At about 6 p.m. last night, Councilwoman Melissa Mark Viverito joined was arrested after sitting down in front of the Brooklyn Bridge prior to last night’s massive march with a group of 98 other people. Their act of civil disobedience was designed to support Occupy Wall Street. Councilwoman Mark Viverito told the Observer about her experience being arrested in the name of the occupation. “I was more than happy to participate in this action,” she said.
Councilman Jumaane Williams and SEIU President George Gresham were also in the group. Councilwoman Mark Viverito, who represents the 8th District in Manhattan, said she spent “about five hours” in jail and was well treated by the police who took her to Central Booking in Queens.
“They really did, you know, go out of their way to be helpful and try to have it happen as quickly as possible. I think there was discussion originally of going to One Police Plaza, but … we probably would have been there you know 16, 17 hours. So, they took us further out, that way there was less processing to do,” Councilwoman Mark Viverito said.
Councilwoman Mark Viverito described her act of civil disobedience, and the Occupy protests as a whole, as an effort to raise awareness about issues with the American political and economic systems.
“Theres an incredible discontent and a disconnect between government and its people. Government needs to respond to the immediate crisis that we have, which is an economic crisis and inequality crisis in terms of how government is structured,” Councilwoman Mark Viverito said. “That is the ongoing message and every action associated with this movement is to bring attention to that injustice.”
Some protesters have expressed concern politicians like Councilwoman Mark Viverito might co-opt the movement, which started as a leaderless grassroots phenomenon. Councilwoman Mark Viverito said she has no interest in a “leadership role” and rejected the notion she and her City Council colleagues might be using the movement for personal or political gain.
“The same way we say we should never stereotype any one group of people, we should not stereotype about all elected officials,” Councilwoman Mark Viverito said. “There are those of us in government that are not happy with government. There are those of us that are progressive, that really believe that there needs to be serious changes. There are those of us that are likeminded, that are impassioned, and that are inspired by this movement and we will join it.”