Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Police attack protesters in San Antonio

The Alamo? Forget about it.

Police in San Antonio shut down the Occupy! protest in HemisFair park on Monday, arresting at least five protesters and hitting a legal observer with a patrol car.

Unlike protesters in other cities, the protesters in San Antonio complied with the demands of the police and the city during the occupation, which began on October 6.

But, citing the default explanation - unsanitary conditions - the police gave protesters 15 minutes notice on Monday before shutting down the camp. Steven Baum, commander of the park police, first said protesters were being evicted because they violated the city's no camping ordinance, but later said the city had to prepare the park for a New Year's Eve celebration.

Baum said the group was asked to relocate so that preparations can be made for "Celebrate San Antonio", the city's annual New Year's Eve bash. 
"We have the fencing coming in today," he said. "We have other operations that are going to come in to build up toward the celebration."

Meanwhile, Carlos Villalobos, a legal observer with the National Lawyer Guild from Houston, was struck by a police car. Officers on the scene refused to call for help, identify the officer driving the car or take a report. Park police chief William McManus denied Mr. Villalobos had been struck and claimed that he had thrown himself in front of the police car.

Mr. Villalobos was transported by friends to a local San Antonio hospital for treatment.

The use heavy-handed police tactics on nonviolent protesters is an abomination. That local governments go along with, and sanction, the use of violence on the part of police is criminal. We may have the First Amendment to protect us, but the price of dissent is certainly not free. Just ask protesters in New York, Oakland, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Houston...

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