With arrests and beatings spread across several blocks in the Marigny, details are still being compiled by witnesses, including several lawyers and other legal workers who were in the crowd, many of whom took pictures and video. At least one young woman was arrested for photographing the scene, and witnesses reported that they saw officers erasing pictures from her camera. Another video, posted on youtube, shows one officer threatening and appearing to strike someone who was filming the scene.
New Orleans Slate, a local blog, posted a detailed and powerful report yesterday. Below are some highlights:
My husband...saw one cop baiting one kid, trying very hard it seemed to get the kid to swing at him, when the kid did nothing, the cop grabbed him and took him anyway then hit him with his baton. He saw cops tazing people left and right, he heard that it had started back at Franklin, but by the time they got to St. Ferdinand it was in full swing. The police were also using mace by this time. One guy, carrying a guitar case turned to the cops as if asking why they were doing this. He was wearing glasses. The cop grabbed him with one hand and maced him right in the face behind his glasses with the other. My husband said he could see it foaming behind his glasses. His friends tried to help him when he went down, trying to rinse his eyes out with water. They all got tazed. Tazers and mace were used liberally. My husband saw clouds of mace and was caught in it. At Press Street a cop told my husband not to turn around, saying, "Anyone who turns around gets arrested. I don't want to see faces, I want to see backs."One of the paraders who was arrested wrote a detailed account that was posted on New Orleans' Indymedia website, a first-hand statement that depicts officers boasting of the beatings they delivered:
...As the cops became more aggressive, the people in the parade began to defend themselves, not by throwing anything but by trying to run, or put their hands over their heads to protect their skulls. This caused the tazing and macing to begin, which of course, threw more fear into the mix which caused stampeding and a lot of people being knocked down...
I'm certainly not going to try to say that no one in the parade might have caused a problem. People join in along the way. There is no set membership with wristbands, there is no parade security. Nevertheless, I've seen this parade many times before and it's pure joy and whimsy. These are delivery people and artists and musicians and young families. (I am hoping that none of the kids I saw in wagons, strollers and on parents' hips were hurt in all this.) NOPD's behavior was absolutely contrary to trying to maintain peace. It appeared that they were spoiling for a fight. It's what I saw. It's all in the attitude.
One arrestee had a broken cheekbone and a large, matted bloody wound on the back of his head from being beaten with a police baton. Later, this injury would require surgical staples. On the wall where we were kneeling, there was a growing bloodstain behind his head where his injury had bled onto the drywall. "He's bleeding," said another of the arrestees. "Officer, that man needs medical attention."The Times Picayune also delivered a solid initial report of the incident, including this closing statement that says a lot about the damage this police behavior does to our city:
"I say you could speak? Shut the fuck up," the officer currently watching us replied. A couple of the arrestees had earlier been demanding lawyers, and he had told them to shut the fuck up too. He was big on that phrase...
An officer walked in cradling his hand and smiling. "You need hospital?" The silence-oriented officer asked him.
"Yeah, I'm going in a minute," said the officer with the wounded hand. "I knocked motherfuckers tonight, tell you what."
Colleen Tucker, of Flagstaff, Ariz., who was in town visiting a friend, said she saw 14 police cars at the Marigny intersection. Tucker said a melee broke out between marchers and officers. Tucker said she spoke to some police who told her vandalism to police cruisers provoked the fighting. "We saw no violence directed at police," she said.
Tucker, a tourist, was leaving for home Monday. "This was my last impression of New Orleans," she said.