TCRP Director Jim Harrington today criticized APD’s pre-dawn arrest of Occupy Austin protestors as an over-reaction and an effort to undermine the Occupy movement:
“Police Chief Art Acevedo’s decision to have some 38 Occupy Austin protestors arrested was unnecessary and unfortunate. I had received reports all evening about the confrontational nature of the police at city hall.
“If the police couldn’t handle the situation, then it would have been appropriate to bring in a mediator. It’s an absurd waste of tax money to spent police time and energy to break up a pure First Amendment demonstration. It was a strange allocation of police resources on a night when Acevedo himself had said earlier was problematic because of the high potential for DWI drivers.
“I’m also of the opinion that APD’s actions are reflective of a nationwide police effort to crack down on the Occupy movement. In fact, I understand Acevedo was at an International Association of Chiefs of Police meeting, talking about how he’s creating a model for how to handle protests nationwide – essentially run off the protestors without using batons or pepper spray, but using psychological pressure and ambiguous interpretations of the law.
“Despite what Acevedo says, APD has nothing to be proud of for the early morning arrests. In fact, they’re shameful in a city that prides itself on diversity and free speech.”