Cops Clear Occupy; Orderly Eviction, Arrests
by Thomas MacMillan | Apr 18, 2012 9:23 am
Posted to: Occupy Wall Street
(Updated) Police made 13 arrests as they evicted New England’s longest-standing anti-corporate “Occupy Wall Street” outpost—this time before payloaders moved in.
It took police about a half hour to clear the area of protesters Wednesday morning.
A police dog trained to detect hazardous materials was sniffing around the last tent shortly before 9 a.m., after the last protesters were carried away. That was to prepare the way for public works crews to start cleaning up the area, according to police spokesman Officer David Hartman.
The police dog turned up a homeless man sleeping inside a tent. He had slept through all the commotion. Police woke him up; he left the scene, confused. “He apologized for oversleeping,” said Police Chief Dean Esserman.
Then five firefighters carrying masks and wearing haz-mat suits, blue gloves, and yellow boots entered the area. They carried long probes and a Geiger counter. One firefighter recovered three small propane canisters.
Police formed a line at 9:10 a.m. and ordered remaining protesters to clear a broader swath of the Green to make room for public-works equipment. The line of cops advanced south; protesters began wandering away. The officers taped off the southwest entrance to the park; a dozen protesters moved to the sidewalk on Chapel Street, where they continued to half-heartedly heckle police. Meanwhile, around 9:30 a.m., an 18-wheeler pulled into the area, followed by two payloaders, so the clean-up could begin.
Police moved in on the upper Green spot around 8 a.m. Wednesday, as expected, acting on a court ruling that the city can now dismantle the protest encampment that has been up since mid-October.
Groups of up to six officers at a time carried each protester to a white police bus parked on College Street.
“Whose Green?” protesters chanted as they linked arms around a small tent and police began carrying them out one by one. “Our Green!”
“We are the 99 percent!”
Called out another protester: “Hitler would be proud!”
As Officer Hartman, the son of a Holocaust survivor, observed the scene, one protester called him a “Nazi.”
After they carted away the last of the passive resisters, police also arrested Josh Heltke, one of the original Occupy organizers. He didn’t participate in the civil disobedience; rather he taunted police through a bullhorn, comparing them to Nazis, as they carried people away. Afterwards, police arrested him after he walked through a closed-off area. Heltke denied any wrongdoing, saying he was just going to get some water.
Police arrested 13 people in all on disorderly conduct charges, according to Chief Esserman. They also charged some of them with interfering with police.
At 8:07 a.m., Esserman ordered reporters to leave the immediate area of the evacuation, to a press and public viewing line that was set up south of the camp, beyond a boundary established with yellow police tape.
At 8:15 a.m., officers began removing a ring of protesters sitting around a tent with their arms locked.
“Fascists!” one protester yelled.
“You’re fucking assholes! You’re pigs!” one protester shouted—a shift from the mood of the encampment for much of its six-month existence, when protesters worked closely with officers they called part of the “99 percent” of Americans their movement claimed to represent.
At 7:50 a.m., right before the expected eviction, the protesters emerged from a final strategy session in their “Russia” tent. They carried a yellow and purple Marmot two-person tent filled with helium balloons and topped with more balloons: two shaped as champagne bottles and five reading “Happy Birthday.” It immediately got stuck in a tree; the protesters grabbed a PVC pipe to try to get it down.
A dusty expanse of formerly grassy parkland (pictured) stood revealed as the camp was largely dismantled. Police had College Street blocked off to prepare for an operation to remove the remaining protesters.
Officials set up a less chaotic scene than they did last week when they began an eviction that a federal judge aborted with a last-minute stay. At that time, dozens of tents were still standing along with a fortified camp. City officials—in what now is generally acknowledged as a tactical blunder—sent both cops and public works crews and heavy equipment to the scene at once.
This time, the Occupiers largely dismantled their camp in the wake of a failed final attempt in federal appeals court Tuesday to get a stay against eviction. (Read about that here.) The central kitchen tent was gone. Pallets were stacked up there instead. Big piles of collected tarps and milk crates sat in other areas.
This time, the Occupiers acknowledged they were leaving, although some remained for a final civil-disobedience arrest. One Occupier, Don Montano, once again brought along a “donut trap” to taunt police officers.
Police Chief Esserman said public works and parks crews wouldn’t show up until after the protesters’ removal to start cleaning up and reseeding the grass.
Last week, protesters climbed on the heavy equipment as part of their protest, making the scene more chaotic and difficult to police.
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Now ONH can occupy jail (OJ anyone?), and the rest of us can get on with making positive change.
posted by: William Kurtz on April 18, 2012 9:10am
Let me guess which one of that crowd it was that decided to go out without any shred of dignity; taunting and insulting the police who (if what I have been reading here has been accurate) have consistently been respectful, patient, and accommodating.
Not that the cops deserve some kind of special award for that, of course. It’s no more than any group of citizens should expect but if you really want to see “fascist pigs” in action you could look at the experience of many of the other occupy movements around the country.
Kudos to those that left with dignity beforehand. The ones that stayed, especially the one taunting, it was less about a protest and more about masturbation. Like the previous commenter said, the NHPD has acted extremely well toward ONH (as they should). But why wouldn’t you extend the same courtesy back? If you want to get arrested as a final show of solidarity, fine. Walk to the police car instead of being carried.
posted by: streever on April 18, 2012 9:49am
I was beyond disappointed in the “cop traps” and comparisons to Hitler. I understand people get passionate and fired up, but that is no excuse to attack people who you were embracing just a few short weeks ago as “part of the 99%”.
I’m glad that many of the Occupiers maintained their decency and respect for others right to the end.
I have complex feelings about police and policing: it is a clearly broken system in many regards, but I know a lot of great people who take up the duty of being officers. They work hard, put up with a lot (including abuse), and care deeply about our community.
It is appalling to think of the disrespect they were shown in the last days of ONH, and, unfortunately, discredits the movement for many people locally.
Do we still call it the Green? Or is it the Brown now?
This went on long enough that, by the end, this became all about the last holdouts on the Green and whatever their original message was was long forgotten.
And while they are waiting to get bailed out, perhaps they could give some thought to the idea that the price of this stunt to the city was about enough to have hired a couple of teachers, which actually would be a constructive way to help some of the 99%. Money better spent than on cops and porta-potties.
I’ve witnessed this “Occupy” movement transform from a disorganized group with no agenda, to an insulting, threatening mob that is uninformed about the issues they protest. Anyone that disagrees with their methods [or lack of] is branded a 1%er. How ironic that one of the institutions they consider corrupt,i.e., the courts, is who they went to for help.
The legacy they leave after 6 months is a ruined Green, a $100,000+ bill to the taxpayers, and a woman that was raped. Let me repeat, a woman was raped. No matter what they think they accomplished, some poor homeless woman had the last shred of dignity taken from her…and they own that. This was a 6-month playtime for them, and a permanent scar for a helpless woman.
Are you proud of yourselves ONH?
I suppose it had a good sound, about Hitler being proud but it shows how little the person knows about Hitler. Hitler wouldn’t have let protesters occupy public space for six hours let alone six months. They would have been hauled away to the nearest concentration camp never to be seen again.
I too am beyond disappointed with ONH’s behavior these last few months. Fixating on being allowed to stay on the Green while Occupy Wall St in New York and elsewhere focused on actions to protest or to interfere with the 1%‘s activities especially bank foreclosures. Occupying foreclosed homes so as to allow the owners to stay in their homes, staging sing-a-thon disruptions of foreclosure auctions. Too many to list here, just go to http://www.occupywallst,org for all the latest details (this I would advise ONH to do if they are really “in solidarity with” OWS).
I beg to differ. The message is loud and clear to all who want to hear it. To sum it up:
Unprecedented corporate control over our democratic institutions, leading to the greatest income disparity since before the Great Depression.
We are already seeing it in the current electoral season as big money, thanks to the Citizens United decision, is making a travesty of our electoral process. It will get even worse in the buildup to November.
Some of us do get it. The message is not going away with the encampment.
I would agree with some of the other comments regarding police conduct (excellent) and that some of the protesters were a little excessive in their rhetoric. But the folks who did the CD were exemplary.
Josh Heltke should go back to the secret location and remain there indefinitely. His tactics in the past weeks have been absolutely disgraceful. The New Haven progressive community has a big tent, but not enough room for clowns who act like he has.
I look forward to working with some of the activists from Occupy New Haven on progressive action in this city, now that the distraction on the green is over. We have been making change happen all along. Come join us, but leave the unnecessary theater, the self-importance, and the terrible language at the door.
When you read the comments here and else were over the past months, the people of New Haven as a whole agree with Occupy Wall Street. We agree with many of the protests they have staged. We agree with the movement. I think city hall even extended the ok in the beginning. Like all movements. this evolved into something different than the “IDEA”. Many who are true activist fizzled out, others fell into complacency, think the encampment was the protest. This cost the 99% 150,000 and I think if this was a productive and active group it would not have stung as much as it does. Instead this encampment turned the people of new haven off. Many not wanting to even mention Occupy because they did not want to be labled as being part on the new haven group.
Now they are finally gone and the real leaders will rise up though the ashes and get our citys occupy going.
oh and PS
The only “idea” believed by these embarrassing fools is the idea that they can live wherever they want for free. Well, not for free, but at someone else’s expense.
i’m curious as to what allan brison objects to in the citizen’s united ruling? the ruling allows increased political speech and demands increased transparency, the benefits of which can be read about here…
i’m also interested to know what measure has deemed the election process a travesty. what amount of money is the right amount to run a campaign, and what business is it of anyone what someone spends to get their message out? buying speech does not buy votes, the same way buying ad space won’t convince some to shop at walmart or purchase a car.
as far as income inequality goes, i have yet to hear rhetoric from the occupy movement that has included income mobility, the opportunity to move from a lower strata of income to a higher one.
this study reinforces that the top percent and lower percent are always in flux, meaning that contrary to the popular rhetoric repeated by brison above, millions of people are moving between income brackets, not remaining poor or remaining rich. the welfare of the poor demands more rigorous inquiry into economic issues, not platitudes and rhetoric.
Jay is correct about the need for much better rhetoric - but should note that inequality and mobility, while separate concerns to some degree, may be related, and also that while most of our income groups may have mobility in line with the levels of mobility found in other wealthy nations, our very poor and particularly poor African Americans do not, which makes our country as a whole look significantly worse than other nations. This issue is hurting our economy immensely because so much of our future workforce comes from the lower income bracket and lower mobility (socially excluded) groups. Also, our taxes have become incredibly regressive over the past decades (with low income families paying far more in local-Fed taxes than the wealthy) while other nation’s systems have improved, which may be impacting inequality and mobility or at least perceived opportunity. The nation is sliding downhill very quickly and improving opportunity is the only way to reverse that decline.
posted by: nocheez on April 25, 2012 2:26pm
@jayfairhaven - corporations are not people and should not be afforded the rights of free speech. They are an institution that has rights beyond humans because there is no body to be held accountable, only fined. If you were aware of the many case studies you’d see how much of a problem it is. It gives a small board the power to usurp the majority of the populations vote by buying out politicians. It’s a ridiculous way to design an institution for humans to work within. Liberty has responsibility, and it cannot usurp others liberty as this does in a massive way.
posted by: nocheez on April 25, 2012 2:32pm
@jayfairhaven - The study is absurd. The fact is the real wage (buying power) for Americans peaked in 1973. It has gone down ever since yet profits have skyrocketed. Meaning a disproportionate amount of wealth is going to a tiny minority. Alan was speaking the truth. Our upward mobility has declined severely and is nowhere near the top in the western world. Let’s look at it this way, when the real wage was closer to the profit margin it was still not fair enough. We needed more freedom in the work place, not less, which is where we are heading. People need to wake up and understand you can’t have a fair society without democracy in the work place. Labor should control the means of production.
nocheez, thanks for the response.
corporations are made up of people, be them churches, newspapers, non-profits, or assumed baddies like walmart. limited liability protection should not require prohibitions on free speech, which is what the court ruled. the same way bankruptcy protection sought by individuals doesn’t require diminished free speech rights.
if you truly desire freedom, then you can’t advocate the muffling of groups you disagree with. the constitution guarantees free speech and freedom of association. speech and expression cannot be illegal, no matter the source. once that becomes the norm, then invariably someone is going to seek to muffle you.
as far as income disparity and mobility goes, i’m sorry the treasury dept’s study wasn’t up to your standards. the only way to win you over, i’m assuming, is to allow you to be the arbiter of what is fair and give you the power to transfer wealth as you see fit. i haven’t heard anyone pine for the halcyon 70’s recently, but i’m sure you and your comrades would know what’s best for everyone.
one more thing.
this occupy thing completely missed the mark. you want to talk about greed and corruption? well let’s start with greed. no one can make a cent being greedy without a providing a good or service that someone is willing to pay for. proclaiming that greedy capitalists end up with ill-gotten gains is like saying penthouse subscribers all end up getting laid. there are plenty of greedy people - some are filthy rich, most are dead broke.
if this movement was about the intersection of greed and corruption- crony capitalism, corporatism, or whatever term you’d assign it, i’d have marched anywhere you were meeting up. instead it became a deluded echo chamber about what is fair… it’s not fair some people have more than others. it’s not fair that some people fail. fair is an open economy where success is rewarded and failure means creative destruction, where failed inputs are rerouted to more productive enterprises. fair is not the government shielding the politically connected, or whatever class they currently favor, from risk with tax revenue. if the occupy movement wants to occupy political offices with people who could keep their hands out of the till and let free people make free choices with their body, time and income, then sign me up.