It's been almost one week since the Los Angeles Police Department deployed about 1,400 officers to infiltrate and bulldoze the Occupy L.A. encampment outside City Hall.
In that week, as the nearly 300 protesters arrested in the wee hours have trickled out of jail and back to their laptops, we've heard multiple accounts of alleged LAPD brutality during the raid. And, more so, after the raid, once TV cameras had moved on to other morning news.
The latest account, as blogged by semi-celebrity Patrick Meighan, is one of the most disturbing.
We'd previously heard from Tyson Heder, a photographer who was mauled (on video) by riot cops, and Yasha Levine, Soviet “exile” and indie journalist who called the LAPD's behavior worse than anything he's seen abroad.
But Meighan, a comedy writer who has contributed to smash hits like “Family Guy” and “Titus,” is the first arrestee we can really call a public figure — he even has a Wikipedia page. (For better or worse, that star factor might draw more attention to his story than, say, the account recently submitted to LA Weekly by average dude Matt Kresling. Though we highly recommend you check his out, too.)
Meighan's story begins with an explanation for the “30 tons of debris” that city officials were complaining would cost a fortune to clean up, on the groggy morning after. As we suspected, the heap wasn't all garbage and feces, as the naysayers made it out to be.
Instead, it was an LAPD-mashed pile of occupiers' oft-costly belongings — ones they certainly would have rather cleaned up themselves, in pre-mashed condition.
“As we sat there, encircled, a separate team of LAPD officers used knives to slice open every personal tent in the park. They forcibly removed anyone sleeping inside, and then yanked out and destroyed any personal property inside those tents, scattering the contents across the park. They then did the same with the communal property of the Occupy LA movement. For example, I watched as the LAPD destroyed a pop-up canopy tent that, until that moment, had been serving as Occupy LA's First Aid and Wellness tent, in which volunteer health professionals gave free medical care to absolutely anyone who requested it. As it happens, my family had personally contributed that exact canopy tent to Occupy LA, at a cost of several hundred of my family's dollars. As I watched, the LAPD sliced that canopy tent to shreds, broke the telescoping poles into pieces and scattered the detritus across the park. Note that these were the objects described in subsequent mainstream press reports as “30 tons of garbage” that was “abandoned” by Occupy LA: personal property forcibly stolen from us, destroyed in front of our eyes and then left for maintenance workers to dispose of while we were sent to prison.”
Meighan then echoes another common claim in the wake of last Wednesday's raid: that once the police barricade was formed, some protesters who wanted to leave the camp — de-unlawfully assemble, essentially — weren't allowed to do so. Thus wasting more city resources on hauling an unprecedented number of peaceful protesters back to the station, instead of the bare minimum.
“When the LAPD finally began arresting those of us interlocked around the symbolic tent, we were all ordered by the LAPD to unlink from each other (in order to facilitate the arrests). Each seated, nonviolent protester beside me who refused to cooperate by unlinking his arms had the following done to him: an LAPD officer would forcibly extend the protestor's legs, grab his left foot, twist it all the way around and then stomp his boot on the insole, pinning the protestor's left foot to the pavement, twisted backwards. Then the LAPD officer would grab the protestor's right foot and twist it all the way the other direction until the non-violent protestor, in incredible agony, would shriek in pain and unlink from his neighbor.
It was horrible to watch, and apparently designed to terrorize the rest of us. At least I was sufficiently terrorized. I unlinked my arms voluntarily and informed the LAPD officers that I would go peacefully and cooperatively. I stood as instructed, and then I had my arms wrenched behind my back, and an officer hyperextended my wrists into my inner arms. It was super violent, it hurt really really bad, and he was doing it on purpose. When I involuntarily recoiled from the pain, the LAPD officer threw me face-first to the pavement. He had my hands behind my back, so I landed right on my face. The officer dropped with his knee on my back and ground my face into the pavement. It really, really hurt and my face started bleeding and I was very scared. I begged for mercy and I promised that I was honestly not resisting and would not resist.”
And finally, like many other protesters have alleged, Meighan says he suffered nerve damage from extraordinarily tight handcuffs, and wasn't allowed access to bathrooms or other amenities.
“My hands were then zipcuffed very tightly behind my back, where they turned blue. I am now suffering nerve damage in my right thumb and palm.
I was put on a paddywagon with other nonviolent protestors and taken to a parking garage in Parker Center. They forced us to kneel on the hard pavement of that parking garage for seven straight hours with our hands still tightly zipcuffed behind our backs. Some began to pass out. One man rolled to the ground and vomited for a long, long time before falling unconscious. The LAPD officers watched and did nothing.”
The comedy writer then cleverly uses the second half of his post to address his real concern: Why haven't 1-percenters who've committed far worse crimes on humanity been subjected to similar treatment?
And for the record, the LAPD has denied all allegations of violence last Wednesday night — instead focusing on the miraculous “show of restraint” on both sides. At least one high-profile protester begs to differ. You can lock out the media, but you can't stop insiders from storming the Internet.