The presence of NYPD TARU (Technical Assistance Response Unit) officers at Occupy protests has long been a source of contention among occupiers and legal observers. The precise role and remit of the camera-wielding officers is ill-defined; the end product of their constant filming usually goes unseen by those featured in it.
However, on Sunday a group claiming Anonymous affiliation released 60 hours of TARU footage from the night of the Zuccotti Park eviction on Nov. 15. The footage is considered particularly relevant in fleshing out the NYPD versus Occupy narrative, since both mainstream and citizen journalists and videographers were forcibly kept away from the park as officers dismantled the encampment and rounded up protesters that night.
A release introducing the footage dump notes, “The NYPD denied freedom of the press the night of the Zuccotti raid by kicking out media and keeping them two blocks away … Much of the video being released is edited by the NYPD, and at times edits are quite blatant, probably trying to cover up their brutality.”
The release urges that readers share the TARU footage and take note of any glitches or time stamp changes, which might suggest selective editing. “We ask for an unedited version of the tapes,” it notes.
A YouTube trailer teasing the footage (introduced, of course, by a trademark Anonymous Guy Fawkes masked man) highlights instances of aggressive arrests and police treatment of the encampment structures.
This is not the first instance of TARU footage of Occupy going public. Just last month, Brooklyn’s Spectacle Theatre screened three-plus hours of TARU footage captured before, during and after the arrest of 700-plus people on the Brooklyn Bridge on Oct. 1, 2011. The footage, obtained through legal discovery in a class action suit against the NYPD, then leaked to the guerrilla filmmakers, was playfully advertised to Occupy participants: “Come see you and yours ecstatic, then confused, then in fake handcuffs! Find out the myriad ways it’s possible to misuse video equipment! And witness yourself morph from polite millennial liberal to anarchist, just like that.”
It’s not clear how the Zuccotti eviction footage in the latest leak was obtained. Check out the teaser clip:
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email email@example.com.