Bus Drivers Should Not Have to Transport Arrested Occupy Wall Street Protesters, Says TWU
In the aftermath of more than 700 reported arrests of protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday, Occupy Wall Street continues to occupy a large portion of the news. This video has been circulating of what seems to be a very young girl (we've heard 13 years old, though that's not confirmed) being arrested by NYPD that day. Natasha Lennard, the New York Times stringer arrested on the Bridge, has clarified some of what happened, at least from her point of view in the march. She writes,
The Internet was filled with pointed suggestions that officers from the New York Police Department led protesters onto the road as a trap to perform mass arrests; indeed, some video footage seems to show officers leading protesters onto the "illegal" section of the bridge. From what I saw, however, a couple of dozen marchers made the decision to move off the sidewalk into the road at the bridge's entrance to chants of "off the sidewalks, into the streets."
Others followed, ultimately covering the roadway. Police officers stood in a line in front of them but protesters seemed to think they'd be allowed through. They were not. Instead, they were kettled with orange nets, and arrested. "The initial arrests seemed random and aggressive," reported Lennard.
Following the arrests, people were put into police vans and city buses, as they have been throughout the protests, and taken to City precincts. Lennard writes that there was "some confusion among the police about what to do with us," and that her bus went from precinct to precinct to try to find one with space. One of her friends was on a police van and was not processed until 3 a.m. Lennard, for her part, had editors who contacted Police Headquarters and was released relatively quickly. No word on the girl in the green hat.
The Transport Workers Union, which voted unanimously to support the movement last week, is heading to court today to fight against the city making bus drivers transport arrested protesters, reports the Daily News.
The union, whose leaders voted last week to support the protesters, said police brass commandeered three MTA buses to transport many of the 700 demonstrators arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday.
Union President John Samuelsen called ordering bus drivers to drive prisoners "a blatant act of political retaliation."
TWU Spokesman Jim Gannon tells us that their attorney Arthur Schwartz will bring the matter to the New York State Supreme court today. They'll be issuing a statement shortly, he said. (We'll update when they do.)
As for the protest agenda, we hear Occupy Wall Street will be dressing like corporate zombies -- "business wear with white faces and blood" -- and eating Monopoly money as they greet Wall Street workers with a march this morning. Others have suggested that perhaps they should dress a little differently:
Guys, listen. Here's the deal.
I love you guys with every shred of my hard-left leaning heart. But I think you might be doing something wrong. Here is one thing that can help you.
Tomorrow, wear a polo and khakis
Seriously. polos and khakis. Every time you guys DO finally get some fucking press, it's a scrawny dude with dreads in a ratty t-shirt. You're going big here, dress it. Tomorrow, Polo shirt and Khakis.
Why? Because you need to get the right-leaning equivalent of me on your side. I'm 35 right now. I understand where the hippy thing comes from. I get it as well as a guy who's 35 can. My Counterparts do not. They think you are scummy druggies on welfare and when they see on tv a bunch of people who they think are S.D's on W, they root for the cops to hit you again.
Speaking of the cops, Who do you think they'll mace first? SD's on W, or a guy in khakis and a polo? Seriously, it's fucking cop camouflage. And if they DO come for you. When people at home see PEOPLE THAT LOOK LIKE THEM getting abused by police... That's when shit changes.
Zombie business wear is sort of like a polo and khakis, no?
Update: The TWU is holding a press conference today at 2:30 p.m. at 60 Centre Street to seek a restraining order in New York State Supreme Court (Manhattan) against the City of New York and the NYPD from compelling Local 100 Bus Operators from participating in the transport of arrested Wall Street protestors. TWU Spokesman Jim Gannon issued a statement, portions of which follow:
Numerous MTA buses were commandeered by NYPD brass on Oct. 1, 2011 to transport arrested Wall Street protesters. In at least one case, passengers were ejected from an MTA bus and told to wait for the next bus, and the Operator ordered downtown.
Local 100 President John Samuelsen, citing the 4th Amendment, said: "The government may only compel a citizen to assist in law enforcement when there is imminent danger. There was no imminent danger here, and therefore the Operator's 4th Amendment rights were violated. Just the opposite, the protesters this weekend appeared to be marching peacefully as is their right. Mayor Bloomberg is elevating the tension on Wall Street by these actions, when he should be calmly embracing New Yorkers' rights to free speech."
Samuelsen added that Local 100 members participate in legitimate Police and Fire Department emergencies as needed, as on 9/11. But, said Samuelsen, "this was not such an emergency, and our members' rights were violated. They are there to transport passengers, not be an arm of City Hall to squelch free speech."
Covering the March, on Foot and in Handcuffs [NYT]
TWU blasts city for putting handcuffed Occupy Wall Street protesters on buses [NYDN]
Wall Street Protesters Dress as Zombies to Greet Workers [NBC NY]