In The First Occupy Wall Street Protest Trial, Acquittal

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A photojournalist is exonerated by footage from his peers.
The NYPD has arrested protesters and journalists thousands of times since Occupy Wall Street first began in September, but the case of Alexander Arbuckle was the first of them to actually go to trial.

Arbuckle was arrested while photographing a march early on January 1. As a contingent of a few dozen protesters turned off Sixth Avenue onto 13th street, heading east, the police following the march on foot and on scooters moved in, making several arrests.

Among those arrests was Arbuckle, charged with disorderly conduct for standing in the middle of the street blocking traffic, even after police had repeatedly told protesters to get out of the street. That's the story told in the criminal complaint against Arbuckle, and it's the story that the officer who arrested him told again under oath in court on Monday. The protesters, including Arbuckle, were in the street blocking traffic, Officer Elisheba Vera testified. The police, on the sidewalk, had to move in to make arrests to allow blocked traffic to move.

But there was a problem with the police account: it bore no resemblance to photographs and videos taken that night. Arbuckle's own photographs from the evening place him squarely on the sidewalk. All the video from the NYPD's Technical Research Assistance Unit, which follows the protesters with video-cameras (in almost certain violation of a federal consent decree), showed Arbuckle on the sidewalk.

And in an indication of the way new media are transforming the dynamics of street protest, a clip from the live-stream of journalist Tim Pool showed that not only was Arbuckle on the sidewalk, so were all the other protesters. The only thing blocking traffic on 13th Street that night was the police themselves.

Here's Pool's video. The relevant section begins around minute 31:50 and ends with the arrests around minute 35:00.

Arbuckle's arrest is particularly ironic because he wasn't on 13th Street January 1 to protest -- he was there to document the cop's side of the story. (Here's his Flickr page.) A junior at New York University majoring in political science and journalism, Arbuckle doesn't identify with the Occupy movement, but was working on an assignment for class to document the officers assigned to police it.

"I felt the police had been treated unfairly on the media," he said. "All the focus was on the conflict and the worst instances of brutality and aggression, where most of the police I met down there were really professional and restrained."

"It was a total fabrication," Arbuckle said. "When I was first arraigned in February, they offered me an ACD [Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal]. It would have been nice to have everything over and done with, but it would have been an acknowledgment of guilt, and I knew I wasn't guilty."

Paul Keefe, who represented Arbuckle along with Gideon Oliver, said that the victory in the first Occupy-related protest case is an important indicator that the NYPD is over-policing the movement.

"What's happening is very similar to what happened in 2004 with the Republican National Convention," Keefe said. "It's just a symptom of how the NYPD treats dissent. But what has changed is that there is more prevalence of video. it really makes our job a lot easier to have that video."

[npinto@villagevoice.com] [@macfathom]

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20 comments
spo1
spo1

QUOTE OF THE DAY “Occupy Wall St failed because they didn’t have the ciones to storm Wall St, K-St and the FOX News building, drag it’s occupants out to the street and punish the vain, greed stricken, power mad *****’s for their crimes against humanity…”  Charlie Stunats

My favorite of the week:“…come’a California on vacation, I & I leave ona probation…” spoact

So the State of California has a debt problem… With all those people railroaded to jail/prison with all the vendors and seizure artists profiting from them. With all those police fining, penalizing, ticketing ,seizing, code enforcing among techniques of law enforcement generating income for itself, state and local government.  CA government can’t get it’s act together.

I was listening to the news describing how drug agents were burning tons of marijuana seized in CA State Parks… Ok let me get his straight State of California. ARE YOU PEOPLE NUTS? Not only do youi waste money on all the law enforcement used for this operation but then you burn one of the most valuable commodities on the planet? You stupid m‘*****ers deserve to go under.

That goes double for the Feds… If I was a DEA agent or Narc I’d be too ashamed to admit it. Did you know the first drug law was enacted in 1914, huh? With productivity like THAT in the private sector and Americans would strill be driving Model T’s, hauling ice and shoveling coal… lol!  I am somebody who hates a serious misallocation of wealth and resources consciousmc.blogspot.com  

Frankenbike
Frankenbike

Cops lying? I'm SHOCKED!

I've been rejected for jury duty several times, because I declare that absent video or other corroborating evidence, I will not accept a police officer's testimony as credible. Under any circumstances. They are motivated by wanting people they arrest to go to jail, whether the real evidence or their real observations warrant it or not. I also think the police profession attracts people who want to be bullies and have the law on their side.

Cops lie, they cover for each other, and they suppress, neglect to "collect" or even destroy exculpatory evidence. I don't know if every cop has lied, but that's because no one has ever researched it. Video after video proves that they lie, and apparently in some states the answer to that is forbidding people from videotaping cops.

I will always believe my own eyes and third party video evidence, over a cop's testimony, unless editing or image manipulation was involved.

Doran
Doran

How is it perjury charges haven't been brought against the officer who testified?

Whyawannaknow
Whyawannaknow

These bad apple cops just spoil things for the other 5%.

Phukit
Phukit

So basically, pigs being pigs.  No wonder hardly anyone respects cops these days. They are the biggest criminal gang in the country. 

Nobody Fucking Cares, OK
Nobody Fucking Cares, OK

The "Occupiers" are certainly within their Constitutional rights to stand out in public and whine about how Not Happy they are, and that's fine. But so much of this unhappiness is pretty much their own damned fault. They stupidly signed on for this mindlessness that is called pursuing the "American Dream". Like a 10 year old imbecile, they foolishly listened to the Madison Ave. Assholes whose only stock-in-trade is an ability to package non-sense, lies and convolusions into a sellable campaign of what turns out to be an American Nightmare. A banking industry insistant on your using credit cards for every purchase. Time was that paying cash portrayed you as successful; today it makes you look like a dope dealer of a terrorist. You will have & use credit cards, damn you... if you use the cards too much, you'll be penalized... if you don't use them enough, you'll be penalized. If your credit score is over 700, step into my office and we'll chat. If it's less than 675 you can get the hell up on out of here, 'cause I got nothin to tell ya. Home ownership is the pinnacle of the American Dream - sucker. Yeah, we'll call you Mr. Homeowner in spite of the 30 year mortgage that's designed for your failure. And when we foreclose on your property, we will inform you that the 12 years of payments you did actually make ALL went to the amortized interest that we attached to your contract. No more house to live in and you still owe us the entire purchase price of the property.  And don't get any bright ideas about living in your car, because guess what, we're taking that damned thing too. Knock off your belly-aching, ya little bitch, didn't the bank give you "Free Checking" ? Ron Paul can quip about abolishing the Federal Reserve all he wants to. That, of course, is impossible and Ron Paul knows it. He's just playing to the dumb-asses, like the ones who call themselves "Occupiers". Accept the reality that we are here to be programmed by Madison Ave. & Wall St. - and to get fucked up the ass by the very Capitalistic construct that Americans spend their entire lives masturbating over and enslaving themselves to, and seldom benefitting from.The Occupiers capably demonstrate that they are fundamentally moronic about the world in which they "occupy" space. A quick look through any history book adequately shows that in the absense of absolute violence... nothing will change... NOTHING !!! So go sit at the civic center with your little signs and your little whines. The Occupiers will accomplish only two things: Showing themselves as irretrievable stupid... and letting the bankers and war-whores of this nation know what a fine job they've done manipulating the American public who are so dull of wit that they will likely believe anything, do anything, sign on for anything, just because they saw an ad on TV that told them what a fine idea it would be to follow the American Dumb - I meant Dream. 

cravin_moorehead
cravin_moorehead

Please!  Someone tell me that this is "satire".  Please tell me that this person isn't actually exposing himself as a, in it's truest sense, vulture capitalist tool.  Please, someone tell me that he is gainfully employed by some PAC, and is at least getting paid by the post.

All that is left of the republican party are the very, very rich and those stupid enough to vote for them and against their own best interests.

Mr. Nobody, I fear that you aren't one of the rich ones.

Paul Hunter
Paul Hunter

 And if nobody cared there wouldnt have been a movement.

Michijo
Michijo

 I dont know what this person is referring to. I have never owned a car or a home. I was born in an apartment and I live in one now. At no time have I ever even considered mortgaging as an option. The current financial crisis is about real-estate, so if it was an engineered crisis, it is probably about the banks and big box stores et al sabotaging the economy and housing market, like they did with crack cocaine, so they could evict everyone, tear down all the old buildings, and construct some hyped up "green buildings".

Nergüi
Nergüi

 Aside from being totally nonsensical, your post also misses the entire fucking point of the article. It doesn't matter what or whom they are/were/will be protesting, it only matters that the police took advantage of opinions like yours and used them to justify arresting innocent people. All that's being asked is that protesters don't get pepper sprayed, shot with rubber bullets, run over, arrested, etc. - whether they are Tea Partiers or Occupiers is irrelevant.

Heather
Heather

There are many problems with the way the United States is currently operating.  Citizens have the right to protest, and I believe they should exercise that right when the country is not operating in a way that they think it should.

If citizens aren't active in politics, then our nation will not reflect the desires of the people.

Currently, this country is over $15 trillion in debt, and the government still won't balance the budget.   Many Americans can't find work or enough work to support themselves and their families.  Many students are told that without college they'll never get a good job, but going to college means they'll be in massive debt for at least a decade of their lives. 

The way things are, the country is not financially stable.  The budget isn't balanced for the country.  Many people can't seem to get enough work to take care of their family.  It's easier for most people to just go on welfare than find and work a job.  If you get sick or break a bone, you could be footed with a bill 10x or more of your annual salary.

Right now, as hard as most Americans work, they are one accident away from losing everything.  This is not an acceptable situation.

Things need to change, and I admire anyone who goes out and tries to make that happen by exercising their constitutional right to protest.

Why you look down your nose upon people trying to make this country a better place to live is beyond me.

bustedMonkey
bustedMonkey

 So, it seems, you agree with the occupy protesters about everything that is wrong but you blame the protesters for living in the world with the lousy rules instead of blaming the people who are making the lousy rules.

Interesting.

So if I dig a hole on a foot path and then a law is made that says you have to walk on that foot path, then you fall into the hole, it is then (by what I can make of your argument) YOUR fault that you fell in the hole because you are a stupid idiot. It's not my fault for building the hole or the lawmaker that made you walk the path, it's all your fault you moron.

Is that what you are saying? No wait, I forgot, you also want to beat up the hole, or kill the hole or something. Something violent.

Wreckrob8
Wreckrob8

I wish I had all the answers. Maybe one day I will learn to ask a good question. Unless you can define the problem better than capitalism/bankers and advertising you really have no answers, do you? I don't think it is moronic trying to define a problem before proposing solutions. That is what free speech is for. (Yes, I think it is all a load of fucking bollocks, mate. But violence is never the way out - only the way back in.)

ewephoriayarns
ewephoriayarns

 Stuff doesn't change because WE don't change.  And there are  two types of non-changers--1) the ones who like everything just as it is and don't really give a rip if people are killed, beaten and starved, just as long as Dancing With the Stars or "the GAME" is on and they are so far comfy and cozy; and2) the ones (like you) who prefer to play by the rules of the "powerful"  (might makes right) incite violence as the answer to violence, rant and rave about how everyone who thinks things can be better is an idiot,  and then quietly and cowardly slink away and blow their brains out, literally or figuratively

I personally will vote for the people who are willing to bravely refuse to play by their rules.

macewan
macewan

I love laughing at folks like you that hide their identity while posting this crap. You must be so frustrated. Someone such as yourself that looks down their nose at others should learn to spell words correctly.

Nobody Fucking Cares, OK
Nobody Fucking Cares, OK

Steve Tracy of Phoenix, AZ.Is that better, asshole.It is you who needs to learn to spell correctly.And quit your whining... foreclosure victim

macewan
macewan

I'll like your comment due to humor. Nothing in my comment is not spelled correctly. As far as debt? No credit cards, own everything including my car with only a couple of years left to pay off house. ;-p How's that strike you sparky?

gorbachev
gorbachev

Please follow up with information on the disciplinary actions taken against the police officer who filed a false police report, and lied under oath.

Please tell me the officer is no longer employed by the NYPD.

Jim Strathmeyer
Jim Strathmeyer

No, this is the type of behavior the NYPD encourages. If you speak out against it as an officer, you will be lucky to not be killed by your fellow officers and only fired because you are unfit for duty.

bloomberg
bloomberg

 HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

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