Opinion Brief

Who's going too far: Occupy protestors or the police?

After police arrest Occupiers in Denver, Portland, and Austin, some critics say demonstrators had it coming

The Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York City were frozen out by an unseasonably early snowstorm over the weekend, but things heated up at Occupy movements elsewhere in the country. Police arrested dozens of protesters in Portland, Ore., and Austin, Texas, and state troopers tried to arrest 29 people in Nashville, Tenn., before a judge stopped them. In Denver, a standoff turned violent, as police fired pepper spray and rubber bullets at protesters, and other Occupiers knocked a cop off his motorcycle and kicked officers. Following the violence at Occupy Oakland, who's to blame for the escalating tensions between police and Occupiers?

The police are clearly overreacting: "We definitely need to condemn the police brutality" that seems to be spreading from Occupy Oakland to Denver and other cities, says Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite at The Washington Post. The Occupy protests have almost all been scrupulously nonviolent, and any "shouting and pushing and shoving" from protesters "is a response to police interference in their constitutionally guaranteed rights to free speech and peaceful assembly.""Violence and the #occupy movement"

The protesters are the thugs: The police have shown admirable restraint, says Rick Moran at American Thinker. The law-breaking Occupiers are "the ones who attack police, forcing them to retaliate." Are there nonviolent "liberal idealists" in the Occupy crowds? Of course. But they're being "used as beards" by the "professional agitators" who think a "little staged riot" will help their cause. All the viral videos you see purport to show "police brutality." But that's by design. Many protesters want to provoke a police response."Occupy Denver protestors riot; 20 arrested"

It's still possible for both sides to behave responsibly: Not many Occupy protests are like Denver or Oakland, says Sarah Mirk in The Portland Mercury. After this weekend's arrests in Portland, the Occupy protesters and Mayor Sam Adams both seemed pretty "upbeat about how the civil disobedience went down." The late-night "arrests were peaceful and not overly rough," and protesters came away pleased that they had made an important point. Win-win."Occupy Portland upbeat about arrests"

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