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'Snatched and Grabbed' by the NYPD

Carl Gibson

The white-shirted NYPD officer took his empty Chipotle tray and stood up, walking over to the trash can. I stretched out my hands.

"I'll take that for you, bro," I said to him. He was caught off-guard.

"Do you work here?"

"No," I said. "Just felt like doing something nice for someone at the moment."

He shrugged, said thanks, and walked toward the door. Just before he left I called out, "Hey, are yall about to raid Zuccotti?" He didn't give me a straight answer.

Just afterward, I watched three NYPD vans scream down Broadway, throwing splashes of red and blue through the windows and into everybody's eyes.

My buddy Mark and I decided to change course and head straight to the action. As we neared commotion, chants and shouts near Trinity Church, one white-shirt got in my face as I looked around a wall of cops to see who it was that had just been knocked to the ground and handcuffed.

“Move back, or you’re next. I promise you that,” he said.

Suddenly, the crowd was on top of us, and police were violently and aggressively shoving several journalists snapping photos to the ground. I felt like I was in a mosh pit at a concert, where my body was simply being moved around by the crowd, not of my own volition.

Then, I felt two strong hands on my backpack yanking me into the chaos. I stretched out my hands.

“Mark! Grab my arms!” I shouted frantically. As I was pulled away, Mark said I looked like a victim in a horror movie, unable to be saved from his fate. (My parents, who turned out to be watching the livestream that night, let me know the exact moment of my arrest at the 1hr 36min march of this stream and in this photo.)

"Get down on the fucking ground!" an NYPD sergeant screamed at me, his left hand on the back of my head, and his right hand restraining my bicep. He flung me toward the sidewalk, and I stuck my hand out just in time to avoid hitting the concrete face-first. I felt his knee on my face as my arms were pulled tight behind my back, and felt the bite of the plastic cuffs eating into my flesh. I was then hustled to my feet and pushed into an NYPD van, which was full of 6 others, 5 of whom were journalists. Mark, who openly admits to purposefully avoiding any potential arrests like the plague, soon followed me into the van. We were whisked away to the 7th precinct, spent 3 hours in a cell before being given a court summons, the rest of our stuff, and being sent on our way. That night, the jail was 99% full of political prisoners. Mark’s cell, next to mine, was full of OWS graffiti that other political prisoners who came before us wrote into the walls.

The behavior of Bloomberg’s NYPD, who said the police force is his "own army...the seventh largest army in the world,” is unacceptable. I learned that a private citizen can be violently arrested and jailed for walking on a sidewalk, and that cops have free reign to trample basic human rights guaranteed by our founding documents. Bloomberg is the general in the 1%’s class war, determined to absolutely crush any public opposition to his banker friends’ greed and corruption, freedoms of speech, press and assembly be damned.

The NYPD learned from last year that kettling and mass-arresting 700 people on the Brooklyn Bridge only adds fuel to the populist fire of the movement. They’ve now resorted to snatch-and-grab tactics, meant to disrupt group solidarity, stir up confusion and fear, and minimize media exposure. And given that thousands of Occupiers from across the country came to New York this weekend to celebrate the movement’s 1-year anniversary, the snatch-and-grabs of the 15th, mainly targeted at journalists and originators of chants, were meant to do little else other than to attempt to intimidate the group and discourage others from marching on the 17th.

The moment any of us get too scared to march, Bloomberg and the NYPD win. The moment we allow them to silence our dissent out of fear and intimidation, our freedoms have ended. Americans must wake up and realize what’s happening to their country and resist the creeping police state, or everything our nation was founded on will be lost in the next year.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Carl Gibson

Carl Gibson is a freelance journalist, columnist, and editor primarily covering political and economic news. His investigative reporting and opinion writing has appeared in CNN, The Guardian, The Washington Post, Barron's, MarketWatch, The Independent, The Houston Chronicle, and NPR, among others.

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