Every week, Truthdig recognizes an individual or group of people who spoke truth to power, blew the whistle or stood up in the face of injustice. You can see past winners here, and make your own nomination for our next awardee here.
On Tuesday night, The Huffington Post hosted a black-tie event that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was expected to attend. Occupy Wall Street protesters caught wind of Cuomo’s expected presence and decided to protest outside the venue in an effort to win an audience with him. Author and feminist Naomi Wolf, one of the guests attending the event and our Truthdigger of the Week, saw the protesters standing on the fringe of the event as she arrived and decided she wanted to help them understand and exercise their rights. She was arrested for her efforts.
In an article she wrote for The Guardian the next day, Wolf gave a detailed account of the events that led to her arrest and explained her motivation for going out of her way to try to help the protesters.
“On our exit, I saw that the protesters had been cordoned off by a now-massive phalanx of NYPD cops and pinned against the far side of the street—far away from the event they sought to address,” Wolf wrote. “I went up and asked [the officers] why. They replied that they had been informed that The Huffington Post event had a permit that forbade [the protesters] to use the sidewalk. I knew from my investigative reporting on NYC permits that this was impossible: A private entity cannot lease the public sidewalks; even film crews must allow pedestrian traffic. I asked the police for clarification—no response.”
Then Wolf, having determined that it was unconstitutional for police to keep protesters so far from the event, led them single-file across the sidewalk in question. She was arrested for “disorderly conduct.”
In nominating Wolf, Truthdig reader John said he respected Wolf for “challenging the unreasonable and unconstitutional demands of the NYPD,” and for “her willingness to be arrested for refusing those demands.”
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On Oct. 15, the day Occupy Wall Street set aside as a day of action for the movement, U.S. Marine Corps. Sgt. Shamar Thomas was caught on video telling off New York police for being overly forceful with peaceful protesters. “This is not a war zone,” he told officers, pointing to service badges on the military fatigues he opted to wear while protesting. “These are unarmed U.S. citizens!” The passion Thomas displayed while confronting police seems to have hit a nerve with a lot of people because the video, after less than a week, has seen almost 2 million views. Truthdig reader Dory explained well the emotion that has seemed to fuel those millions of views: “This remarkable young man protected his fellow citizens against the NYPD and won. God bless him for putting his life on the line for us all, both in Iraq and on the streets of New York. He is my new hero!”
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Watch as Naomi Wolf gets arrested outside The Huffington Post event in the video below:
Watch Sgt. Shamar Thomas challenge the police officers who he says were too aggressive against peaceful protesters in the video below: