More evidence of the militarization of our police.
Posted: 11/17/11 04:51 PM ET
The NYPD are up to something a little more vile and tricky than ordering baton-wielding police goons to charge recklessly up Manhattan streets, beating every man, woman and child in their path. ‘Snatch and Grab’ operations are currently being employed against Occupy Wall Street protesters in Zuccotti Park.
“They keep pushing into the crowd in formations, grabbing people, and then withdrawing,” said Eric, a college student who wished not to share his last name, from Zuccotti Park over the phone. “They’ve done it three more times since you left.”
During the police operations he spoke of, Eric was struck in the groin, pushed to the ground and cracked across the shin with a nightstick. “I had my open hands in the air the whole time,” he said. ” I wasn’t threatening anyone. They just beat everyone unfortunate enough to be around this one guy until they drug him out.”
These operations do not strike me as random. What the police are engaging in looks like a military crowd control tactic called ‘snatch and grab,’ something I practiced in training on various occasions in the military. It consists of a dual process of intelligence gathering and target extraction. Leaders or agitators within the crowd are identified, after which a line of soldiers, usually in a diamond wedge, push into the crowd so that one or two soldiers in the rear can grab the identified agitators and remove them, thus ripening a crowd for dispersal. Often times, cameras are used to identify potential targets.
As a veteran of street demonstrations in New York, I’m no stranger to police surveillance at protests. However, this morning was the first time I felt these cameras were part of a real-time tactical strategy.