If you’re going to be perp-walked by cops away from a political protest for demonstrating, it just looks cooler if you’re cuffed.

Even if you aren’t actually cuffed.

The most charitable interpretation here is that she thought the officer was about to slap the cuffs on at any moment so she assumed the position in anticipation.

The less charitable interpretation is that she’s savvy enough about media to know that most photographs of her with her arms behind her back here, being led away, won’t show that her wrists weren’t actually bound. In other words, this is Ocasio-Cortez pantomiming being treated more harshly by The Man for standing up for her cause than was actually the case.

She holds up a fist in solidarity towards the end of the clip, so she wasn’t pretending too hard.

On the other hand, her hands were once again behind her back as she was led further away from the scene:

I wonder if she asked the cops to tear-gas her for a bit of extra “abortion-rights martyr” cred.

The “tell” that she was keen to be perceived as cuffed is that she could have as easily objected to the officer grabbing her by the arm needlessly to lead her away. It would have been on-brand for AOC to complain that the police were being unduly forceful with her. She was going willingly, wasn’t she? They didn’t have to physically steer her.

Given a choice between that and a fake-cuffed perp walk, though, she chose the one that would work better as a photo. She may be terrible on policy but she understands retail politics.

Besides, she wasn’t the only protester there in invisible cuffs while being led away:

Maybe it’s just cultural instinct? We’ve all watched a million hours of cop shows. We know what it looks like when the police remove someone forcibly from a location. In that situation, the detainee’s arms are usually behind their back. When Five-0 takes hold of you, maybe that’s just where an American’s arms automatically go.

Either way, an embarrassing day for unpopular New York City progressives. I’ll leave you with this.

Update: Like I said, she understands retail politics.

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