Protestors with the Occupy D.C. movement marched through the nation’s capital on Tuesday night to stand up to aggressive police tactics against others in the Occupy movement across the country. But on the local front, they say they don’t have much to complain about, as far as the cops go.
While other Occupy protestors from New York to Berkeley have been roughed up by police, activists and law enforcement authorities in the District have been getting along pretty well.
“It’s been better than I… I’m not a fan of the police, so I’m almost biting my tongue saying this, but the police have been surprising awesome,” Britney Steer told TPM.
“They have our street blocked off, they escort us on marches, they’ve been… I don’t want to say great, they’ve been good. They’ve been really surprisingly good. No complaints from my end, I don’t speak for the entire occupation, but no complaints from my end,” Steer said.
“Part of it I believe is the D.C. cops have had issues at prior protests that were related to the globalization movement, where they got sued for large settlements because they got a little overzealous, but I think we also have reasonably supportive local politicians,” Coleson Breen of Silver Spring, Md. told TPM. “It’s also good policing. Generally, it’s been overwhelmingly positive in my experience.”
The relationship hasn’t been without its issues. One point of contention: how police handled a hit-and-run incident when protestors blocked streets downtown a few weeks back. D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier and Mayor Vincent Gray also claimed the movement was no longer peaceful.
But overall, as Martin Austermuhle writes for the DCist, the relationship has been pretty good:
The Park Service posted clarified rules governing everything from camping to how and when a generator could be used; D.C. police have consistently stopped traffic to allow marches to happen.
We could chalk it all up to experience, of course. The city’s many police agencies are used to protests. Johnny Barnes, executive director of the ACLU of the National Capital Region, told DCist that Washington is the “birthplace of protest,” and police agencies are simply used to handling crowds with grievances.