We are all effectively under arrest now.
Over a hundred people were penned in, attacked, handcuffed and arrested by riot police outside The Carlyle Group offices in Manhattan early this morning.
A certain number of protestors had blocked the entrance to the building and were arrested, as they expected, in an organized civil disobedience. But at the same time police also surrounded the legal protesters gathered on a sidewalk across the street and refused to let them leave. There was no order to disperse, and those who tried to leave were stopped. The police then began arresting people whose only "crime" was to hold a sign protesting the war on Iraq. About 50 people, most of whom have had no CD training whatsoever, were arrested and are now being held at One Police Plaza.
Carlyle had been chosen as the primary target location for protest this morning, because the organizers of the direct action, the M27 Coalition, see it as epitomizing the corrupting influence of powerful profit-seeking corporations on decision making in Washington. [For more on Carlyle, see an essay on the late, lamented Red Herring site, "Carlyle's way - Making a mint inside 'the iron triangle' of defense, government, and industry," by Dan Briody.]
At least up to the moment this item is being posted, there has been a total news blackout on the demonstration, the police drama in the streets, the unlawful arrests and continuing detainment of dozens of peaceful legal protestors. The only media record available has been posted by nyc indymedia
Proving what we all know to be true--that the NYPD is a private paramilitary security force that exists to protect the interests of capital above all else--cops this morning disrupted a legal picket against war profiteers the Carlyle Group. Protestors on both sides of the street were penned in by dozens and dozens of cops in full riot gear, given no order to disperse, and rounded up. When protestors shouted out that they had a right to be assembled there, one officer responded, "You have no rights as far as I'm concerned." We thank the NYPD for clearing up the confusion around that once and for all.
Though the protest was more or less dispersed, the cops themselves did a brilliant job of shutting down traffic and generating a general level of disruption and chaos that many a direct action aspires to. We should take some lessons from them. For example, abandoning empty cars in the middle of the street seems a particularly useful strategy. The cops also showed what can be accomplished with large numbers, as there was probably a 3 to 1 ratio of pigs to protestors.
This is an excerpt from a press release posted on the M27 Coalition site linked above:
Attorney Karen Moulding, an attorney with the group Glamericans for Peace, observed the arrests. "Pedestrians were able to get by without any impediment. Police gave no warnings to disperse. I've been a legal observer for many demonstrations for years and I've never seen anything like it. Police behavior seemed calculated to silence or deters peaceful demonstration. Police should be proud to protect the First Amendment right to demonstrate peacefully, rather than use scare tactics to pre-empt it."
One protestor, Jennifer Jaeger who witnessed the arrests of bystanders, said, "I noticed one man thrown to the ground and another bystander was cuffed so tightly that she started to cry. The police were brutal and its obvious their actions were meant to stifle protests."
There will be a demonstration
in support of those people at One Police Plaza tonight (Monday) beginning 5-6pm.