Obviously I've been pretty critical of aspects of how Slay's administration has engaged with Occupy St. Louis. But one thing that is extremely important and definitely deserves major credit is the fact that they decided not to use an overly-agressive, militarized police group when they decided to arrest protesters. The officers who showed up were not wearing riot gear, and did not have any weapons drawn. And, as such, there weren't really any incidents of confrontation between them and the protesters who were arrested. There is some question about whether the officers used fake name tags (some on took a photo of an officer with a name tag that said "Chupacabra," which doesn't match poilce records), but in general they did not behave aggressively.
Now you might say, "praise them for not being overly aggressive? That's how they're supposed to act!" And that's true, except that what we've seen constantly since 9/11 and the "Battle of Seattle" is police acting waaaay over-the-top in using force to bully non-violent protesters. I was at a protest in New York shortly before the Iraq War started and we were forced into pens and random people doing nothing wrong were tackled by police in riot gear. And at numerous protests since then, I've seen police in full riot gear completely overreacting to the actual circumstances. There's an excellent summary of some of the history over at an article at the Atlantic (though I'm not sure I agree with the premise that Pike is blameless).
Given the coordination among cities on cracking down on the Occupy groups, it seems pretty certain that the City of St. Louis made a conscious choice not to use these overly aggressive tactics. And that's important, and should be acknowledged.
Grand Juries and Police Officers
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