By Chase Stevens ’12
All across the nation, people are protesting against corporate greed and the widening wealth gap.
Occupy Wall Street has been gaining in popularity, sparking peaceful protests in many cities, ranging from New York City to Los Angeles.
But brutality has plagued many Occupy demonstrations.
According to a video posted by the online news source The Salon, students protesting at UC Berkeley faced police officers in riot gear.
A video on The Observer shows the New York Police Department using pepper spray on members of the Occupy Wall Street movement. They arrested 80 people during the march.
It seems that violent police response is becoming the norm in these nonviolent protests.
This is absolutely atrocious. What the police are doing is trying to silence the message behind Occupy Wall Street.
Even if you don’t agree with the message, demonstrators should at least be protected by the first amendment rights given by the Bill of Rights.
It is true that there are people breaking the law at these protests, and protesting doesn’t give someone a free pass to break the law.
However, the vast majority of these people are peaceful protestors. Just because there is one bad apple doesn’t justify the response from the police.
The first amendment clearly gives the right to the American people to exercise both freedom of speech and to assemble peacefully.
While these may be minor conflicts with the police, it must be stopped before police brutality escalates.
This also comes across as hypocritical of the U.S. government. America has been supporting revolutions in the Middle East and speaking out against corrupt, violent police.
However, when American citizens finally speak out and protests against corruption in the United States, there is a suspicious lack of support.
While it may be true that Occupy Wall Street is disorganized and lacking focus, any peaceful protest, however organized, has the right to demonstrate their views.
Police brutality is not the appropriate response to a movement that you do not agree with.
If anything, the U.S. government should encourage Occupy Wall Street. America hasn’t seen peaceful protests of this size since the Civil Rights Movement.
If the police brutality continues, the movement may turn violent.