Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Statistics and Stories

Arrest in Nashville

Denver Police Action -- suspected provocateurs spotted as well... hmm.

Sam Seder Explains It All For You -- Re: Albany, NY

I've been idly working on another statistical snapshot of the Occupy Movement, this time concentrating on Capital cities and the contrasts in how the Authorties have been dealing with the demonstrations and occupations.

Albany, NY, is of course the stand out model, where the local police department essentially refused direct orders from on high to arrest the rabble and clear them from the Capitol grounds. The police said No, they had many more important things to do.

To be blunt, this is what has to happen. The police have discretion, everywhere, in their enforcement of the Law, and it is quite possible for them to use that discretion to say, "No, we won't arrest them, this is a waste of our time."

Denver, CO on the other hand, has witnessed repeated episodes of clearance and return, and at least one episode of police pepper spraying, tear gassing, and firing of "rubber bullets" on the crowd. ("Rubber bullets" in quotes because they are projectiles related to paintballs, fired from paintball guns, rather than actual rubber coated bullets fired from regular rifles.) There have been several dozen arrests over the period of the confrontations.

Richmond, VA's Occupation had a Visitation from its mayor that felt -- at least in the video I saw -- not unlike the Visitation in Sacramento by KJ, the upshot being that He, in His Majesty, would treat with the "leaders" of the Occupation, in Dialogue, to See What Could Be Done.

Of course, days later, the camp was cleared with a bulldozer. So it goes. I don't know about arrests yet.

Santa Fe, NM's Occupation, on the other hand, has been given a chunk of park land in the Railroad District where they may stay indefinitely with the encouragement and support of the City.

Of course, this has led to jealousy in Albuquerque where the Occupation was evicted from the UNM campus the other night, without much ceremony, but with several dozen arrests, and the protest demonstration that followed the clearance of Camp Coyote was met with considerable force by the police -- who used tear gas to break it up. Some wag pointed out that Santa Fe's Occupation was getting away with it because they can afford lawyers to fight the matter in court. UPDATE: UNM has just re-issued a permit for (Un)Occupy Albuquerque's stay on campus.

Austin, TX has had quite an up and down ride with its Occupation of City Hall's brutalist concrete exterior. The other day, 38 Occupy Austin participants were arrested for... something. Being there, essentially, and not being polite about it. They had set up tables in the City Hall forecourt for food and information, an action they believed was permitted. Police arrived in force and took down the tables; this caused a loud verbal reaction by the Occupiers which in turn led to numerous arrests for disorderly conduct. There have been many incidents of harassment by the Austin authorities during the period of the Occupation, from insisting that the site must be power-washed every night, to prohibitions on this, that, or the other necessary accessory to the Occupation.

Nashville, TN's Occupation was cleared from Legislative Plaza one night, by order of the City, for all the usual "sanitation" reasons, with dozens of arrests, destruction of the camp, yadda, yadda, and until a local judge intervened, all seemed lost. Behold, he ordered a halt to the arrests and that the camp be restored. Who'd a thunk. But the arrests have continued.

Atlanta, GA's Occupation was cleared from a downtown park with many arrests and has regrouped indoors temporarily. Occupy Atlanta announced its intention to reclaim Troy Davis Park on November 5.

Sacramento, CA's crack legal team is supposed to file a suit in Federal court to stop the arrests today (Tuesday), but we'll see. Press conference scheduled at 10am at the Federal Courthouse.

Des Moines, IA's Occupation was cleared, with dozens of arrests, weeks ago now. The Occupation resumed and it is now being subjected to the usual idiotic harassment.

These are just the ones I've been able to follow to date; there are many others of interest, and I'll be trying to collect information on all the Occupations in Capital Cities.

Meanwhile, some stories of being arrested and incarcerated for 'being there' have begun to emerge. I'm surprised there aren't more of them, though. I've heard some brief comments by people who have been arrested here that they have experienced and witnessed things at the jail that have been eye-opening and horrifying, including incidents of arbitrary, unprovoked violence and brutality by the deputies.

But they haven't testified.

This surprises me.

This story, from one of the women who was arrested at the CitiBank branch in New York on October 15 is unusually graphic. It's well worth a read.

A key graph:

During an inordinately lengthy fingerprinting procedure, with the male officers operating the machines and the female officers locking and unlocking our cells as we were called out one by one, it sometimes seemed the police outnumbered us. But still, it took what seemed like hours.

Barely back in our cells, we were taken out again, handcuffed again, this time with a chain between our cuffs, and led “upstairs.” But there had been some mistake. A female officer told "our" officer that, no, she couldn’t process us. Some paperwork was missing, some order, some stamp. Time to cuff us again and go down the stairs back into our cells. How many more instances of handcuffing, uncuffing, leading us up and down stairs and long hallways, waiting, returning, repeating what seemed nonsensical procedures and reversals then followed I do not know and did not count. But a deep sense of disorganization, competence fighting incompetence, if not chaos, reigned. It seemed as if, in the name of bureaucratic rules and regulations, in the name of "security," we were witnessing a dysfunctional institution and people not used to daylight shining in; people generally accountable to no one but themselves.

It's not just a waste of time and money, it's stupid.

Mind-bogglingly stupid. And if this level of official stupidity is applied to peaceful protestors, just think what it is like for someone criminally arrested.

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