First-person Account of Arrest, Brief Jail Time During #occupywallst

Home Brooklyn Life First-person Account of Arrest, Brief Jail Time During #occupywallst

You may know what happened when protestors and police officers clashed on the Brooklyn Bridge a few days ago during #occupywallst, but have you read an actual first-person account of someone who was there?

The @newinquiry’s Managing Editor Malcolm Harris (@destructuremal) was arrested at the demonstration near Zuccotti Park and jailed for a short time.

Here are a few excerpts from his post:

“I don’t think there’s another country in the world where a protest march of thousands of citizens would be expected to confine itself to the sidewalks, where the flow of traffic is so sacrosanct that lines of police scooters guard the gutter like we need an escort.”

“We reach the entrance to the bridge, and the absurdity of the original plan becomes quickly apparent. The crowd is far too big to fit orderly at the entrance to the pedestrian walkway. A large mass of people overflows onto the entrance to the Brooklyn-bound motorway.” 

“The head of the march fractures at the fork onto the pedestrian walkway and the motorway entrance. The rest of the crowd is behind them and undivided, but the motorway is the bigger of the two outlets. There are a handful of police, mostly senior officers, with a megaphone and only a few zip-ties blocking it. One of the more senior officers tries to read a warning over his megaphone, telling us to walk on the pedestrian bridge to avoid arrest, but he’s drowned out by chants of ‘Take the bridge! Take the bridge!’ The march marshals who told the police the route in advance give up trying to wave people back onto the approved path, a few of them shrug and join the chant, others are livid.”

“When we reach about halfway across the bridge, we see the police have called reinforcements and set up a orange mesh barrier preventing our advance. I can’t see the back of the march, but we hear from whispers that we’re enclosed at both ends. Unsure whether we’re safer sitting or standing, we try both in rapid alternating succession. A Latino teenager turns to me, shakes his head and says, “Man, I’ve got priors, I can’t get arrested.” He sighs and pulls out his phone to call his mom. There are a few tense moments.”

“The police start grabbing people from the center. There’s a valiant effort from the front lines to grab them back, but we have nowhere to go. A white-shirted officer extends and collapses his metal baton. One by one the police snatch the protesters, and it dawns upon everyone that they have enough zip-tie cuffs for all of us, that they probably have one for each person in the city. One guy resists and a handful of officers slam him head-first to the asphalt.”

“My cell-mates are my two friends and roommates and two guys we don’t know. One is a recent transplant to New York, a structural architect in his mid-twenties who works restoring historical buildings, the other is a buff and jocular finance student from Ontario visiting New York for the first time. None of us has been in a cell before, but no one is regretful. During the whole trip through processing, I didn’t hear one person complain that they were tricked or arrested unjustly.”

For Harris’ full story, head over to The New Inquiry:

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