September 17, 2012

Cops at Occupy Wall Street Anniversary

Early this morning I went to observe the one-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. In the past I’ve photographed all kinds of protests and protesters, but this time I concentrated on the NYPD. For those who don’t know, they are the largest municipal police force in the United States. They are so big they have their own culture and their own cliques. Today they were were arresting people, guarding the Wall Street area, and directing traffic. I am not a fan, but no matter how one might feel about them, they undeniably have one of the toughest jobs in the country. On one hand they are expected to be nice and courteous, yet on the other they are supposed to be superheroes who can stop terrorist attacks before they happen. It’s really an impossible job. Unfortunately the Stop and Frisk policy has drained any sympathy for their existential situation. Stop and Frisk has made them a scourge in minority communities, sending countless young men of color to jail for trumped up charges. Police reportedly perform over 1,000 frisks a day, seven days a week. The NYPD also has to share its turf with National Guardsmen, the army, the FBI, and a host of other organizations, which I am sure makes their jobs a living hell. Yet for all the drama going on amongst their ranks, they still have to do inane things like guard an enormous bronze bull with fifty officers.

Comments (3)

  • Yes they do look rather unimpressed by everything, as if they they’ve seen it all and just don’t care any more. But then, do we really want 36, 000 really emotional cops out on the street?

  • martha rosler says:

    Great pix of bored/aggro cops in a joyous day for the rest of us

  • jeremy ayers says:

    Great shots Chris. Though police are of course often in ows shots I’ve not seen any other photographer feature them like this. Again, you’re thinking outside the box, seeing the nypd caught up in, as you rightly put it, an existential situation. I’m certain some of them really feel that. Your photos capture it. My experience with the police today was unusual. I was hanging with Astra, Eli, Rebecca, Laura, Davey and others who had come up with the idea of creating these faux concrete barrier blocks. You probably saw them, they looked just like the real ones that had been deployed by the police around Zucotti recently, except they were made of styrofoam and had “OWS” and “PROTECTING THE PEOPLE FROM THE POWERFUL” stenciled on them in big, block letters. Anyway, they prompted rather positive reactions from various policemen. Some just smiled at them but others actually offered favorable remarks.
    That fleeting meeting we had on the street today felt like part and parcel of the whole exciting day. None the less, hope to see you again while I’m here these months, best ever, j

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