Marshall Garrett Tells the Voice About Being Arrested For Occupying Citibank

MarhsallGarrett.png
Garrett was arrested in Citibank's lobby.
On Saturday, a group of Occupy Wall Street protestors were arrested in the LaGuardia Place Citibank. Among them was freelance photographer and actor Marshall Garrett. Garrett, who has a bank account with Chase, had originally intended to go to that bank, close his account, and go to the big Times Square event in the evening.

Instead, when the Citibank crew needed more people, he and three friends went along for the ride, got arrested, and spent the next day and a half in custody.

We spoke to Garrett on the phone today. Here's an edited transcript of our conversation.

How did you get involved with what happened on Saturday?

With the Occupy movement in general, I've had a lot of viewpoints. I have friends who work with the things Occupy Wall Street is against, and I have a lot of friends who are on the other side. I've followed what's been happening, and watched a lot of the videos. The day before [the Citi arrests], that Friday, I decided to check out the actual rally near Wall Street.

A bunch of my friends were staying there overnight. That's when I first showed up, and I knew I wanted to throw myself into the whole thing. The next day, I originally was going to go straight to Times Square. But by the time me and my friends got together, we decided to join the General Assembly, and they wanted to make a statement towards financial institutions.

We met at Washington Square Park. And we wanted to talk about, you know, entering the banks. But we made it an effort to not be violent, or extremely disruptive of the banks we were protesting. We chose to go to a Chase and a Citibank near Washington Square Park, and we were very, very careful in planning it. We talked and didn't want to create any violence, but we wanted to create a scene that would get our point across to everyone. That's what planned actions have historically been. We're a very smart, very, very peaceful group of people. We didn't want it to turn violent, or into the mass arrest which it did. We planned to stay until the moment we were told to leave or we'd be arrested, and then leave.

So we split into two groups. I was going to go to Chase, because I have an account there and I was going to close it. Part of the planning involved closing down our accounts. But we needed more people to support the Citi action, so me and three of my friends decided to go to Citi.

How big was your group?

It was about 27, 28 of us. When we got to the bank, we marched in, and clapped, and had a meeting. We had an open forum, and we actually tried to involve the bank employees, if they wished. And a few people talked about student loans and what debt was doing to them as individuals, and what could be changed about that. Unilike a lot of the reports, it was very respectful. We told the employees that we wanted them to keep their jobs and we were respectful. And they asked us to leave.

But legally, we're allowed to stay until the cops come and say, if you don't leave you'll be arrested. But what was unknown to us and to a lot of people that day, including those in Times Square, was that there were undercover cops already there, paid to be disruptive and to be loud. One undercover cop present [at Citi] was louder than the entire group.

How did you know he was an undercover cop?

He arrested one of the protestors outside, and slammed her into the wall, and pushed her back into the bank. We all saw him at the precinct with us. He was laughing with the fellow white shirt cops, telling them about what we'd been saying, basically. It was a bit startling how inside their information was - how they were being paid to go to these protests and put us in situations where we'd be arrested and not be able to leave.

Anyway, after that, they announced they were closing the doors. But they were closing the doors as they said this. They pushed everyone -

"They" who? Bank security?

Yeah, the bank security, along with the undercover officer, pushed us back and locked the doors. They would not allow us to leave, which is illegal, and said the cops are on the way and you are all arrested.

At that point, right before we left, three people who came with us were gone. That's why it was 24 arrests.

How were they able to leave?

They left when the bank teller first asked us to leave. Everyone there but me and my two friends had a Citi account. But nothing was able to happen because they immediately locked us in. They didn't care if we were customers or not. Then the police started to show up. After about 15 minutes, there were about 100 to 150 people outside, and lots of cameras. And the cops tried to block coverage by pushing people away from the bank who had cameras.

From that point, they arrested us all, and they took us outside and put us in vans, and the situation was quite weird. The white coats were in the bank, patting the officers on the back, saying "Good job, good job." And all I could think was, this is in a lot of ways illegal. I don't know how they could say you're doing a good job when they are illegally arresting protestors!

So after that, we were taken to a place that seemed to train officer who just got on the force. We were put in flex cuffs for the entire ride. We went to One Police Plaza, I believe, and our photos were taken, and our IDs were taken, and our stuff was put in bags and taken into custody. My arresting officer said it would last two to three hours at most, and we'd be out the same day. And that was not in fact true. We were placed in holding, and the paperwork processing every prisoner wasn't done until 11 o'clock.

What time did you go in?

It was about 2:30. We didn't get to the facility until 4:00, because they took a lot of time taking our Polaroids. Then we were patted down, and our money had to be checked. They were being purposefully slow to keep us from going to Times Square. We were in the holding area for a long time. Paperwork took four hours that normally takes an hour. There was a lot of relaxing on the officers' parts, a lot of laughing and deciding to be very slow.

We got fed regular peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and milk, or cheese sandwiches. They kept telling us court would be open until 1:00 AM and then we could leave. No one told us it was the weekend and court closed at 11:00 PM. By the time we could go, the judge had left already.

Then we were transported to corrections and we were searched again - this time through metal detectors. We went to prison in chain link cuffs, as if we were real prisoners instead of just protestors. After that, we were put in correction cells. By then, we knew we were staying overnight. And they separated the males and the females.

We found out later in the evening that these white coats - and this is something you should emphasize - these white coats are hired by these banks, and that's why they're more violent than regular cops. They have jurisdiction to do a lot of things because they are hired by these banks to protect these banks.

There are a ridiculous amount of undercover cops within the Occupy Wall Street movement that are making things less safe. There will be a mic check about how to stay safe, stay out of traffic, and the undercover cops interfere, lead people in the wrong way, in ways that are illegal, and get them sent to prison. You saw this in Times Square.

How did you actually get out of custody?

It was a long process, because the white coats in charge delayed the process. The next day, they decided not to take any prisoners to court until after the judge's lunch, which ended at 6:30. So we were in holding from 11:00 AM to 6:30 PM.

Then, literally, my hearing took five minutes.

Were you processed alone?

We were processed with our arresting officer, me and three other people.

Did you make bail then, or were you just processed?

I was processed. We could plead guilty - it was basically a plea bargain. But, since I have video of the entire situation, I pleaded not guilty.

Is that video up online yet?

It's still on my phone. It shows the way we were behaving in the bank, the way things were said.

Are you going to put it up in You Tube?

I haven't decided yet. I would like to, but I want to think about it before putting it up. It does show the entire thing.

The process of getting out was quite long, tedious, and clearly political. We were not able to get our stuff until [Monday] morning, because the place where they were keeping our things was locked. And, a few protestors had things taken from them. One lost a $1,500 camera. Someone else, a few people, lost their cell phones. Luckily, I got everything back.

Me and my friend, we got arrested together. I couldn't go home [without keys] and I had to stay at her place. This morning, we went and got our stuff. We both had all of our things. But we knew people who didn't get all of their items.

Are you going to go back and get in on the Occupy Wall Street action, now that you're out?

Yes, I am. Now, it means more than ever. Seeing the inner workings, and seeing how silly some of these arrests were, and just being able to be in a state to take action, it's important for me to keep doing this. This is affecting so many people.

I'm not trying to get arrested again, though, having seen how they treat people. I don't want our movement to be a movement of pity, or where we try to play the victim. We do try to get things done for the greater good of everyone. But I am trying to get the word our there to clarify what happened.

sthrasher@villagevoice.com | @steven_thrasher

H/t: Kyle Bella/@quixoticblazes

For more coverage of Occupy Wall Street and other New York news, go to Runnin' Scared.


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31 comments
Burnknee
Burnknee

Sounds like Syria or Post-Nazism over there? What gives in the land of the free?

Christopher London, Esq.
Christopher London, Esq.

NYPD SUPER POLICE: The NYPD has had their ranks infiltrated by a higher order, a not so secret police that are in effect ‘Super Police’ with seemingly unlimited powers. The role of NYPD’s White Shirted Stasi and their undercover counterparts is to stamp out any revolution. It is increasingly clear that they are empowered by an agenda, not by the rule of law. There is an undercurrent of trickery and deception being employed by special units within the NYPD. The NYPD was restructured and recomposed in the post 9/11 world. The NYPD has advanced surveillance techniques, its own drones to protect New York Harbor and a professional squad of ex military, CIA and professional warriors integrated within its ranks. But was this to create a shield against terrorism? Or is it something more sinister? To be a force effective at punishing those who dare rise up and question the system. Yes, it all makes sense. 

Diana Maras
Diana Maras

The way this should have been handled is the bank should have allowed each protestor to close their account one by one and than allowed them to leave. Locking the doors and trapping them inside was absolutely ridiculous. Refusing to allow them to close their accounts was absolutely ridiculous. Arresting them for trespassing was absolutely ridiculous. Anyone who defends the bank employee's behavior and the behavior of the police should be bitch slapped repeatedly.

Ron Glasscock
Ron Glasscock

BTW FDL is full of echo chamber communists sucking up to each other. The are so many puppets running around at FDL its not even funny. Like that commie dude OhioGringo he has a bunch of puppets or I mean she does. ...

Ron Glasscock
Ron Glasscock

Its  a bank, the employs and security are on edge in the first place. Which is what the protesters expected. Had no one cared about their little staged 'statement' in the bank we would have never heard about it. Seriously they were trying to make a statement but they were only small group of people. Up until their arrests it was not news worthy. I am not going to loose sleep over someone spending the night in jail when they fully intended to get arrested. The lame excuse about waiting for the cops did not trick me. I wonder why he does not post his vid? Could it be because he has no vid?

And somehow while sitting in jail (and it is jail not prison) he somehow found out that these cops work for banks? How the hell did he do that, hear it from an fellow inmate?

Stories like above are for preaching to the choir or idiots not rational thinking adults.

Djjohnnydahmer
Djjohnnydahmer

send the footage to me ppl need to see it or u got arested for no reason to think we have rights anymore is a joke do the right thing

Mr. Adam Browning
Mr. Adam Browning

I find it irritating that these customers were present during normal posted business operating hours. I'm sure that the manager on duty was feeling intimidated by the number of people in the lobby when the undercover police person was being louder than the remainder of those present, and called for the police. I doubt that they all will be charged with disturbing the peace, since it was on private property. I don't see how criminal trespass can be applied here since, like was pointed out earlier, that this mass arrest occurred to these customers during business hours, and compounded by the blocking of the exit that they were shoved toward. The only crime that I perceive has occurred here is collusion, and I guess I don't know how the law applies to people deciding to close their bank accounts en masse. However this episode reminds me of that scene in "It's a wonderful life" when George Baily has his crisis, and has to use his honeymoon money to satisfy his customers and keep their accounts. I'm going to have to watch that classic again to recall why the townspeople were trying to take all their funds out of Baily Building and Loan, it seems I don't recall why.

Mark Baker
Mark Baker

The worst part of the story was the protester acting as if one police officer detaining 25 people while waiting for backup and keeping those 25 people in a secure location is illegal.  This person needs to learn a little something about reality.

PeterBurgess
PeterBurgess

The Marshall Garrett story is pretty much what I expected to hear. I was around Liberty Park on Thursday, Friday and Saturday last week, and was watching the tactics of the police very carefully. My interest in their tactics was sparked by careful observation of videos from the previous Brooklyn Bridge situation where it was pretty clear that protesters reasonably followed the police onto the traffic lanes,

In my view the core goals of the #OccupyWallStreet are very clear. The majority (99%) of the US population are having to struggle while a few (1%) in banks and the corporate executive suites are getting huge rewards. 99% with deteriorating opportunity and 1% doing better and better. Something is wrong and it needs fixing. 

The whole world is faced with a similar set of economic disconnect. It is not a surprise that many (about 1,300 I think) places around the world have joined the global occupy movement.

But the worst of this is that after 4 weeks the 1% has contributed NOTHING to the dialog about the issue and what can be done to address the issues. Many of the news show commentators are part of an ecosystem of economists and traders who have absolutely no understanding of the issues either at the individual human level or at the level of resource limits and sustainability. They are still in a 19th century modality where growth is good, profits are good and society irrelevant. Forty years of this type of economic thinking and the US economy has been gutted ... BUT, there is now 40 years of catch-up that needs to be done, and this could put everyone to work very quickly EXCEPT that the money to do it has been wasted on the 1% who seem to think they earned it. 

If the bankers and financial leaders (of the 1%) were worth a damn they would be figuring out how to match NEEDS with available HUMAN RESOURCES so that the needs get satisfied. This is not stimulus (which Keynes did not support back in the 30s) but investment (which Keynes did support). I am appalled at the absence of any intellectual input at all from the 1% into the great issues of the day. Shame on them. 

Nobody in the media takes much notice unless there are arrests ... but arrests also promote the movement. The 99% should be concerned however, that small legal infractions by the Occupy community have to face legal consequences, while huge ethical infractions by the 1% in the banking and corporate oligarchy get a free pass. Rule of law is not working in a way that results in much economic justice.

Peter Burgess@truevaluemetric:disqus

rook
rook

Who are those Marshall calls 'white coats,' coordinating with the banks?

>We found out later in the evening that these white coats - and this is something you should emphasize - these white coats are hired by these banks, and that's why they're more violent than regular cops. They have jurisdiction to do a lot of things because they are hired by these banks to protect these banks.

Dqh
Dqh

What fool told this guy that, once he was told to leave private property, he was entitled to remain until the cops came and said, "Yeah, you really have to leave". Once a property owner or his/her/its authorized representative tells you to leave private prpoerty, if you remain on th epremises for any length of time, you have committed criminal trespass, and are subject to arrest and prosecution. If you are smart enough to them leave before the police arrive, you will usually have made it infinitely more difficult for an arrest and prosecution to occur, or the property owner and police may be infinitely less interested in prosecuting, but that only means that you got away with a crime, not that you didn't commit a prosecutable offense.Therefore, Marshall Garrett should reconsider how much time and effort he's going to waste on that not guilty plea.Detention of protesters within the bank by private security until the police arived may seem like a grayer area. However, proceeding from the premise that they had, by then, already committed a crime by refusing instructions to leave prior to their intention, consider an alternative example in which somebody pockets a dollar candy bar from Duane Reade (another petty offense). Nobody would question the authority of private security to detain the alleged offender until police arrived and effected arrest.In both cases, if it turns out that the detainee did not commit a crime and there wasn't reasonable cause to believe he/she/they had dne so, then they would have a civil claim against the detainers.Finally, with respect to "Checkbook Lady", if eyewitness testimony establishes that she was among those asked to leave while she was in the bank and refused to leave for any significant period of time (oddly coincidental that she had chosen the same time to close her account as the protesters who were seking to make a statement by doing so), then, for the reasons stated above, she was also properly subject to arrest and prosecution, regardles of the fact that she may have fled the scene of her crime prior to her apprehension.

creme
creme

What were you all charged with?

Cousin Abraham
Cousin Abraham

Seriously, you disrupt work and inconvenience (bank) workers and you complain about how slow you were processed?! Grow up!

Alia Gee
Alia Gee

Thank you very much for publishing this account. Most of us only have the video taken from outside and the official statement from Citibank, where they claimed only one person (tried to) close(d) their account. It seems clear, now, that the rest of the account holders couldn't close theirs because they were already arrested. Mr. Garrett, I'm sorry that you were unable to make Times Square. While it was lessened by your absence, it still was wonderful to see so many thousands of people rejoicing in feeling like citizens again.

See you at Liberty!

devans00
devans00

The worst part of the story was the deliberate pre-planning of the cops in cahoots with the bank to entrap protesters.  I know the police are keepers of the status quo but damn.

NYlawyer
NYlawyer

When the police intentionally delay processing like that, they are breaking a very important NYC law that says arrestees must be brought before a judge in 24 hours or less.

Thomas Moll
Thomas Moll

I simply cannot understand how a person can take this stance.  Imagine this.  A person, not connected to any sort of protest movement goes into Citibank to close his account.  He is asked to leave.  He is flabbergasted.  How can a bank refuse to comply with a customer's request to engage in legitimate business?  He stays, attempting to convince the bank employee that he has a right to close his account.  The police arrive and arrest him for trespassing. 

Any reasonable human being would side with the customer in a situation like this.  So how does it become different when the customer is affiliated with a protest movement?

Mr. Adam Browning
Mr. Adam Browning

This episode reminds me of that scene in "It's a wonderful life" when George Baily has his Baily Building and Loan crisis, Why the townspeople were trying to take all their funds out of Baily Building and Loan, it seems I don't recall exactly.

glenn
glenn

You sound like you want to have it both ways. You say the person is wrong to think the protesters can stay in the bank till the police arrive, but then you say that the person who was arrested outside the bank was wrong because she "fled the scene of her crime" (of "tresspass"?) before the police came.

and your logic is pretty twisted. Someone is asked to leave; they refuse to leave instantly, so they should be prevented from complying with your request to leave, so they can be arrested for trespassing?  That's insane.

but I suppose if you want to steadfastly defend the authoritarians, you can rationalize anything.

cherry
cherry

they were legally trying to close their accounts you stupid arsewipe

Ricky Pollo
Ricky Pollo

Disrupting someone's work day is not an arrestable offense. Neither is not leaving when a bank employee tells you to leave. Locking people *in* the bank, however, IS an arrestable offense.

Ron Glasscock
Ron Glasscock

It was not over 24 hours so no harm done. And it was the weekend, in most places that would mean the hearing would be on Monday. And what is the name of that law?

ashwednesday
ashwednesday

 There are many important laws being broken, both locally and constitutionally. By no means am I trying to relate this as equal to the civil rights protests, but you have the same actions going on (e.g. planting people in the crowds to incite violence and other reasons for arrest).

If any actual convictions take place, it will be a miracle, and any lawsuits will be paid by the city, not the police.

Steve
Steve

Protesting inside a bank is threatening to other customers who have valuables on them. This is what the banks should actually be doing, creating a safe location for valuables.

From the look of it, these arrests were wrong (and a terrible PR move), but so is trying to create a situation within a bank.

Dqh
Dqh

There's no inconsistency somebody refuses to comply in a timely fashion with a request to leave private property  ("timely", like "instantly" is a relative term,and  Garrett's account of event doesn't suggest that he didn't have enough time to comply with the request before the bank was secured, but rather that he had no intention of leaving before the police arrived) they have committed a crime regardless of whether they happen to be on or off the premises when they are apprehended. IF Checkbook Lady's arrest was proper (for all I know, she walked out as soon as she heard the request to leave the bank, or, less likely, no such request was made between the time she entered and left the bank), it would be because she took too long to leave the bank after being asked to do so, not because she finally did leave.None of this is a "rationalization", but a straightforward description of the law. While Citibank's handling of the situation can be debated from a PR standpoint, private institutions and public servants acting within their lawful authority don't need to be defended for being "authoritarian". You might feel differently if I camped out on your front yard and refused to leave when I asked you to. 

ClintJCL
ClintJCL

Not leaving when an employee tells you to leave is trespassing. If you want to make a point, be valid. You're not. I stand with OWS, but not idiots like you who pretend to know the law when you don't.

Djjohnnydahmer
Djjohnnydahmer

so we pay through our taxes for police to brutalise and make fools of us

ClintJCL
ClintJCL

Banks have never been a safe location for valuables?

Wow man. There's a point where, if you're losing a debate, the best thing to do is to stop responding.

But you kept it up, and now have said the stupidest thing I have read out of anybody's mouth (including republicans and police) in the past 24 hours.

Banks are bad locations for valuables?

Yea, and restaurants are bad locations for food; fire stations are bad locations for fire fighters; parks are bad locations to find trees.

Wow man... wow... your comment is such a huge FAIL i can't believe it!

Draven
Draven

you sound like you think all protestors are thieves or something? what do their valuables on them have to do with anything. The banks have never been a safe location for valuables.

Mr. Adam Browning
Mr. Adam Browning

Wow that's a unique comparison on closing there, however, I find it irritating that these customers were present during normal posted business operating hours. I'm sure that the manager on duty was feeling intimidated by the number of people in the lobby when the undercover police person was being louder than the remainder of those present, and called for the police. I doubt that they all will be charged with disturbing the peace, since it was on private property. I don't see how criminal trespass can be applied here since, like was pointed out earlier, that this mass arrest occurred to these customers during business hours, and compounded by the blocking of the exit that they were shoved toward. The only crime that I perceive has occurred here is collusion, and I guess I don't know how the law applies to people deciding to close their bank accounts en masse. However this episode reminds me of that scene in "It's a wonderful life" when George Baily has his crisis, and has to use his honeymoon money to satisfy his customers and keep their accounts. I'm going to have to watch that classic again to recall why the townspeople were trying to take all their funds out of Baily Building and Loan, it seems I don't recall why.

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