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(en) US, NY, MEDIA: WEF Protest Arrests - villagevoice.com exclusive [EXCERPTS]

From Clore Daniel C <clore@columbia-center.org>
Date Tue, 5 Feb 2002 06:38:20 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

Cops Move on Masked Demonstrators Black Bloc Busted for

by Lenora Todaro

February 2—As a New York City police paddy wagon and NYC
corrections department school bus drove up to the southwest
corner of the midtown Plaza Hotel, nervous chatter skidded
across the few thousand strong gathering of anti-World
Economic Forum demonstrators. Police lines tightened and
journalists and passersby were shooed onto corners. 

Soon after, at approximately 2 p.m., a scuffle indeed broke
out. As protesters began to march toward the Waldorf-Astoria
Hotel where the Forum is taking place, police isolated a
group wearing bandanas across their faces, with a few clad
in motorcycle helmets and swimming goggles. The activists
carried plastic shields decorated with painted trees. Police
moved in, pulling them out from the largely peaceful crowd,
slapping plastic handcuffs on their wrists, and dragging
them behind police lines. 

A few rounds of pepper spray were fired as the crowd swelled
and began to shout "Whose streets? Our streets." At least
one medic confirmed treating a demonstrator for pepper

No officer on the scene would confirm how many people were
arrested or what they were charged with, but there were more
than a dozen, and most likely they were cited for violating
the city's obscure 1845 law against wearing a mask. Two
protesters resisted arrest, prompting some five burly
officers to sit upon them. 

Police confiscated and smashed the plastic shields and a
large puppet. But the charges can't all be based on the mask
law. According to Mina McFarlane, a laywer and legal
observer with the Mass Defense committee, one arrestee was a
Jeremy Hutchens, an attorney with the National Lawyer's
Guild in Washington D.C. He was not wearing a mask. 


By some reports, the crowd today included an estimated 5000
people. At a press conference, Police Commissioner Raymond
Kelly confirmed 27 arrests outside the Plaza Hotel, and 36
altogether thus far, most for unlawful assembly and
disorderly conduct. 


Protesters Feel the Sting of New York's Finest

The Ugliness of Force

by Laura Conaway

February 3-New York City police have been quietly savoring a
public relations victory this weekend as they've so far
corralled demonstrators at the World Economic Forum and kept
property destruction to a minimum. 

But that doesn't mean their work has been pretty-or
peaceful. These photos capture the scene that erupted today
after 20 or so demonstrators began marching against traffic
up Third Avenue in lower Manhattan. Cops quickly moved in,
as if they knew the protesters were coming. As the blues
poured in and the billy clubs started flying, the crowd
swelled to some 200 activists, who broke off into impromptu
games of Ring-Around-the-Rosie, chanted the familiar refrain
of "Whose streets? Our Streets" and refused orders to get
out of the road and onto the sidewalk. 

Police began making arrests, wrapping activists' wrists with
plastic cuffs and putting people on paddy wagons. Since the
Forum began last week, the official arrest tally has risen
to 46-a much smaller number than activist and law
enforcement insiders anticipated. At 6:30 p.m., the NYPD
didn't have a full count of those picked up today, but in a
press release activists said 60 people were arrested and one
person knocked unconscious. Later reports brought the arrest
total citywide to 154. 

Today's civil disobedience may provide a prelude for
demonstrations tonight and tomorrow, as activists move away
from the heavy police presence near the Forum's headquarters
at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel and create spontaneous
disturbances around the city. They seem to be enjoying the
game of cat and mouse. Some this afternoon were heard joking
they'd make the cops miss the Super Bowl. 

If the folks in blue do miss the game, at least they'll have
been paid well. Early estimates of overtime cost to the city
have run as high as $11 million. 

Tell us what you think. mailto:editor@villagevoice.com

Posted February 2nd, 2002 11:45 AM


Five Nabbed in East Village Arrest Watch: Busted Fiercely at

by Ariston-Lizabeth Anderson

February 2—Direct-action insiders here for the World
Economic Forum anticipated an action at CHARAS, the East 9th
Street community center evicted in December. The building,
scene of CHARAS's long and lost battle with developer Gregg
Singer, symbolized for them corporate greed. Had CHARAS
still had possession of it, the converted school would have
made a perfect convergence center for incoming
out-of-towners. And the wooden boards now surrounding the
building were no small reminder of the fence walling off
free-trade delegates in Quebec City last April-those boards,
like that fence, were waiting to be torn down. 

Protesters even anticipated the NYPD taking a heavy hand
against the action. What wasn't expected was how quickly the
police rushed to the scene and how roughly the protesters
were dealt with. 

Around 10:45 last night, a crowd of about 30 longtime CHARAS
supporters, out-of-town WEF protesters, and Manhattan kids,
came around the corner of Avenue C and 9th Street, singing
festively as they marched toward their former safe space. 

One kid banged on the front of the building, while a couple
of others yanked on the boards, managing to pull off two
planks of wood. Instantly, at least two dozen police
officers, some in plain clothes, rushed from the direction
of Avenue B, running with nightsticks held high above their
heads. One female officer shouted, "Cuff anyone who's
running!" Five or six activists were thrown to the ground
and beaten with sticks. 

"It was really ridiculous, absolute police brutality," said
John Spiegler, 15, who had just come from a punk show when
he witnessed a close friend being hauled off. "They handled
this the wrong way." In the end, five protesters were
arrested, proof of the zero-tolerance attitude police had

A police spokesperson this morning said the five were
charged with attempted burglary and were likely awaiting a
court hearing today. 

Before today, eight people had been arrested as WEF
protesters, including seven ACT UP members who have been


Seven Activists Freed

Arrest Watch: NY Jails Called Unprepared

by Laura Conaway

February 1—All seven ACT UP activists arrested yesterday
have been released, giving the world a first glimpse at New
York's plans for handling what could eventually be hundreds
of arrests during the World Economic Forum. Police have said
they can handle a flood of a thousand arrests if need be—but
faced with an initially small stream, they seemed less sure
of the right response. 

ACT UP member Sharonann Lynch said she and four other women
nabbed while hanging a banner downtown on Thursday morning
spent much of the day being driven around Brooklyn by
police. Two male activists were separated from the group and
released yesterday afternoon. Meanwhile, Lynch and the
others-labeled WEF Females 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5-were initially
taken to the Brooklyn Naval Yard, only to have the officers
discover that facility had been reserved for male

Next, cops took them to the "Tombs," a jail in Lower
Manhattan, where Lynch said five cells are ready to receive
protesters. Those pens will quickly overflow, she said, if
police begin rounding people up during weekend
demonstrations. Still, the officers seemed excited over
their new system for processing protesters. "There were a
lot of kinks," she said. "It was funny to see five people
working on putting one wristband on one inmate." 

Lynch said police talked early on about hitting them with
serious charges like burglary and breaking and entering.
That would be consistent with law enforcement tactics in
places like Philadelphia, where Police Commissioner John
Timoney rounded up hundreds of demonstrators at the 2000 GOP
convention on felony charges that were later drastically
reduced. Under Timoney, now a private consultant helping
mastermind New York's enforcement this week, protesters
faced bail as high as $1 million-enough to keep them off the
streets until the meetings ended. 

In the end, Lynch and company were accused only of criminal
mischief and reckless endangerment. After they were
interrogated and held for a few hours at Manhattan's Central
Booking, police set them free at 4:30 this morning. "They
were decent," she said, "and we kept making the point that
you're decent now, but we hope you'll still be decent after
you've arrested your 50th protester." 

In addition to the ACT UP members, a lone man from
California was arrested Thursday for spraying graffiti on a
Starbucks coffee shop. At noon, a police spokesman said that
so far no one else had been arrested. 

AIDS Activists Among First Jailed Arrest Watch: Eight and

by Laura Conaway

January 31—The New York chapter of ACT UP reports seven of
its members were arrested at dawn this morning while hanging
two massive banners in midtown and downtown Manhattan. The
banners demanded that corporations carry the cost of
treatment for their workers in poor countries and criticized
the Bush administration's lack of attention to AIDS issues. 

The seven activists, among the first to be arrested in
protests at the World Economic Forum, were taken to the
Brooklyn Navy Yard and the "Tombs" facility in lower
Manhattan. Two had been released by Thursday afternoon, but
ACT UP expects the others may be held until the meetings

Demonstrators are watching to see whether New York cops
replicate what has become the prevailing strategy at global
confabs, where hundreds have been arrested on charges that
are later dropped or radically reduced. Kate Krauss of ACT
UP described this "preventive detention" approach as an
unconstitutional means of squelching dissent. "All you have
to do is charge them with an exorbitant charge and they're
frozen," she said. 

A police spokesman said five of the demonstrators had been
charged with criminal mischief and reckless endangerment,
and another two had been nabbed on administrative
violations. No information about the possibility of posting
bail was immediately available. 

In addition to the ACT UP members, a lone man from
California was arrested for spraying graffiti on a Starbucks
coffee shop.

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