2011-11-20 "You want to get arrested, lady? The retired JUDGE shoved up against a wall and threatened by NYPD at Occupy Wall Street clashes" from "[London] Daily Mail" newspaper
A retired New York Supreme Court judge has claimed she was manhandled by a policeman after watching him beat a woman at the Zuccotti Park raids.
Karen Smith was working as a legal observer when she saw a distressed woman pushed to the ground and beaten by an officer, she said.
When she demanded he stopped, the unidentified cop pushed her against a wall and threatened her with arrest.
Ms Smith had attended the raids on Tuesday to note down the names of people arrested as the Occupy Wall Street camp was cleared.
She was wearing a fluorescent green baseball cap bearing the words 'National Lawyers Guild Legal Observer' to show she was not taking part in the protests.
'As I’m standing there, some African-American woman goes up to a police officer and says: "I need to get in. My daughter’s there. I want to know if she’s OK,"' she told Democracy Now!
'And he said: "Move on, lady." And they kept pushing with their sticks, pushing back.
She was crying and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, he throws her to the ground and starts hitting her in the head.
'I walk over, and I say: "Look, cuff her if she’s done something, but you don’t need to do that."
'And he said: "Lady, do you want to get arrested?" And I said: "Do you see my hat? I’m here as a legal observer."
'He said: "You want to get arrested?" And he pushed me up against the wall.'
Ms Smith, who was also carrying a pad and pen, said the incident happened at around 1.30am on Tuesday at Dey Street and Broadway Street in New York City.
Speaking to Democracy Now, she described the scene as ‘a paramilitary operation if there ever was one’. It was ‘what we call a stealth eviction’, she added.
She described two solid lines of police keeping people from the park.
Ms Smith explained her son had participated in Occupy Wall Street and she had been ‘very concerned’ about his safety.
The only provocation she witnessed was on Dey Street earlier in the evening when protestors shouted 'shame on you' to the police.
Responding to the allegation of police brutality, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, Chuck Wexler, said the actions of one or two officers sullied the reputation of the entire force.
'The police today are far more careful about exercising restraint,' he told Democracy Now. 'But sometimes you have one officer who does something – forgive me – stupid, and it characterises the whole police force.
'Police are using much less force than they were 30 years ago but there are still officers who act inappropriately.'
He added: 'The police are far more careful about not wanting to be drawn into something that really has nothing to do with them, and they are really trying as much as they can to exercise restraint.
'This is a no win situation for the police.'
Police swooped on the Occupy Wall Street camp in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
They cleared tents, tarps and belongings that had been at the park since September 17. Around 200 people were arrested.
Disbelief: Retired judge Karen Smith shows the legal observer hat she was wearing when she allegedly witnessed a cop beating a woman in New York City
Video showing the "Democracy Now!" interview with Karen Smith