Monday, March 5, 2012

The Occupation of The Capitol

Arrests are being arranged at this moment. There are an unknown number of people inside the Capitol who have volunteered to be arrested -- at least fifty and possibly quite a few more. There are a few livestreamers in the building, but where they are in relation to one another, I can't say. There are a number of people -- some identified as legislators -- standing on the balcony that surrounds the Capitol rotunda watching the arrest of those below. There have been nonviolent resistance training sessions, and local pro bono lawyers are circulating among the volnteers to ensure they understand what is likely to take place. According to reports, people are being arrested, cited and released.

The local mainstream media is practically orgasmic with visions of Black Bloc ("as they're called") dancing in their heads; the expectations of "violence" are in hyper-drive. There has been no violence all day, so they are now speculating that "under cover of darkness" the "violent protesters will appear." If they do, they are more than likely provocateurs...

When I left the Capitol this evening, the horse police were just leaving their backup role for the RoboCops. I was yakking with people out front of the Capitol too much to get any really good pictures of the police line, but this one may give you an idea:

The couple raising their fists were doing a dance that the horse police seemed to be enjoying immensely. People who counted said there were approximately 90 officers in RoboGear, plus another hundred or so in reserve, plus about 50 "regular" state police (CHP) Capitol officers on hand. None of the RoboCops had visible identification -- which is... problematic... as the the California Penal Code section 830.10 requires:

Any uniformed peace officer shall wear a badge, nameplate, or other device which bears clearly on its face the identification number or name of the officer.
An officer in Oakland who covered his name tag was disciplined, his supervisor was demoted. What will happen to the RoboCops in this instance is anyone's guess.

But at this point, the police presence is thinning as it is getting late, and since jurisdictions are broke, there isn't much overtime budgeted.

The arrests inside are proceeding slowly...

UPDATE: Numbers of those arrested vary from 70 to 100 or so. The Capitol is now (8:30p) "clear" of the taint of Occupy.


  1. Would you say that CHP is mainly treating this as a ritualistic demonstration, then?

    I would think that CHP feels it can afford to be much more low-key since it's not going to have to deal with this on a regular basis; in contrast to Oakland, San Francisco, etc.

    Incidentally, I like your new theme.

  2. There's no escaping ritual actions in connection with the Capitol and its police.

    CHP is almost always low-key about these things. The Capitol force is used to it. There are pretty constant protests and demonstrations at the Capitol, and civil disobedience leading to arrest is frequent enough. But it is generally a highly ritualized affair, as it was tonight. For example, a CHP officer went up to each arrestee and asked whether they would get up on their own or would they require "assistance." The officers who took them away were firm but gentle. The arrests were done one at a time, completely peacefully, and with a good deal of respect for the student-citizens being arrested. I didn't even see any zip-ties being used.

    The appearance of the RoboCops was more ritual. It was designed as a show of force, but no force was applied. Instead, the crowd got to see the fancy uniforms with all sorts of padding and whatnot (the public rarely gets to see the full riot get up in this area.) The horse police were their back up, but they were withdrawn, then the RoboCops were withdrawn, and more and more officers were withdrawn until there was only a skeletal force (of Sacramento PD officers) handling security outside the Capitol, and most of the Capitol force was sent home once the inside had been "cleared."

    And then some of it will start up again tomorrow... ;-)