Tahrir Square Comes to New York, Act I, Scene II, Cops Set Civilians Up For Mass Arrest

Posted on Sunday, 2nd October 2011 @ 09:50 AM by Text Size A | A | A

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Cops allow 1000 people to march on bridge, then hem them in for a mass arrest.  In military strategy, this is a pincer movement.





WATCH VIDEO   700 Arrested on Brooklyn Bridge



In a tense showdown above the East River, the police arrested more
than 700 demonstrators from the Occupy Wall Street protests who took to
the roadway as they tried to cross the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday

The police said it was the marchers’ choice that led to
the enforcement action.

“Protesters who used the Brooklyn Bridge
walkway were not arrested,” Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the
New York Police Department, said. “Those who took over the
Brooklyn-bound roadway, and impeded vehicle traffic, were arrested.”

many protesters said they believed the police had tricked them,
allowing them onto the bridge, and even escorting them partway across,
only to trap them in orange netting after hundreds had entered.

cops watched and did nothing, indeed, seemed to guide us onto the
roadway,” said Jesse A. Myerson, a media coordinator for Occupy Wall
Street who marched but was not arrested.


video on the YouTube page of a
group called We Are Change shows some of the arrests.

Around 1 a.m.,
the first of the protesters held at the Midtown North Precinct on West
54th Street were released. They were met with cheers from about a
half-dozen supporters who said they had been waiting as a show of
solidarity since 6 p.m. for around 75 people they believed were held
there. Every 10 to 15 minutes, they trickled out into a night far
chillier than the afternoon on the bridge, each clutching several thin
slips of paper — their summonses, for violations like disorderly conduct
and blocking vehicular traffic. The first words many spoke made the
group laugh: all variations on “I need a cigarette.”

David Gutkin,
24, a Ph.D. student in musicology at Columbia University, was among the
first released. He said that after being corralled and arrested on the
bridge, he was put into plastic handcuffs and moved to what appeared to
be a Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus, along with dozens of
other protesters, for over four hours. They headed first into Brooklyn
and then to several locations in Manhattan before arriving at the 54th
Street precinct.

Men and women had been held separately, two or
three to a cell. A few said they had been zip-tied the entire time. “We
sang ‘This Little Light of Mine,’ ” said Annie Day, 34, who when asked
her profession said, “I’m a revolutionary.” Ms. Day was wearing laceless
Converse sneakers: police had required the removal of all laces as well
as her belt. She rethreaded them on the pavement while a man who
identified himself as a lawyer took each newly freed person’s name.

of the protesters interviewed knew if the bridge march was planned or a
spontaneous decision by the crowd. But all insisted that the police had
made no mention that the roadway was off limits. Ms. Day and several
others said that police officers had walked beside the crowd until the
group reached about midway, then without warning began to corral the
protesters behind orange nets.

Brett Wolfson-Stofko, center, ran through a
line of cheering supporters after being released from the Midtown South
Precinct in Manhattan.Sarah
Maslin Nir for The New York TimesBrett
Wolfson-Stofko, center, ran through a line of cheering supporters after
being released from the Midtown South Precinct in Manhattan.

scene outside the Midtown South Precinct on West 35th Street around 2
a.m. was far more jovial. Only about 15 of the rumored 57 people had
been released, but about a dozen waiting supporters danced jigs in the
street to keep warm. They snacked on pizza. One even drank Coors Light
beer, stashing the empty bottles under a parked police van. When a fresh
protester was released, he or she ran through a gantlet formed by the
waiting group, like a football player bursting onto the field during the
Super Bowl. “This is so much better than prison!” one cheered.

cold,” said Rebecca Solow, 27, rubbing her arms as she waited on the
sidewalk, “but every time one is released, it warms you up.”

march on the bridge had come to a head shortly after 4 p.m., as the
1,500 or so marchers reached the foot of the Brooklyn-bound car lanes of
the bridge, just east of City Hall.

In their march north from
Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan — headquarters for the last two weeks
of a protest movement against what demonstrators call inequities in the
economic system — they had stayed on the sidewalks, forming a long
column of humanity penned in by officers on scooters.

Where the
entrance to the bridge narrowed their path, some marchers, including
organizers, stuck to the generally agreed-upon route and headed up onto
the wooden walkway that runs between and about 15 feet above the
bridge’s traffic lanes.

But about 20 others headed for the
Brooklyn-bound roadway, said Christopher T. Dunn of the New York Civil
Liberties Union, who accompanied the march. Some of them chanted “take
the bridge.” They were met by a handful of high-level police
supervisors, who blocked the way and announced repeatedly through
bullhorns that the marchers were blocking the roadway and that if they
continued to do so, they would be subject to arrest.

There were no
physical barriers, though, and at one point, the marchers began walking
up the roadway with the police commanders in front of them – seeming,
from a distance, as if they were leading the way. The Chief of
Department Joseph J. Esposito, and a horde of other white-shirted
commanders, were among them.

Police secured some protesters' hands with
plastic ties.Ozier
Muhammad/The New York TimesPolice secured
some protesters’ hands with plastic ties.

After allowing
the protesters to walk about a third of the way to Brooklyn, the police
then cut the marchers off and surrounded them with orange nets on both
sides, trapping hundreds of people, said Mr. Dunn. As protesters at
times chanted “white shirts, white shirts,” officers began making
arrests, at one point plunging briefly into the crowd to grab a man.

police said that those arrested were taken to several police stations
and were being charged with disorderly conduct, at a minimum.

freelance reporter for The New York Times, Natasha Lennard, was among
those arrested. She was later released.

Mr. Dunn said he was
concerned that those in the back of the column who might not have heard
the warnings “would have had no idea that it was not O.K. to walk on the
roadway of the bridge.” Mr. Browne said that people who were in the
rear of the crowd that may not have heard the warnings were not arrested
and were free to leave.

Earlier in the afternoon, as many as 10
Department of Correction buses, big enough to hold 20 prisoners apiece,
had been dispatched from Rikers Island in what one law enforcement
official said was “a planned move on the protesters.”

Ben-Ami, 56, a psychotherapist from Brooklyn who was up on the walkway,
said that the police seemed to make a conscious decision to allow the
protesters to claim the road. “They weren’t pushed back,” he said. “It
seemed that they moved at the same time.”

Mr. Ben-Ami said he left
the walkway and joined the crowd on the road. “It seemed completely
permitted,” he said. “There wasn’t a single policeman saying ‘don’t do

He added: “We thought they were escorting us because they
wanted us to be safe.” He left the bridge when he saw officers unrolling
the nets as they prepared to make arrests. Many others who had been on
the roadway were allowed to walk back down to Manhattan.

Browne said that  the police did not trick the protesters into going
onto the bridge.

“This was not a trap,” he said. “They were warned
not to proceed.”

In related protests elsewhere in the country, 25
people were arrested in Boston for trespassing while protesting Bank of
America’s foreclosure practices, according to Eddy Chrispin, a
spokesman for the Boston Police Department. The protesters were on the
grounds and blocking the entrance to the building, Mr. Chrispin said.

Lennard, William K. Rashbaum and Elizabeth A. Harris contributed

Source  New York Times

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