Slutwalk NYC is this Saturday. After recent incidents between the NYPD and Occupy Wall Street, we have to wonder if cops will be harder on protests.
New York City’s branch of Slutwalk, the viral protest that sprang up in April when a Toronto policeman said women should avoid dressing like “sluts” to prevent rape, will happen on October 1. After the pepper-spraying incident that happened during the Occupy Wall Street protest last weekend, one has to wonder if there will be an added air of hostility between walkers and the NYPD.
According to posts on the official Slutwalk NYC website, the march has all the necessary permits in order, as well as “a team of marshals that will be acting as a buffer between you and the police.” They’re obviously making every effort to keep their participants safe, and having permits could be an important difference from Occupy Wall Street — the march last weekend that resulted in cops spraying peaceful protesters did not have them — there could still be heightened personal feelings and tensions.
I have participated in or observed several protests while living in New York, and at least one was grassroots and organized without a permit. Even that was largely left alone by cops — at most they were mildly annoyed, but there was no overt hostility.
This begs the question of whether their open aggression against Occupy Wall Street is specific to that protest’s message — or at least how the NYPD perceives it — or if it could lead to issues with future rallies.
The videos of Anthony Bologna pepper-spraying women corralled during the OWS march has gone viral, feeding the public’s perception of police — and not for the better. The NYPD isn’t stupid, and cops know they have a PR problem now. But it could go a couple of ways. The police could be more lenient in an effort to restore their public image, or they could be even more frustrated with demonstrations in general and take it out on future protests.
This is definitely not meant to deter people from participating in Slutwalk — in fact, it’s all the more reason to go. First, it’s a really important message about bodily autonomy and rape culture. But also if brutality prevents people from exercising their right to protest, that means we’re truly in a police state. The best way to stop that from happening is to keep exercising your right to peacefully demonstrate.
Slutwalk NYC starts at noon in Union Square on Saturday, October 1. After the march, there will be a rally at 2 pm.