by Max Brantley
UPDATED FROM EARLIER:
The Renaud brothers, Little Rock native documentary filmmakers, were in the thick of things during the mass Occupy Wall Street protests that jammed some streets in New York yesterday.
One of the Renauds' camera was a casualty of police during the march. Their Twitter feed tipped followers originally:
#OWS wall street occupation police very aggressive many arrests we were thrown to the ground in obvious attempt to break our camera.
NYPD strategy at #OWS random. For same behavior some protestors they politely ask to move, others they slam to ground, others they arrest
Later, I heard back from Brent Renaud. He said:
Hi Max, yes I got smashed pretty good by the police yesterday morning at Wall Street Entrance. Im still trying to track down the footage that another cameraman shot of the event.
I asked for more information and he supplied photos and the following note. He said they're working on a documentary that will air Dec. 14 on Current TV. He has more interesting things to say — good and bad — about NYPD behavior:
We are just had a meeting at Current TV, the new home of Olbermann, and we will be compiling all of our footage over the last two months at OWS and OWS Memphis into a documentary to air on December 14.
It has been very interesting observing the behavior of the NYPD over the last two months covering this story. I would say 75 percent of the cops have acted professionally, and we have gained a tremendous amount of respect for them as they have often endured verbal assaults from protestors and yet have remained calm, steadfast, and under control.
The other 25 percent or so, a minority to be sure, but still in our minds a shockingly high number of officers, have made a sport of antagonizing the protestors in an almost sadistic fashion. These officers laugh in the protestors faces, they call them names, and belittle and provoke them. When an opportunity presents itself, time and time again we have observed these officers seek out somebody to hit. It's amazing to watch two cops side by side deal with the same situation so differently. One cop will ask a young female student to "Please move along", the next cop will rush in to mace her.
The truth is that the OWS protests are largely peaceful and in fact many have criticized them for being too safe and non-confrontational, and most of the cops realize there is very little danger in these crowds. Far too many cops in the NYPD are just looking for a fight, as if it's personal. Journalists, and others with cameras have definitely been targeted by the authorities. Our camera was damaged when a cop threw me to the ground while we were filming riot police clubbing protestors who were occupying a sidewalk near Wall Street. With the ubiquity of camera phones, and digital video cameras almost all of the incidents have been captured on video in one form or the other.
Inevitably there will be many lawsuits coming out of this and plenty of video evidence to support them, and it will be a great service to the majority good cops in the NYPD who do their job with the professionalism and dignity, if those who have acted so disgracefully are ultimately punished.