The massive Occupy Times Square rally on Saturday resulted in 74 arrests, and new video has surfaced showing police clashing with protestors who almost knocked a patrol horse to the ground.
While descriptions of the video and blogs all over the web are lighting up with “police brutality,” it is worth taking a closer look at the video to determine what really happened. [Author's note: I was present covering the protests, but did not witness the police scuffle below.]
The NYPD had penned the protestors in the plaza areas of times square, and used metal barriers to keep people on the sidewalks so traffic could pass through cross streets.
The “police brutality” video incident began when protestors shoved one of the large metal barricades into the faces of several officers, pictured below:
A tug-of-war with the barricade ensued, and protestors refused to heed continuous police commands to step back. A dangerous situation became worse when the NYPD tried to apprehend one protestor, and police exchanged blows with the crowd.
The crowd surged around the officers and continued to push metal barricades at them. In the video it appeared that a number of protestors threw punches and assaulted officers.
Police recognized that it was a highly volatile situation, and a few white-shirted supervisors came over and tried to calm the situation down. NYPD officers stepped back from the crowd to regroup.
At that point, an NYPD mounted unit moved closer to the protestors to keep them back. The officers on horseback had several advantages: better line-of-sight, an imposing presence, and improved leverage to use non-lethal force when appropriate (batons).
The mounted unit tried to keep the crowd back, and then in a shocking moment, one mounted officer and his horse were nearly knocked to the ground. The nearly catastrophic fall (which could have caused severe injury to both officer and horse) appeared just off screen, but it looked like a metal barricade was probably pushed into the side of the animal.
The horse regained its footing, and the officers were able to calm the area. It was not clear from the video how many protestors were arrested as a result of this incident.
The video then cut out and switched to a protestor screaming to the crowd: “Who are you protecting?”
You can watch the full YouTube video of protestors and police going at it in the Occupation of Times Square below: