The defining moment has come for America on how much of internal dissent it tolerates from its citizens even as the country spends millions of dollars to encourage civil disobedience, a necessary component for the spreading of its
freedom ideals of representative democracy all over the world.
In Seattle, Washington, an 84-year old woman, Dorli Rainey, said she was pepper-sprayed by the police.
Also in New York, the Occupy Wall Street protesters have their tents dismantled and issued order to vacate the venue of their demonstrations. They complain that their makeshift library was smashed, books destroyed and computers forcefully seized.
Now, American demonstrators said they would occupy bridges in more than twelve cities today, a creative response to the shutdown of the protests that started online and spread across the country and the world.
The survival of the protest in the US has implications for the success of similar efforts, like the Occupy Nigeria Movement, which has already attracted two thousand members on Facebook.
The leader of Occupy Nigeria Movement, Mr. Ralph Odua, told sharpedgenews.com that powers-that-be in Nigeria will soon hear from angry and disillusioned Nigerians, but how American authorities handle citizens who are protesting will determine if the kind of response that would come from Nigeria’s erratic leaders and security outfits. The group says it is trying every possible strategy that would prevent a bloody encounter with the police.
A Tuesday night photo of the American octogenarian, Dorli Rainey, with the chemical irritant and liquid used to treat the pepper-spray on her face dripping from her chin went viral soon reports of her being sprayed surfaced, becoming one of the most striking images from the protests that have taken place in cities across the globe.
“It’s a gruesome picture, I’m really not that bad looking,” Rainey said in an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press.
The photograph shows Rainey, wearing a scarf and jacket, being helped by two people. One man is cradling her head in his arms as they walk away from the area.
Rainey said she was on a downtown bus when she heard helicopters and thought, “Oh boy, I’d better go show solidarity with New York.” Occupy Seattle protesters had gathered Tuesday evening following police actions in New York City that cleared a Manhattan park of people there.
The Seattle activists were blocking downtown streets. Rainey said police told the group they had to move.
“They picked up their bicycles and started shoving them at us and confining us in a very small place and they started to pepper spray,” she said.
Seattle police on Wednesday referred reporters to a statement they released late Tuesday. Officers gave multiple verbal warnings and only used pepper spray against people who were “refusing a lawful order to disperse or engaging in assaultive behavior toward officers.”
Six people were arrested. Rainey said she was not among them.
In a statement Wednesday afternoon Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said police were reviewing the incident and that procedural changes would be made.
“To those engaged in peaceful protest, I am sorry that you were pepper sprayed. I spoke to Dorli Rainey (who I know personally) to ask how she was doing,” McGinn said. “I also called in Seattle Police Chief John Diaz and the command staff to review the actions of last night. They agreed that this was not their preferred outcome.”
Rainey is a former school teacher who is well known in local political circles. A self-described “old lady in combat boots,” she briefly entered the 2009 Seattle mayoral race. She quit that contest, saying she was too old.
She said Wednesday she’ll still be taking part in the local Occupy Seattle movement.
“I’m pretty tough, I guess.”