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Tensions: Police beating of ‘Occupy Wall Street’ demonstrators caught on video

As New York City’s “Occupy Wall Street” protests grow in size and attract increasing media attention, distressing — and sometimes embarrassing — interactions between protesters and police are showing up on video-sharing websites.

The New York Observer reports that on Wednesday evening a senior police officer, wearing a white uniform shirt that indicates a rank of lieutenant or above, was caught on film beating protesters with his billy club. The video was quickly uploaded to YouTube after the incident.

On Saturday, the movement gained significant coverage in the national press after the mass arrest of 700 protesters during a march over the Brooklyn Bridge. Police did not  physically prevent protesters from blocking traffic lanes; many claimed that they were lured onto the bridge by police only to be surrounded, handcuffed and taken to local jails.

That mass arrest came after a tense week between police and protesters, capped off by a videotaped Sept. 24 incident where NYPD Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna pepper-sprayed a group of young women who did not appear to be breaking any law. Eighty protesters were arrested that day.

That video become a viral sensation, and attracted news coverage nationwide. Throngs of demonstrators estimated at more than 1,000 protested what they called police brutality on Sept. 30 outside the NYPD headquarters. No arrests were reported at that event.

“Occupy Wall Street” protesters have been arrested for any number of reasons. According to a Sept. 20 Wall Street Journal report, five arrests were made in the protests’ early days for violation of an archaic New York law that forbids the public concealment of a person’s face. At least one activist was arrested for using chalk to write on sidewalks.

Protests emulating the New York demonstrations have sprung up in cities across the country. Thursday will be the first official day of “Occupy D.C.” protests in the nation’s capital.

National political figures have been mixed in their reactions to the slowly coalescing protest movement. Most Republican politicians have objected to the protests’ “class warfare” overtones. Members of the 83-representative Congressional Progressive Caucus have praised the demonstrations.

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