Behind The Stiches: The Face Of Chicago Police Violence At NATO Protests (Richard Harding Wood, 21, of Malden, MA)

Owly Images

Richard Harding Wood was riled up before Occupy. Along with other friends from Malden, the then-20-year-old started coming into Boston on weekends early last year wielding placards to protest the Federal Reserve Bank. So when Occupy Boston settled across Atlantic Ave from the Fed in late-September, it was a no-brainer for Wood to get involved.

In December, Wood and his girlfriend, Everett native Brittany Cook, traveled to Washington, DC, where they were arrested and charged with parading on Supreme Court Grounds. They'd been demonstrating against that body's Citizens United decision, and its poisoning the American political process with toxic corporate influence.

The arrests in DC hardly deterred Wood and Cook, and when they heard that the National Nurses United union was sponsoring NATO-bound buses, they enthusiastically signed up. Even when their ride broke down a half-hour out of Boston, they stayed among a group that boarded a last-minute Greyhound, and arrived in Chicago at 3pm on Friday.

After an exciting but relatively tame Friday and Saturday, Wood and Cook woke early for the major Veterans for Peace march planned for Sunday. They skipped breakfast, instead pounding a few bottles of water before leaving their crash spot – a small church space they'd rented with a dozen other Occupiers who were left back in Mass – and hitting the red line to arrive in Grant Park at 10:30am.

Wood and Cook marched close to the front, the former with his Guy Fawkes mask pulled over his face. He says that the Anonymous disguise was getting him severely dirty looks from cops, though, so he removed it at the end of the march and stowed it in his backpack. With his face exposed, Wood then moved to the front of the barricades where police and protesters were shoving one another.

Wood says that he remembers pulling at least two young women out of the scrum before winding up about three bodies behind the escalating conflict. Even back there he wasn't safe though; within seconds – at around 5:15pm – a close-by cop indiscriminately swung his baton into the crowd, cracking Wood directly above the left side of his temple. Bloody and shaken, he says everything went blurry.

Owly Images

Now it was Wood who was being pulled out of the crowd. Cook grabbed a medic who they'd stayed with in DC months earlier, and, once Wood was steady on his feet, they walked to a bus stop away from the action. After about 10 minutes, they were scooped up by a street medic transport vehicle, and brought to a makeshift wellness center in a church for standard care and a therapeutic massage.

From there Wood was eventually brought to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where, along with a number of other Occupiers who were beaten badly, he was given prompt treatment and subsequently released. He has 10 stitches in his head, and a genuine concern for those who were brutalized even harder. Asked whether he plans to attend the next major action wherever it may be, he answers in the affirmative.

| More

 Friends' Activity   Popular 
All Blogs
Follow the Phoenix
  • newsletter
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • youtube
  • rss
Latest Comments
Search Blogs
Phlog Archives