The 'Times' Thinks It Might Have (Maybe) Witnessed Police Brutality (Secondhand)

The New York Times thinks it maybe saw something… so it’s saying something. In a Sunday afternoon post titled “Video Appears to Show Wall Street Protesters Being Pepper-Sprayed,” the paper’s City Room blog embedded a video—originally posted by YouTube user USLAWdotcom—and offered a delicate take on the proceedings.

In slow motion, and with annotation explaining what is happening, the video seems to show a high-ranking member of the New York Police Department spraying a substance—the video says it is Mace or pepper spray—toward several women who were standing behind a wall of orange netting. After the spraying, one woman can be seen dropping to the ground, screaming in apparent pain.

Sure, it could be Mace or pepper spray—but maybe it was Axe or Binaca. (Some street protesters are known to have, how to put this, hygiene issues?) The pain, at least, was “apparent.”

The Occupy Wall Street website had a somewhat less reserved interpretation of the spraying incident, presenting its embed with the caption “This is a white-collar police officer macing penned-in young women,” followed by a still photo of “a white-collar police officer reaching over a barricade and ripping a young woman’s hair out” (but maybe he was just giving her a scalp massage?), as well as “a video from September 20th of two white-collar police officers throwing a protester face first towards the ground” (but maybe they were just playfully wrestling?) and other highlights.

This account, from September 19th, at least is written by someone capable of describing what he sees.



Simon Dumenco is a media columnist for Advertising Age.