderly conduct and obstructing vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
The reader is left convinced the demonstrators "had it coming" because they were disorderly and confronting the police.

But if you watch the videos and read a little further into the article you find:
Among the video clips on the Occupy Wall Street website is one that shows a police officer macing a group of young women penned in by orange netting.
That is the full explanation for why the women were netted and maced. No violence. Nothing other than police arbitrarily imprisoning and then brutalizing them. But this is reported as "police restoring order". What?

ABC News goes on:
Another video has circulated of a police officer throwing a protester to the ground, though it is not clear why. The video shows the man standing in what seems to be a non-threatening manner before the incident.
Again, ABC News is presenting this as the police "restoring order" even as its very words show that the reporter sees no disorderly conduct other than police brutality. But ABC News maintains its sales job trying to present this as the poor overwhelmed police doing their best to deal with crazy mob violence.

You have to admire ABC News to sticking to its viewpoint even as it reports the opposite:
The website reported at least one protestor was arrested for taking photographs. An NYPD spokesman told ABC News Saturday that police were not targeting those with cameras.

Why are people demonstrating? It is for Occupy Wall Street

Meanwhile, in his Beat the Press blog, Dean Baker chastises the NY Times for its reporting about this event. The newspaper is cherry-picking what it reports to make the protests look ludicrous:
The NYT used its news section to mock critics of Wall Street. It presented the comments of some of the people protesting Wall Street. While the people quoted in this article do appear to be confused about the role of the financial industry in the economy, the paper would have no difficulty finding articulate critics of the financial industry.

For example, it could present the views of Nobel prize winning economist Joe Stiglitz. Or, it could present the views of Nobel prize winning economist, and NYT columnist, Paul Krugman. Or could interview Simon Johnson, a former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund.

It is not clear what news the NYT conveyed to its readers by by presenting the views of people who do not appear to be knowledgeable about the economy. This would be comparable to presenting the opinions of some of the more extreme people at a Tea Party rally as representative of the business community's arguments for lower taxes. This has not been done in the NYT or elsewhere.

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