NYPD Blues, door-kicking edition
In New York, police got into the game the day Monday, when they staged a little preemptive action, breaking down the door of one activst, as Adrian Chen of the Gawker reports:
A day before Occupy Wall Street hopes to shut down New York and cities across the country in massive May Day protests, the NYPD visited at least three activist homes in New York and interrogated residents about plans for tomorrow’s protest.
Today “there was definitely an upswing in law enforcement activity that seemed to fit the pattern of targeting what police might view as political residences,” said Gideon Oliver, the president of the New York Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, which offers legal to support to Occupy Wall Street. “They were asking what are your May Day plans, do you know who the leaders are—these are classic political surveillance questions.”
Oliver said the National Lawyer’s Guild is aware of at least five instances of NYPD paying activists visits, including one where the FBI was involved in questioning. (He wouldn’t elaborate.)
Actions in Europe
Here’s an early report from Renee Maltezou of Reuters:
Thousands of workers across southern Europe protested against spending cuts in May Day rallies on Tuesday, before weekend elections in Greece and France where voters are expected to punish leaders for austerity.
Unions in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and France are using the traditional marches to express anger over a savings drive across the euro zone, aimed at shoring up public finances but criticized for forcing countries deeper into recession.
Italian demonstrators briefly clashed with police in riot gear in Turin and thousands marched in the central city of Rieti to listen to the leaders of the country’s three main unions denounce Prime Minister Mario Monti’s reforms.
In Madrid, tens of thousands headed in the rain to the main square waving signs opposing government cuts while in Athens around 5,000 workers, pensioners and students marched with banners reading “Revolt now” and “Tax the rich”.
And for a report on protests in the nation hardest hit by the latest round of the economic crisis, a report from Keep Talking Greece:
In an unprecedented low participation of demonstrators the May Day rallies concluded in Athens and some other Greek cities. Estimated 10,000 people, from public and private sector unions and left parties took to the streets of Athens to protest harsh austerity programmes, high unemployment. Just a couple of days before the crucial parliamentary elections on May 6th.
With the common slogan “Nobody alone! Together we can!”, demonstrators chanted “Enough!” and “The measures won’t pass!”
Riot police had taken place to “protect” the Parliament and police had closed the Metro station at Syntagma square out of fear of potential unrests.
The rallies concluded peacefully.
And in Turkey, a whiff of tear gas
From Hürriyet Daily News:
Police sprayed tear gas on a group of demonstrators in Ankara after the group wanted to cross a police barricade today.
Labor Day celebrations are taking place in two separate locations in Ankara, Tandogan and Sihhiye squares, as the governor would not allow for a joint demonstration.
Workers from numerous labor unions gathered at Sihhiye square earlier today. Around 500 more workers arrived with busses later on. Police surrounded and barricaded the newly arriving group, preventing them from joining others.
The group tried to cross the barricade, which prompted the police to use tear gas to subdue the workers. The group retreated behind the barricades and started chanting slogans.
Around 4,000 police officers were deployed in Ankara streets for Labor Day celebrations.
And a report from New York
From Bloomberg’s Henry Goldman and Freeman Klopott :
In New York, dozens of police, some in riot gear, were behind barricades at Bank of America’s Corp.’s 55-story tower as chanting protesters lined a block of 42nd Street. Marches were planned from Union Square to Lower Manhattan, where more police guarded the entrance to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) in the Financial District.
“We’re trying to get the movement going again, and today is a good day to get people aware that we’re still here and we’re not going anywhere,” Paddy Mike, 50, said today in Bryant Park. “You can’t kill an idea.”
New York’s Occupy movement has relied on demonstrations and marches since Nov. 15, when police ousted hundreds of protesters from their headquarters in Zuccotti Park near Wall Street, where they had camped since Sept. 17.
Banks pooled resources and cooperated to gather intelligence after learning of plans to picket 99 institutions and companies, followed by what organizers have described as an 8 p.m. “radical after-party” in a Financial District location.
Seven envelopes containing non-toxic white powder were sent to bank branches in New York City on the eve of the protests, the Associated Press reported, citing police. Bill Dobbs, a spokesman for Occupy Wall Street, said the prank had nothing to do with the demonstrations, according to the AP.
And back in the Bay Area
Finally, two reports from the San Francisco Chronicle, the first on actions that will no doubt be used to discredit the good intentions of the great majority of activists:
A large group of protesters marched from Dolores Park shortly after 9 p.m. Monday night and vandalized parts of the Mission District, including the San Francisco Police Department’s Mission station at 630 Valencia Street.
At least a dozen businesses, including Tartine Bakery at 18th and Guerrero streets and Locanda restaurant on Valencia, had their windows broken out and were splattered with paint and food. Vehicles along Valencia and Guerrero streets had windows broken out – an Aston Martin had its windshield shattered and brown paint covered the hood.
After the attack on Mission station, 15 to 20 officers lined up outside to guard the station. The group moved north on Valencia, with the crowd breaking up at 12th and Folsom streets, police said. One officer said of the vandalism, “It was like the station was under siege.”
Another story in today’s Chronicle, from Demian Bulwa, is also worth noting:
The federal court monitor tracking reforms in the Oakland police force said Monday that the effort had met “outright stagnation,” and raised questions about officers’ use of beanbag shotguns and other weapons during what he called a “military-type” response to Occupy demonstrations.
The court-ordered reforms, many of them focused on how the department polices its own officers, haven’t progressed in six months and have gone backward in the past year, said a report by the monitor, Robert Warshaw.
Warshaw said that although police had performed well at times while dealing with Occupy protesters camped outside City Hall, he was “thoroughly dismayed” by some officers’ actions. Any advances made by the department, Warshaw said, “may have been put in doubt in the face of these events.”