Last night I was arrested for the first time. Why? Because I took part in Occupy Wall Street by showing up to document this historic event. I'm only one of over 700 that were arrested. I can't speak for everyone there, but I can speak for myself. What follows is my account of what happened yesterday afternoon along with photos that I took during the march. But first let me preface this by saying that while supportive of the Occupy Wall Street event, and inspired by the actions of ordinary people standing up to demand an end to corporate greed and corruption, as a busy student I was not "mobilized" into action. Yesterday's actions by the NYPD, however, have turned me into one pissed off and mobilized person, as I'm sure it has many.
Both my boyfriend and myself have been following the events at Zuccotti Park and the Occupy Wall Street movement. I've admired from the sidelines as people have stood up for their beliefs, something I'm ashamed to say that I haven't done very often lately. Yesterday, we decided to head down to the park and take part in the march in order to document it. We both grabbed our cameras and headed out, arriving at the park around 3:30pm. By that point the march had started, and we ran ahead several blocks to beat the march in order to take photos of the lead. We took our photos and then began to move around and among the crowd to gather more images.
Soon the crowd crossed the street towards the Brooklyn Bridge. As they crossed, people began to become confused about whether to walk on the pedestrian walk-way or the street. The group split into two, and kept marching. We chose to take the pedestrian walk-way at first. As we looked down to the street, we saw that the police were seemingly leading the protesters to the street in order to keep them safe (or so we thought). At that point, we opted to go back onto the street rather than continue of the pedestrian path.
As we went into the street we heard no warnings at all, none. As you can see in this video, police are ahead of the marchers
, seemingly leading them. No warnings are shouted. Warning may have been made to these leading in the front of the crowd, but no warnings were made to the mass of the people. Many were confused and were told nothing by the police officers that were in the middle and rear of the march. Also, in the video posted by NYPD
that they claim shows that they warned protesters that their marching on the bridge was illegal, you can clearly see that the video was shot when protestors were already on the bridge. In fact, at this point the protesters had already been netted in with orange nets, preventing from "dispersing" as they were telling us to do. We were in the back of the crowd by this point, where the nets were first put in place.
At this point people began to line up in order to leave the bridge willingly. The officers were only letting about five people at a time leave. Several minutes passed and suddenly they quit letting people leave. A white shirted officer began to shout to the rear of the crowd, "You wanted to stay! Now you're staying! You're all getting arrested!" Many people in the rear of the crowd began to freak out - many were crying and begging to leave willingly.
I contemplated what to do. In my mind it would be better for me to willingly turn myself in so that I could leave sooner and show that I was not resisting arrest, and explain that I was there to document and take photos. I was then yelled at by the same white-shirt that yelled at the crowd earlier, "You wanna go in? Ok, then step right up", as if I was insincere about my willingness to go in.
So I stepped up. I was put against the railing of the bridge, searched and then cuffed with plastic zip-ties. The cuffs would come back to bite me. I was then placed in a van along with six other females who willingly turned themselves in and we were driven to several different places before being taken to a Precinct with room for us - or so they thought. We sat in the car for over two and a half hours before being taken inside. During this time my arresting officer agreed with me that my cuffs were too tight, and after having them on for about two hours he cut them and placed new ones on. My hands were numb by this point, my wrists blistered and bruised, and my right hand was purple.
Finally we were taken inside where we were again searched, all of our personal property seized, and I was put into a cell made for one person with two other women. We remained there for over six hours. Keep in mind that during this eight hour plus ordeal we were not given food or water. We were not told what was going on, and allowed no phone calls.
I turned myself in at 5pm, immediately after calling my mother to let her know that she wouldn't hear from me for what I thought would be "a few" hours tops. I left the police station and finally called her back at 1:56am, pissed off, angry, hurt, and traumatized from the whole experience. I walked home from the station at which I was held, calling frantically to see if my boyfriend, who was also detained, was out yet. It was 45 minutes later that he was released.
I have a court date in November. I can choose to either pay a small fine and plead guilty to "obstructing vehicular activity" and "disorderly conduct", or show up to court in order to dispute the charges. I plan on showing up, and I plan on disputing.
In the end I'm glad I was arrested. This event has sparked something in me that's been lacking since I came to university and busied myself with schoolwork and internships. I'm passionate about fighting for my country again, and I don't plan on keeping silent.
The police may have tried to deter us, but instead they've impassioned us.
I am one of the 99%, and I'm mad as hell.
Find out more here: www.occupywallst.org