RIVERSIDE (CA) - Sunday, November 6, 2011 - Approximately 25 police in riot gear raided the peaceful encampment of Occupy Riverside yesterday afternoon. They dismantled and confiscated tents to the jeers of the demonstrators.
The booth set up for the People's Kitchen and the media table were consolidated in the center of the plaza, and, in attempt to defend these stations and personal belongings, occupiers linked arms and formed a human chain around them. Police chose a point of the circle where several young women were linked together, apparently having identified it as the "weak link" of the chain.
There they began to pull the chain apart. Many people were slammed to the ground, had their faced smashed into the concrete, and had the knees of officers applied to their necks and heads. One woman, the primary volunteer behind the people's kitchen, was brutalized particularly aggressively. Her arm was severely twisted, leading many witnesses to think that her shoulder had been dislocated. (We later discovered that the injury was not that severe.) Another young woman who is currently battling cancer received a nightstick to the eye and blows to the kidneys. She subsequently reported blood in her urine stream. The other main volunteer behind the People's Kitchen, a grandmother 55 years of age, reported being "manhandled."
In total, 11 comrades were arrested. Nine were charged with PC 148, "resisting or delaying a public officer." Two were charged with assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly throwing a can at officers. Most people at the encampment did not witness anything thrown or any acts of violence on the part of occupiers. There were one or two, however, who claimed that one of the young homeless women who had recently joined the encampment did throw something, but well after the police violence began. (In reports in the corporate media, police claim that their use of excessive force was provoked by the thrown can.)
Arrestees were taken to the police station and subsequently transferred to the Robert Presley Detention Center a few blocks from the occupation. Impromptu rallies were held to denounce the brutality, the confiscation of the tents, and to demand the release of our comrades. At about midnight, the first of our compañeras was released. Slowly, throughout the night, the remaining arrestees were released one-by-one.
Shortly after the police left the camp in ruins, occupiers returned and rebuilt, determined not to allow themselves to be intimidated. A meeting, scheduled earlier in the week with police Chief Sergio Díaz for tonight (Monday night) is now up in the air as protesters are set to reevaluate that decision at tonight's 7:00 pm general assembly. As one participant remarked last night, "We are well beyond the point of dialogue at this point. In raiding us before our scheduled meeting to discuss our mutual concerns, the police have again demonstrated that they have been negotiating in bad faith." A well-known Riverside political insider made another point clear: "The way politics work in this city, the police would not have done this without the approval--without orders from--the mayor."
Occupiers are currently discussing the possibilities of holding a press conference to correct the record and make demands concerning the incident and of holding a march to denounce the violent repression, and once consensus is reached on these proposals, calls will be put out for all Inland residents, all occupiers, and all people of conscience to join us.
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