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Police Violence Mars

Scottsdale May Day March

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Police keep people on the sidewalk after making an arrest Tuesday at Goldwater Boulevard and Fifth Avenue in Scottsdale, Ariz.

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Occupy-Influenced Gathering Descends On Scottsdale’s Downtown, But Despite Vitriolic Rhetoric From Otherwise Peaceful Protesters, Police Resort To Violence

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By John Guzzon
Modern Times Magazine

May 2, 2012 — Nearly 100 supporters of the global Occupy movement’s call to strike, march and rally in celebration of international workers day descended on downtown Scottsdale Tuesday, and Scottsdale police responded by making a token arrest of a man walking on the sidewalk in the middle of the crowd.

Immediately before the man was arrested, Officer Anthony Bellissimo, who appeared to be commanding the bicycle-mounted squad of police who had been trailing the group since they passed through Scottsdale Fashion Square, was heard ordering the group to “get one.”

The order was apparently in response to the group jaywalking at Goldwater Boulevard and Fifth Avenue. In order to “get one,” an officer drove his bike into the crowd in order to trap or run into someone. Then, other officers proceeded to grab and slug the man they were able to trap before putting him under arrest. The man was only identified by marchers as “John,” but one member of the march said he was the, “most peaceful guy out here.”

Police were seen hitting the man several times as he attempted to figure out which of the six officers that swarmed him he should obey. Sgt. Bob Bonnette threatened news photographers and marchers with pepper spray as Bonnette and about five officers attempted to shield those who jumped on “John” before getting him to his feet.

Bellissimo was first heard to order the bicycle squad to “get one” a few minutes earlier as the group jaywalked in an southeasterly direction across Camelback Road near Goldwater Boulevard. None of the marchers were hit by the bicycle officer who drove into the crowd on their first attempt and the marchers split into two groups, with some marchers heading west down the south side of Camelback Road and the others heading east. The combined group met up on Goldwater Boulevard at the Arizona Canal where police arrested “John.”

Police on the scene declined to identify “John” or to say why he was arrested.

Related Story: Activists Build A Park In Tempe

Unlike other Occupy related actions since the group first came together in October 2011, Scottsdale police had kept a low profile earlier in the afternoon. Although police could not be seen as the crowd began to gather, it was obvious they were watching when Sgt. Kirk Hess approached the crowd that had gathered at Marshall Way and Main Street and told them as long as they stayed out of the roadway, protesters would, “most likely not see us (police).”

But after the group marched down Marshall Way and arrived at Scottsdale Fashion Square where they found security guards guarding the locked doors, the bicycle police squad appeared. Protesters then left the mall before jaywalking and finding themselves at odds with police.

Before and after the march, several onlookers gathered to watch the goings-on in the usually quiet traffic circle at Marshall Way and Main Street.

One local gallery owner, who refused to provide his name was not shy about his dislike of the protesters.

“They look like a bunch of losers,” he said. “They don’t look like they worked a day in their lives.”

He did agree with one sign held by a marcher, however.

“But I can agree with the one sign that says, ‘buy American.’”

One female marcher who also declined to be named but who has been active within the Occupy movement since October 2011, said she will never waver in her belief that the current economic system only benefits the elite class and therefore needs to be changed.

“Although I do not expect capitalism to stop tomorrow, although that would be lovely, we have to stand up for what is right,” she said.

Related Story: Activists Build A Park In Tempe

One of the marchers who would only say his name was “Josh,” addressed the crowd before they began the march, however, with language that did not belie the peaceful nature of the march.

“I don’t know if you have seen the news, but shit’s popping off all over,” he said, in reference to the more than 130 events throughout the U.S. involving thousands who joined Occupy May Day events across the country Tuesday. “We are here in downtown Scottsdale right now in the bastion of the rich to tell them that the insurrection is coming.”

There was little evidence of an insurrection, however, as marchers chanted and walked through downtown Scottsdale. There were reports of “silly string” being shot onto statues and some smoke bombs that were quickly dispersed, but nothing that resembled an “insurrection,” which is defined as a “violent uprising.”

John Guzzon is editor of Modern Times Magazine.
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