Occupy Tulsa pepper sprayed for failure to keep off the grass

  • Published on November 2nd, 2011

Occupy Tulsa arrests

I guess the Tulsa, Oklahoma police haven’t gotten the memo yet on what is and is not appropriate behavior when confronting un-armed, peaceful protesters.

At 2 am this morning, Tulsa police moved in and informed the 30 Occupy Tulsa demonstrators that they were in violation of curfew (apparently their copy of the first amendment says something about time restrictions on freedom of speech and peaceful assembly).

When a handful of occupiers respectfully declined their request that they vacate the park and camp on the sidewalk, the police moved in.

As you can see in the video posted here, they surrounded the group of protesters who had remained on the lawn, sitting there, not resisting. These were people who were already on the ground.

And proceeded to pepper spray them. Without provocation. No rocks flying through the air, not angry shouts or taunts. They methodically surrounded them, waited a minute, and then hit them in the face with pepper spray.

These people couldn’t even be helped by their friends, since the rest of the occupiers were cut off by another line of police. They convulsed on the ground with tears streaming from their injured eyes, while the police stood by.

This wasn’t even about expelling the occupation. They police had said that the sidewalks were fair game, but that the occupiers had to keep off the grass after curfew.

For failure to keep off the grass, a group of occupiers were pepper-sprayed and arrested.

“Pepper spray is used in cases where there is resistance, on this case it was used only on persons who were actively resisting arrest,” the deputy chief told KTUL Tulsa. I think someone needs to educate this gentleman in the difference between “active” and “passive”.

According to the US Department of Justice, “Policy requires that officers use the least amount of force necessary to accomplish their goals.” So how is this appropriate?

Protester Stephanie Lewis told KRMG Tulsa that police had met with Occupy Tulsa earlier in the day to go over ground rules for how both sides could avoid use of force.

“They pepper sprayed point-blank in people’s faces,” she said. “They said they would not do that if we abided by the rules… [they] came to our meeting and said if you guys sit like this, we will not pepper spray you.”

Website: Occupy Tulsa

If you live in Tulsa: The mayor told the occupation that “they have had no local calls in support of Occupy Tulsa”. His office number is: 918-596-2100.

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About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.
  • Richard Foley

    I currently live in New Mexico and have family in Missouri. I will not stop in Tulsa or spend any of my income supporting a town that chooses to not allow free speech. In light of your sister city, OKC being bombed, allowing public discourse should be allowed, if not encouraged.

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  • Bill

    I guess the protestors haven’t gotten the memo yet on what is and is not appropriate behavior when told by a police officer that they are in violation of the law.

    I support your right to freedom of speech. But you have no right to break the law. Learn to protest within the law.

    • Jeremy Bloom

      Did you read the article? They TALKED to the police, the police said “Follow these guidelines, and you will not be pepper-sprayed”, they DID follow the guidelines, and were pepper-sprayed anyway.
      And do you have no sense of history?
      If protesters had only worked within the law, blacks would still be second-class citizens in this country, women wouldn’t have the right to vote, and YOU would be working a 70 hours week with no minimum wage and no protection from unions.

    • The Orange Shaman

      I fully believe that the Occupy movement as a whole has the wrong ideas about who and what is actually responsible for the state of our nation…but I fully support their right to protest and feel that the TPD is completely in the wrong. Will the officer(s) responsible face any sort of charges for using excessive force? Nope. Will they even get so much as a punishment? Maybe a suspension WITH PAY…but probably not even a slap on the wrist.

      Let’s say hypothetically that the police and protesters didn’t have the guidelines discussion and they really were in violation deserving arrest. Okay…arrest them. If they resist non-violently…the cops can take them to jail non-violently as well.