When participants in a peaceful, non-violent march which departed from the Freedom Square Occupy Washington DC staging area attempted to enter the National Air and Space Museum, guards and police responded violently, pepper-spraying a journalist and protesters so the doors outside were surrounded by people choking, wheezing, prostrated on the ground, eyes blinded or tearing from direct and indirect exposure to pepper spray. [see correction below]
I had gone ahead of the group of 700-1500 protesters, carrying signs opposing the use of drones to indiscriminately kill. The National Air and Space Museum had been targeted because it is celebrating the use of drones.
After less than a dozen people had entered the foyer of the museum, and just a handful of activists had entered the actual museum, guards rushed to the doors and blocked further entry.
Within seconds, more guards arrived. They started spraying pepper spray at anyone nearby.
photo by Cheryl Biren
It happened so fast it's hard to sort out what exactly happened. But we know that at least one photojournalist, Cheryl Biren, who took the above and following photo, with clearly displayed media /Press ID was sprayed directly.
(Photo by Cheryl Biren, opednews.com)
The first video shows activity first, within the entry foyer, then outside.
video by rob kall, opednews.com
The guards pursued people outside, continuing to pepper-spray people indiscriminately.
Pepper-sprayed protesters (Photo taken by Cheryl Biren AFTER she was pepper-sprayed)
Opednews photojournalist Cheryl Biren, recovering from being sprayed directly. (image screen grab from video by rob Kall opednews.com)
Tighe Barry and a fellow protester managed to unfurl a three story high banner with the message, No Drones End Afghan War, before being taken into custody by guards. He was released relatively quickly. (photo by Bill Perry)
Video taken moments after the above video where Pepper spray was used.
video by rob kall Opednews.com
Following the interaction between the guards and the protesters and media people, a member of the police SWAT team came out, cleared people from the door, announcing that the museum was "shut down."
SWAT team member turning away tourists, saying that the Museum has been shut down. (photo by Cheryl Biren)
Update. MSNBC has used the second of my two videos on their website. They're quoting a guard saying there were 100-200 people. I say there were 700-1500. And they quote a spokesperson reporting that one person was pepper sprayed-- I saw at least ten people suffering the effects of pepper-spray, and the guards did not just spray one aggressive protester. They chased after people and sprayed outside.
And I was inside the entry vestibule when the guards starting shooting pepper spray. There was no-one violent who they shot at [addendum: that I witnessed]. No-one. I did not see all the action inside the museum.
Correction: In the original post, it was written that guards had thrown people to the ground. It was observed that when the guards charged into the vestibule a woman was knocked to the ground though the exact manner in which that occurred is presently unclear.
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