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Story Of An Arrest | Occupied Stories

Tag Archive | "story of an arrest"

NYC Casseroles March: Multiple POV’s from the Chaotic Start


Editor’s Note: This story is a collection of short first-person accounts from the same five minute time span at the chaotic start of last night’s Casserole march from Washington Square Park in NYC. We believe that the truth behind any story is shared by the many who lived it. If you were there, send us a short account (200-300 words) from your point of view.                                                         —-

Joe Sutton – This march was my friend Audrey’s first action, and as we began the march I warned her that it’s very easy to get separated—so I wasn’t surprised that I’d lost sight of my affinity group pretty much at the moment we left the park and moved east on Washington Square South, though I tried to stay by Audrey’s side as a first-timer.

Like last week, we’d taken the street immediately after leaving the park, but as the front of the march turned south on Sullivan there was a lot of commotion ahead of me. I couldn’t see from my vantage point what was going on, but it was simple to guess: police rushed in to push protesters to the sidewalk, arresting anyone in the street. There would be no repeating last week’s free exploration tonight. I rushed ahead to the corner of Washington Sq. S and Sullivan, where I saw my friend Danny. He told me our friend Nicole got arrested. Was John (her boyfriend) with her? Was he arrested as well? “I don’t know,” Danny told me. For a moment I saw Nicole, hands behind her back, pulled away by an officer; I saw other familiar faces from the solidarity marches in conversation and shouting matches with the police.

The march began to move on, and I turned around and noticed Audrey was no longer with me. I knew she couldn’t have been arrested, as she’d been on the sidewalk by me during all the confusion. But since I was the only person she really knew on the march, I worried where she might be now in all the chaos. I tried to call her, but no answer—and I saw that my phone would soon die. I also noticed a missed call from John, and sent him a text asking if he was okay. Danny had disappeared, and I was now meandering alone at the back of the march unsure of where my friends had gone.

 

John – We stepped out of the park and immediately took the street. Police on foot and scooters, who had mobilized across the park, raced toward the front of the march and we turned left onto Sullivan Street to try and avoid them.  From the east we poured onto Sullivan and from the west police ran in; there was a surreal moment when we all mixed together, racing south on the asphalt. I was near the front and heard a police officer next to me yell “Start grabbing people!” At the same moment he grabbed my shoulder and jerked me back toward him. I lunged toward some protesters on the sidewalk and they reached out, grabbed me and pulled me away from the officer’s grip. I ran through the few protesters and police ahead of me and turned the next corner. Fearing the officer who grabbed me may try again, I took off my sweatshirt and stuffed it into my backpack—the hood had partially ripped off in the struggle.

I doubled back to check on my friends, and saw my girlfriend Nicole handcuffed and surrounded by police. The march was already starting to move on but the scene was still hectic. I crossed the street and got right next to Nicole. Her arresting officer was very sympathetic and pulled her aside to let me take her bag and talk. She even allowed us a kiss and for a brief moment considered just letting Nicole go before a higher ranking officer yelled “Get her in the van!”

“I’m sorry I have to do this, I wish I didn’t” the officer said with genuine concern as she took Nicole away.

You can see the police and protesters seemingly marching together at the start of this video. For an angle from across the street with great footage of the arrests see the bottom of this post.

Nicole Rose – Pan held high, spoon in hand, we marched south to evade the wall of blue under Washington Square Arch. The mood was jubilant, skies had cleared and the clanging of pots and pans was so powerful it became difficult to decipher the chant that had begun. Still high off the fumes of last week’s NYC Casseroles Night we were ready to take our message to the city once more. By the time I was able to understand and join in the chanting (1..2..3..4 STUDENT DEBT IS CLASS WAR) I was being slammed against a car. Frantically, I tried to turn around to see what was happening, figure out why I was being arrested. I was greeted with the response of “we’ll get to that later” and cold, tight metal cuffs.

Blinded by flashbulbs, I scanned the crowd for my boyfriend. We were pretty close to each other when we left the park and I was worried he had been grabbed too. Thankfully, after being thrown against a few more cars and finally onto my knees, I saw him, free. I breathed a sigh of relief. After unloading my belongings and some phone numbers on him, we kissed as I made my way to the paddy wagon and my comrades. I was honored to be standing next to them.

 

Adam H. Becker – How wonderful after the rain with blue sky coming in from the west to start marching for our righteous cause. We passed the fountain and my girlfriend and I decided to walk up to the front. On the south side of the park we started west with the happy din of pots and pans and enthusiasm. Just as we turned down Sullivan Street, empty of any traffic, the police came up on foot and scooters. Most people were not around the corner yet and not many of us were on the street. I did my usual thing of ignoring the police behind me on their scooters. No police said anything to me. There was shouting. I turned around and I saw a guy, whom I have seen at other events, face down on the ground with police on top of him. I stood and watched while hitting my small frying pan with a wooden spoon. Everyone was yelling but I was just watching hitting the spoon so hard that it broke, the head flying off awkwardly onto the lap of the cop on the scooter next to me. Next thing I know someone grabbed me and said I was under arrest. I asked why and told him that no one had asked me to move. The younger cops did not even know the names of the streets or where they were (whereas I have lived in this neighborhood for many years). The angry white cops in white shirts were yelling at the young recruits, mostly of color, about how to do this and that. I told the police that I was in a lot of pain from the restraints they put on me and that they were being cruel. My left hand is still numb as I type this.

 

Julia Reinhart – I’ve attended many Occupy Wall Street marches and actions since last September, mostly working as a photographer, some very large, others on the smaller sides. This week’s casserole march however included a record in how quickly NYPD stepped in to crack down on marchers. We had just left Washington Square Park and entered into Thompson Street when a group of marchers took the street. I was still on the sidewalk when next to me a white shirt cop with a bull horn started shouting at protesters to get off the street. From that moment on it usually takes a few minutes for things to get heated, but other white shirts started grabbing marchers pretty much immediately. It seemed to me that the cops knew who they were after, as I saw them grab some but not others initially. Three arrests happened literally right next to me. Usually I have to muscle my way into a throng of people to get a good arrest shot. Now they were right there. And we hadn’t even marched further than 200 feet from the park … Editor’s note: All photos in this story by Julia Reinhart

Video by WeAreChange.org

Editor’s Note: This story is part of our ongoing first-person coverage of protests in Quebec against student debt, tuition hikes and Law 78, as well as actions elseware in solidarity to those causes.

This post is also one of many recounting events on June 6th, in which cities all over the world marched in solidarity with protests in Quebec. You may read about an arrestee’s account of the march here, and a longer account on the progression of the march hereA story recounting jail support in Chicago may be found here.

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A Personal Account of the Eviction of Occupy the Midwest


This story was originally published at Anti-State STL

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“Hey, would you help me unfurl this banner?”

So I found myself holding a corner of a massive banner, the size of a billboard that read “Police State.” The moment that my friend asked me this question I knew that the attempt to hold the park had failed. What occurred thirty minutes prior – a group of 100 or so people successfully shouting back the police – would not occur again. Pigs amassed in force. Suddenly, the agreement the group had made before the 10pm curfew that no one would talk to the police was forgotten, and politicians from both sides of the situation began to negotiate… well, it was more of the same “Occupy Movement” attempt to convince a city official that we had a right to set up a camp. The ridiculous 1st amendment argument that some people think is a ticket to freedom… because freedom is apparently synonymous with “rights.”

As I stood there, confused about all the conversations I see occurring at the bottom of the hill, pissed off that people are talking with the cops and the mayor’s aid, the police began to multiply. The first group of pigs stood there, rubbing their batons, obviously fantasizing about avenging their earlier show of weakness. As their numbers continued to swell, it became clear that to prevent ourselves from being arrested in the context of civil disobedience, and to end this night with some measure of power, we had to move. With spontaneity, a march was called, this billboard banner leading the way. As we began to walk south, blocking both lanes of traffic due to the size of the sign, the cops stopped their conversations and conceivably received some kind of vague order. They were pissed. They were disorganized.

I found myself on the west side of the street, closest to the sidewalk with my good friend Ryan on my left. The banner was approximately my height, so the fact that I couldn’t see anything except Ryan and the cars parked to my right made me extremely anxious. Less than 20 seconds went by since we crossed into the road and suddenly, I hear screams of “get on the sidewalk!” and “holy shit, holy shit!” I freeze in confusion and Ryan grabs me and pulls me on to the sidewalk. Several feet in front of me I see another protester… already the cops had picked off their first victim. Half of his body was on the sidewalk, the other half in the street, three cops incapacitate him with their knees. After a moment, I realize that this person happens to be a close friend, and I grab Ryan as we yell “let him go!” and “fuck you!” at the cops. To my right I see another friend get chocked by an officer with a baton and taken to the ground, without any provocation or warning. In an instant, this person went from standing in silent shock, to being kicked in the face, as he lies impotent on the concrete. I stand overwhelmed between two of my friends while I watch their identities be stolen by thugs and turned in to defenseless, nameless bodies.

But I yell, and I do what I can to let my friends know that at the very least, we’re all bearing witness to this attack. For a moment I lose track of Ryan as I see pigs lunge after any bystander within their reach, some run away, some get caught. I step back towards a side street to prevent my own arrest – the cops grope for any body they can get their fist around or bring their baton down on; with this kind of disorganized chaos everyone was at risk for their brutality. A moment passes, and I see Ryan bolt down this dimly lit side street chased by 3 to 4 pigs. It was the first time I watched someone run for their fucking life with the fear that if they got caught, they might not make it out. I find myself screaming “RUN RYAN!” But I stand, immobilized. A second passes, another friend also named Ryan (to prevent confusion this person will be referred to as Ry), sprints around the corner and down the street. I instantly realize he is running to put his body between Ryan and the police chasing him. I begin to comprehend the gravity of the situation: that two people I deeply love are being chased down a dark street by 6 to 8 cops… and my feet move in their direction, just a little… and then I am struck with the disabling realization that more pigs await behind me. What good am I in this situation? How does my certain beating help my friends? Some white shirt runs a few feet down the street and commands “come back, don’t chase them!” No response.

I glance to my right, I hear a friend shouting, demanding that the pigs who are arresting him explain what he has done wrong. They provide no answer. They read him no rights. They simply take him. Another comrade standing near as this is occurring, letting the pigs know what he thinks of them, gets chosen to go down… he manages to out run the fat fuck.

Another moment has passed. I see strange faces with wide eyes all around me. I feel that I am standing in the center of 360 degrees of tumult. I have not moved. I look back down the shadowy street. Ryan is now on the sidewalk. His face smashed against the concrete. There are at least two pieces of shit taking out their dissatisfaction with their lives on his face and body. He is beaten with feet. He is beaten with an archaic bludgeon they euphemistically call a baton – as though they spin and twirl them on their nights off. I am so scared. I am so fucking scared. I think of his little daughter. This beautiful, little person who doesn’t deserve to have to experience the misery and violence of life so early. They pick him up. The very people who chased him down a street, beat him, now have the power to take away all of his defenses and determine his fate. As he is walked up the street, I see his face covered in something and I pray to a god I don’t believe in that it is dirt. I know it is not dirt, but all I can do is hope that what I just saw didn’t actually happen. His stare is blank. He looked so confused. I was the first person he saw but I don’t think he actually saw me. I asked him, “did they hurt you?” Of course I fucking knew they hurt him, but I just wanted to hear his voice and let him know that this person on the sidewalk gives a shit. His voice quivered, “Yes.” One of the pigs is repeatedly yelling, “I fucking showed you respect.”

I watch him be lead up the street and a friend comes out from the shadows and follows behind the three. The same cop who just declared himself such a respectful individual lunges at her, puffs up his chest and shouts “don’t you walk behind me, woman.” She backs up and I start following behind her, up to the main street that only minutes earlier we attempted to march down. As Ryan is being escorted through the crowd, people chant “shame.” And the white shirts start to disperse the crowds.

I find some friends, and we are all in shock. I somehow didn’t see Ry get escorted up the street. I knew what he did, but I can’t imagine how he did it. I don’t have words to describe the feelings I have when I think about him running to help Ryan. I have never seen such love for another person. I have never seen something so full of life. I will never forget what he did that night. I learn that he was also brutally beaten by the pigs. We all know our friends are fucked. They tried to hold on to their autonomy and that is what would most condemn them… later we learned that they were being charged with absurd crimes. How else would the state justify the violence of their paid enforcers?

For those that have never witnessed police violence, I want to make something clear. Nothing about this situation followed the prescription of an arrest – this media image of a “You are under arrest. You have the right…” is not what happens in real life. A friend said it best, what happened Thursday night was some gangsta shit. It was angry, vicious people jumping unarmed protesters and bystanders. It was an attack. It was intentional brutality. They did not follow any procedure of kettling, “less lethal” tactics, etc. Their actions were directly targeting individuals and beating the shit out of them. It was so fucked up.

The rhetoric of violence vs. non-violence is utterly irrelevant and insulting. My friends disappeared for 24 hours. Some strangers, who were weaponized and free from scrutiny, were deciding what was to be done with them. Pigs and judges have been given the power to determine the course of their lives. There is no such thing as non-violence. There is no such thing as safety. These ideas are complete illusions, and one can only hold on to them as long as one has the privilege to avoid the violence that maintains society. As we participate and live our lives, all we are doing is avoiding repression.

I am traumatized. I am having flashbacks, and the more I try to make the motions of my mundane life the more vivid they become. Work, school, friendly conversations all seem completely devoid of meaning. All I can do is tell the story of my experience and force the people I surround myself with to question the society we participate in. I am so fucking angry.

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