foreseeable days! foreseeable weeks!
Councilman Jumaane Williams has been a proud supporter of Occupy Wall Street since the early days of the movement last year. He proudly pins his Occupy button on his suit even for formal interviews and rather freely shouts “All day, all week! Occupy Wall Street!” when around activists. However, the Occupy movement isn’t what it once was. Notably, the crowds are far smaller while the movement’s message still remains muddled to many outside observers. We asked Mr. Williams about the state of Occupy after he hosted a press conference earlier today on voter confusion.
Law & Order
According to multiple people who have been involved with planning and executing Occupy Wall Street protests the New York City Police Department targeted key organizers for arrests in advance of Monday’s Occupy anniversary demonstrations. These arrests may have prevented the movement from, for the first time, presenting a focused, single message at the center of the protests.
By this afternoon, Zuccotti Park was deserted. Approximately 12 hours after hundreds of Occupy Wall Street protesters gathered in the birthplace of their movement to mark its first anniversary, the space was vacant apart from the regular afternoon crowd of office workers and construction crews, who sat on the stone benches eating their lunches.
Prior to yesterday’s anniversary celebration, the occupiers vowed to stage “mass civil disobedience around the Financial District in resistance to economic injustice.” Indeed, according to the NYPD, there were 185 arrests in conjunction with the protests. However, in spite of the mass detentions, the simple narrative that is rapidly becoming conventional wisdom in the wake of yesterday’s protests is that Occupy Wall Street is finished.
CHARLOTTE, NC — So far, the street protests at the Democratic National Convention seem to be much larger than anything seen at the RNC last weekin Tampa. This afternoon, streets had to be closed and checkpoints were moved when a group of protesters took to the street on Stonewall Street a couple of blocks from the site of the convention. Politicker came out to see the protests and so did Joseph Smith from Port Hueneme, California, who was wearing an “Obama” basketball jersey and said his wife was a delegate. Mr. Smith got into shouting matches with several of the protesters, many of whom were cursing the president. Mr. Smith told Politicker he thought the protesters were being “disrespectful” and he suggested the protesters, who were mostly white, were working against minorities.
“I think it’s disrespectful in general for people,” Mr. Smith. “You’re talking about Obama did this and did that. George Bush did it, Senior and Junior, but they seem to forget. … If you really want to know what it’s about, it’s black and white.”
One of the protesters bristled at this characterization and pointed the minorities in the protest group out to Mr. Smith who dismissed this by saying, “You always had Uncle Toms in slavery.”
Law & Order
New York Times freelancer Robert Stolarik was arrested and allegedly beaten by the NYPD on August 4 while taking pictures for the paper in the Bronx. Yesterday, the police department gave Mr. Stolarik back his press credential, which was taken at the time of his arrest. The National Press Photographers Association, which has had its general counsel, Mickey Osterreicher, working with Times lawyers and negotiating with the NYPD on Mr. Stolarik’s behalf announced the return of his press pass in a blog post.
“We are very appreciative that the NYPD reconsidered their position with regard to the return of Robert’s credentials but still believe it is unfortunate that they were taken in the first place and we will work very diligently to see that the charges are dismissed,” Mr. Osterreicher said.
Law & Order
With Republicans and sex workers flocking to next week’s Republican National Convention, police officers in Tampa conducted a two day undercover sting to bust strippers selling sexual favors at the city’s many adult entertainment venues. According to a press release issued by the Tampa police department, the strip club sting was launched “as a result of information that prostitutes may be coming into Tampa to work in adult establishments during the RNC.”
The Fourth Estate
According to the NYPD, New York Times photographer Robert Stolarik “violently resisted” being arrested Saturday night and “inadvertently struck” an officer after he got too close to police who were dealing with another suspect. Mr. Stolarik and Times attorney George Freeman dispute this account and claim he was kicked and beaten by the police after simply attempting to do his job. After a long winter that was filled with clashes between New York City’s press and police at Occupy Wall Street, Mr. Freeman told The Politicker this incident shows the NYPD has failed on its promise not to interfere with those who cover the news on city streets. As for, Mr. Stolarik, he just wants to get his cameras and press pass back.
Yesterday, three disabled Vietnam veterans were arrested for allegedly selling counterfeit “I ♥ NY” T-shirts. According to the Street Vendor Project at the Urban Justice Center, the vets were also detained for five hours before being charged with trademark counterfeiting in the third degree.
“I love New York, and I show my love for New York every day by selling these t-shirts,” Larry Wagner, 67 and wheelchair-bound, said in a statement. “I’ve been selling these same shirts for more than two years – I had no idea they were counterfeit.”
Congressman Jerrold Nadler was one of the politicians who attended yesterday’s protest march against the NYPD’s stop and frisk policy. He told The Politickerhe believes stop and frisk is “terribly violative of civil liberties” and, like other elected officials, he hopes the Department of Justice will investigate the policy.
However, Mr. Nadler is not optimistic about the possibility of a federal investigation because he said the DOJ didn’t respond to his call for them to investigate the NYPD’s conduct towards protesters and journalists during the raid on the Occupy Wall Street encampment in Zuccotti Park last November.
“I must say, the Justice Department has not been terribly responsive when some of us have asked for investigations for various things,” Mr. Nadler said.
Mr. Nadler went on to say one of the requests he was referring to was his push for a probe into the NYPD’s handling of the Occupy Wall Street eviction.
“We never got a satisfactory response,” he said of his call for an Occupy investigation. “I think we got a response, it was not satisfactory.”
Among the thousands who turned out to march down Fifth Avenue in protest of the NYPD’s stop and frisk policy Sunday were several prominent political opponents of the practice, which saw police stop over 685,000 people, the vast majority of whom were people of color, while collecting 780 guns. Likely candidates in next year’s mayoral election have focused on reforming some elements of the controversial policy, but many of the leaders who participated in the march explained to The Politicker that they want stop and frisk ended entirely.
“I don’t know how you can keep it and take the quotas and the profiling out of it and, therefore, I think they need an entirely new program. I don’t know how you mend something based on quotas and race,” said Reverend Al Sharpton, one of the organizers of the march.