Members of the now-evicted Occupy New Orleans encampment at Duncan Plaza claim they were harassed by two New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) cops in the early morning hours of Tuesday, Dec. 13, just hours before their final eviction from the plaza.
Nadra Enzi, whose written account is supported by several other protesters, claims officers drove up to the park at 5 a.m. flashing their lights, first saying, "Hello comrades," through a bullhorn, then saying protesters had to leave or would be arrested.
The alleged incident happened while protesters were still allowed to stay in the park — under a temporary restraining order permitting them to maintain a round-the-clock encampment — despite a city ordinance establishing the park's closing time as 10:30 p.m.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu's spokesman, Ryan Berni, acknowledges that cops were there but denies charges the officers told protesters to leave or threatened arrest.
Meanwhile, the allegations have drawn the attention of New Orleans Independent Police Monitor (IPM) Susan Hutson. Hutson's office — part of the city's Office of Inspector General — collects data on allegations of police misconduct and seeks to ensure that the NOPD handles such allegations properly.
According to IPM spokeswoman Ursula Price, Hutson plans to speak to Occupy New Orleans members again Tuesday, Dec. 20, during the group's 7 p.m. nightly general assembly, which is still held at Duncan Plaza. Attorney Miles Swanson says he and other Occupy New Orleans legal team members plan to give Hutson affidavits from protesters describing the incident in detail. Swanson also says the group's legal team is considering turning over the affidavits to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Hutson has spoken to Occupy New Orleans members about the matter. She visited Duncan Plaza twice Dec. 13, hours before what little remained of the encampment was cleared by police officers.
"We want to get every single complaint we can from you about what went down," Hutson said. She told Gambit she was at the camp to observe NOPD's treatment of and policies for dealing with nonviolent civil disobedience. — Maldonado