Tear gas, non-lethal bullets, flash-bang grenades and arrests “under the suspicion of unlawful assembly” are now all definite realities in the streets of American cities that have been overtaken by Occupy protesters.
While their demands are ill-defined, the protesters’ fate, it seems, is sealed by the hands of officials in cities like Oakland, Calif., and Atlanta who have instructed police to conduct raids on encampments to quell the dissent.
In Oakland, a pre-dawn raid Tuesday that turned violent effectively eliminated all but a handful of protesters from areas around the city hall. Police fired upon the protesters with non-lethal bullets, and they employed the use of tear gas and flash-bang grenades to disperse protesters. Protesters reportedly attempted to fight back by lobbing glass bottles and stones at police.
Police forces in Atlanta were able to more peaceably remove protesters from Woodruff Park. In both instances, media reports indicate that police arrived in full riot gear. In Oakland there were reports of armored vehicles conducting patrols.
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According to The Associated Press, most of the arrests being made are for disorderly conduct or “suspicion of unlawful assembly,” which has raised ire from some people who do not even agree with the Occupiers’ anger. One man in Atlanta, who did not give his name, arrived at the protest with a rifle in tow. He said that while he was not in agreement with the protesters’ message, he wanted to “protect their right to protest.”