Jan 2012 17

By David Seaman

Judge Napolitano on FOX Business Network has a great on-air rhetorical device, “What if?”

I’m going to blatantly steal — er, borrow — that device for this column because it does a brilliant job of covering one’s ass completely, while still pointing out obvious truths. Here goes, take a deep breath.

WHAT IF your government has lost all legitimacy to lead?

WHAT IF the media, once the American people’s last safeguard against corruption, is now corruption personified?

WHAT IF there was a protest of thousands of people converging on Capitol Hill tonight, January 17th, 2012, and the corporate broadcast media barely even mentioned it as of 1:12pm Eastern, save for a below-the-fold hat tip on

WHAT IF there is a quiet battle brewing right now between dying TV broadcasting dinosaurs, and vibrant Internet companies like Google, Facebook, and Reddit?

WHAT IF that battle finally becomes public knowledge tomorrow morning, when the homepage of will display a message blasting the SOPA/PIPA Internet censorship legislation that Congress seems absolutely hell-bent on passing in one way or another, regardless of how many phone calls they receive from outraged constituents.

WHAT IF there was a separate battle, waged online and via telephone by tens of thousands of Americans…a battle we’ve already lost?

WHAT IF that battle was a desperate cry against the NDAA’s indefinite detention provisions, which President Obama quietly signed into law on New Year’s Eve, while the rest of us were drunk and distracted?

WHAT IF, as a result, your own government — according to some of the planet’s foremost legal minds — now has the very real ability to detain you without trial, access to an attorney, and without bringing formal charges against you.

WHAT IF suspicion alone is enough.

AND WHAT IF some government insiders, such as Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, have gone on record stating they believe this indefinite detention power will be used to silence political protesters, including Occupiers.

Makes today’s Occupy Congress seem rather important given all of that context, no? So where’s the media attention?


Image courtesy of Dustin M. Slaughter

View #Occupy Congress live via Livestreams from citizen journalists @TimCast, @OccupyFreedomLA, @Punkboyinsf, and @OakFoSho

David Seaman is an independent journalist. He has been a lively guest on CNN Headline News, FOX News, ABC News Digital, among others, and on his humble YouTube channel, DavidSeamanOnline. Some say he was recently censored by a certain large media corporation for posting a little too much truth… For more, find him on G+ and Twitter.

Jan 2012 11

By 99Percent

It was a casual Sunday and I found myself walking through the local video game store. I’m always on the lookout for games that are influenced by real-world events, geopolitics or other revolutionary ideas as presented in digital form. While I’m still waiting for the ultimate game that portrays presidential elections, an upcoming release by a major global gaming studio has caught my eye and for possibly the wrong reasons.

Ubisoft is updating Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six series with a new sequel in 2013. Only this time, the baddies aren’t mysterious investment bank-type Arabs pointing Kalashnikovs. After seemingly an entire generation of blowing up Muslims, we’re finally getting a reprieve from the barrage of first-person-shooters that portray all of the Middle East as though it were one big underground weapons market.

So who (or what) has become the latest enemy of the state to be deemed a necessary kill for Clancy disciples in the video game world?

It just might be the 99 Percent.

You knew this would happen sooner or later. According to early press reports and box art, the enemy of America now comes from within. Rainbow Six: Patriots is a squad-based game that paints those who fight for economic inequality as a terrorist threat.

Early simulated clips that may or may not make the final release are indeed astounding. The opening scene of the first working imagery officially released portrays a home invasion – complete with the physical assault of the mother of a newborn baby – as undertaken by a band of anti-corporate zealots. Here’s a snippet of dialogue from a YouTube preview as released by Ubisoft…

“You really did cash in on everyone else getting foreclosed didn’t you? Today, you’re going to make up for that…”

Wow. I guess we’ve all been waiting for a blockbuster shooter that paints the 1 percent as victims. Thanks Tom Clancy. If violence again rears it’s ugly head at future protests, I guess we’ll know who is throwing fuel on the fire.

For those that don’t feel like watching the preview footage, what unfolds then is an exercise in violence gone amok as an apparently American-born, kevlar-vest wearing terrorist known within the game as a “True Patriot” proceeds to strap an explosive device on a docile target. It all ends in more violence as the well-armed hero Rainbow Six team can’t seem to solve the bomb problem, so they throw the target off a bridge in New York City which may or may not be the George Washington.

Given that some consider video games like these to be military trainers, many of the people whose voices gave birth to the Occupy movement are likely to be revolted and disgusted that some of their protest messages may now be fodder for what could turn out to be a very violent and very scary simulation.

Worse, does this game further encourage the militarization of domestic policing with respect to the portrayal of anti-establishment protesters?

The “True Patriot” moniker given the American terrorists in this game seems like a mix of Tea Party and Occupy movements. Granted, the game is in very early in development, but this ripped-from-the-headlines approach should upset some of the 99 Percent who hold nonviolent civil disobedience to be one of the founding principles that helped shine a spotlight on a progressive voice of unity.

If the new terror threat is indeed an underclass emboldened by cries of “this is what democracy looks like,” we’re all going to be in a lot more trouble than we think. By the end of many of the Occupy encampments, some of the public opinion voiced against those protesting was clearly being molded by a media that sought to vilify the Occupy movement as a stinking underbelly that needed to be held under the boot of a police state.

If the next step is really to turn weapons – even the digital kind – upon this group, a new front has been opened up in an entertainment propaganda / information war that civic, cloud-based journalism may find impossible to counter.

Seems the 1 percent has quite a few tricks up their golden-cufflinked sleeves.

Dec 2011 27

By Justin Beckner

The dawn of another brutal election year is upon us and the majority of the country has developed a feeling of distain for politics all together. Still, masses of protesters have flocked to the streets to speak out against corporate greed and corrupt government practices. Never has there been a better time for a band like Anti-Flag to make new record and gear up for another world tour.

Anti-Flag frontman, Justin Sane has relentlessly spoken out against injustice since he and his friends formed the band back in 1988. Sane has long been hailed as one of the most intelligent songwriters of our generation. While musically, Anti-Flag is a direct descendent of classic punk rock bands, lyrically they ring reminiscent of a Woody Guthrie or Billy Bragg. Anti-Flag had a few minor hits with songs like “Protest Song” and “Turncoat” which could be heard being played at almost any protest demonstration during the Bush Administration. It is rather common to find Anti-Flag playing shows at protests. They recently played at an Occupy Wall Street Demonstration. Sane draws a lot of his songwriting topics from his experiences playing at and marching in these kinds of events.

Aside from his rigorous touring schedule with Anti-Flag, Sane has also put out three solo records (one full length and two EPs) and is in the process of putting together another album. In these solo records, he has found a freedom to pursue different musical directions – often this means falling back into acoustic music and dabbling in different genres. The light-hearted solo albums are a glimpse at the other side of the charismatic frontman.

In the following interview, Sane and I discuss the roots of his love of music and activism, the causes and effects of the Occupy Wall Street Protests, and the new Anti-Flag album due out this spring.

Justin Beckner: It seems to me that there are a lot of ideological similarities between traditional Irish music and punk rock music. You came from an Irish household, is that where your passion for music and social justice came from?

Justin Sane: Yeah, it really did. My dad is from Ireland and both of my mother’s parents are from Ireland so I am 110% Irish. My parents were both really involved in activism as a result of their Catholic upbringing. In Catholicism, there’s something called “Liberation Theology” and that’s the kind of theology that Jesus preached – that you should help out in your community and work with the poor and stand up for people who can’t stand up for themselves or give a voice to those who don’t have a voice in the world. With the British occupation of Ireland for hundreds and hundreds of years, there’s always been that drive in the Irish people to work for their own liberation. I think that the idea of fighting for people who are oppressed was carried along with those who left Ireland. Those ideas have been well documented in Irish folk music which is something I grew up listening to and playing. My parents had nine kids because Catholics don’t use birth control. I was the youngest of the nine and we all played instruments. It was like our own version of The Pogues or Flogging Molly within our own family. I’m not Catholic myself, I’m not really religious, but I think that I was influenced by that Liberation Theology that my parents were so profoundly influenced by. They fought for civil rights and fought to make the environment clean for their kids.

JB: Were there any non-political bands that you were influenced by on a more technical level?

JS: Yeah, I mean I’ve always loved KISS. I thought they were really cool. I’m sure there were others – I listened to Jackson Browne a lot. I listened to much of the same music my older brothers and sisters listened to and a lot of it wasn’t political. The Beatles were a band that was unanimously liked by everyone in my family and they had their political songs and their non-political songs. So there was a lot of non-political music that I drew influence from.

JB: You’ve spent a fair amount of time at the Occupy Wall Street Protests. Do you think the message that is being sent by the protesters is getting through to those who need to hear it?

JS: I think it’s definitely getting through because the protesters are being addressed quite often with brutal physical force by a police force that has traditionally been used to work for the elite. I think what we have now is a police force that is propping up a corporatocracy. Let’s look at it from this perspective – if there were protests in North Korea where protesters were trying to make a statement by occupying a square in North Korea and the police came in a brutally beat people up and pepper sprayed them and hit them with non-lethal weapons, the State Department here in the US would be on Fox news decrying the authoritarian rulers of North Korea. But we have that exact same thing happening right here in a democracy where we supposedly have the right to free speech. We have peaceful protesters making a peaceful statement and they’re being beat down by police. I think that says something about the state of our nation and it says something about the concern that those in power have about a message like that being freely spoken. If they didn’t think that message was dangerous, they wouldn’t be sending the police out there to shut those people up. There’s a very clear and directed initiative to suppress that speech and I think that’s really tragic. I’m really proud of the people who are out there making that statement because it obviously needs to be made. People are waking up and realizing that the rich in this country have been taking advantage of the poor for a very long time. So, they’re waking up and making the statement that things in this country are very out of balance – in that respect I think it’s very important that statement be made.

JB: That sense of injustice and imbalance has certainly been getting much harder for people to ignore in recent years. The top 1% of Americans control 42% of the country’s wealth and assets. That’s a pretty staggering figure.

JS: Yeah it is and I think in America there’s a sense of fairness – that everybody has an opportunity to get ahead and that’s based on an assumption that there’s a level playing field that we all start out on. Now people are looking around and seeing that there isn’t a level playing field, things are vastly out of balance, and people with a lot of money are actually breaking the law in many cases and doing things that should be illegal to make more money – all this while the rest of us are just trying to scrape by. I think Americans are pretty fair minded – most people are just saying that they want a level playing field and that’s why we see a lot of protests popping up recently.

JB: Over the past couple weeks I’ve noticed major news networks belittling the protesters on Wall Street. How do you feel when you hear people say that the Occupy Protesters don’t know what they want?

JS: I think a lot of people have a hard time verbalizing it, but in their gut they know there’s something out of whack. That’s where I think the media does a really great disservice by putting out things like, “There’s these occupiers out there but they don’t know what they want.” Because the reality is that if you spent five minutes at any of the Occupy events and walked around and talked to some of the protesters, you’d very quickly find out that there are incredibly articulate people who can tell you exactly what they think the problem is, what should change, and they’d give you statistics to back it up. They’d tell you that the corporations have bought and paid for our politicians to the point that they don’t represent us anymore, they represent corporations, and we want corporate money out of politics so we can have our politicians back. Those are the messages that we don’t see on Fox or CNN. When I go to Occupy Wall Street, as I have a number of times in several different cities, I talk to people who are really articulate, and then I turn on the news and they’re interviewing some guy who can hardly talk and doesn’t seem to know why he’s there. It makes me wonder why the hell aren’t they running interviews with the people I talked to when I was there. But those people at the top of the food chain at Fox news and places like that don’t want a clear message coming out of there. They’re doing their best to make people look stupid but the amount of knowledgeable people down at these protests is unbelievable. I just wonder why we’re not hearing those voices on the news.

JB: With the dawn of another election year upon us I’ve got to ask, how do you think these protests are going to influence the elections in 2012?

JS: One thing that was really clever about the way the Occupy movement was structured was that there is no figurehead leading the movement. That’s a good thing because leaders can be coopted, they can be bought, they can be bribed, they can be stroked in different ways. The Occupy movement is a true democratic process and a true movement of the people. I think that politicians today are just too corrupt to bring this country back to some degree or normalcy. However they will do what they need to do to get reelected and in that sense the Occupy movement is a message of what the people want. It’s not a message of what the corporations want. Ultimately politicians have to bow to the will of the people, and little by little, as a result of the Occupy movement, we see that happening. So it’s a step in the right direction. I think that what the Occupy movement is going to do is change things on a broad scale and politicians in turn will be pulled in and forced to think about what the people want if they want to get elected.

It’s going to take time and it’s going to happen as a result of attitudes and ideas changing. One of those ideas that has to change is that we can have corporate money in politics – we just can’t. There are huge payoffs for these politicians. Say I get elected to the senate and I vote with a chemical company in my area even though I know it’s really bad for my constituents. I know that even if I get voted out of office the next term, I’ll still have a cushy job at that chemical company where I can use the friends I made in Washington to benefit my company. This is what happens over and over again. Our former senator or Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum, who is running for president right now, is a poster child for this type of thing. Dick Cheney is another stellar example – he was with Halliburton, then in the Senate, went back to Halliburton, and then was vice president. That is how these corporations use their influence – what we have right now is not a democracy, it’s a corporatocracy and it needs to change. The Occupy movement gives me a lot of hope. I think people went to the ballot box expecting change from Barack Obama and they didn’t get it. They’re realizing that change isn’t going to come from the ballot box and they’re going to find a new way to move the country in a different direction – it’s really exciting and I feel optimistic for the first time in twelve years!

JB: Switching gears back to music, I’ve been told the new Anti-Flag album is in the mixing process right now. Do you have a title or a release date?

JS: Yeah we’re tentatively titling it The General Strike. A general strike is generally where a city or a country is shut down to make a point that progress will not move forward without the people’s labor. The UK had a massive general strike which wasn’t even mentioned in this country’s news. They shut the entire country down. The idea behind calling the new album The General Strike is that it’s a worldwide general strike and Anti-Flag is a band that is talking about unity between all people. I think there really is a group of people who have unified in this world around the idea of equality for all people – and that’s the concept that the title came from.

JB: A lot has happened in the world since your last album; is there any certain subject matter that you focused on with the writing of the new record?

JS: After going to a number of Occupy Wall Street Demonstrations and witnessing the recurring theme of police oppression and the masses of cops working as a tools for what I refer to as the corporate state, that was certainly on my mind when I was writing for the new album. Because I’ll tell you what, when you’ve had a billy club shoved in your face or been pepper sprayed or witnessed innocent people being beat down for absolutely no reason – the videos are on The Daily Show so you don’t have to look very hard to see it – it makes you angry. Especially when it happens to an old lady or people you know, and when you see this happening day after day to peaceful people who are just expressing their democratic right to free speech. So writing about police oppression was something that happened on this record as a result of that. I’ve been having a really hard time looking at police and feeling good about them. It’s really unfortunate because I have police officers in my family and when police do their job and serve their community and protect people, it’s really nice to see them. But we keep seeing over and over again police acting outside what their role is. It’s really enraging and it’s something I’ve been putting pen to paper about because that’s my way of dealing with it.

We’ve also been writing about the exciting events that have been happening around the world like the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, the ousting of Moammar Gaddafi, and the changes happening in Saudi Arabia. And then we’ve got a song about skateboarding (laughs). There’s a general theme that the songs are about what’s going on in the world, but we like to have some fun too. It should be out sometime in the spring of 2012.

JB: There will be a tour ensuing the release of that album I’d imagine?

JS: Yeah, we’re looking at starting in Australia and then playing Indonesia for the first time which we’re pretty excited about. Then we’ll definitely be doing our dates in the states and the Europe. After that we’ll see what happens, were always looking forward to meeting new people, seeing new places, and experiencing new things.

JB: I also understand you’ve been writing some songs for a solo record. What do you get out of writing songs for a solo album that you don’t get from writing Anti-Flag songs?

JS: We had an idea when we started Anti-Flag that we wanted it to be a political punk rock band and when people started to follow the band that was the impression they got as well. When we stray from that formula people don’t accept it very well, some react pretty viscerally to it. On the record Bright Lights of America, which we released a few years back, we really tried to expand and go in some different directions and people either liked that about it or they hated it. [Instead of] trying to force people [to hear[ something that they don’t want from Anti-Flag, I write solo albums. With my solo albums, if I want to write about my cat or my girlfriend I can do that. With Anti-Flag I don’t feel free to write songs like that. Another thing is the ability to write different types of music. In my family we listened to so much music and it was so diverse that it almost makes more sense to come across me playing an acoustic guitar in an Irish pub than playing electric guitar in a punk rock band.

The solo albums give me a chance to do something else and that freedom is really exciting. It’s an opportunity for people to know the personal side of me. Sometimes in Anti-Flag people get to thinking that we’re just these serious political robots all the time – it’s kind of funny. Anyways, I’m hoping to get a solo album together in 2012.

Dec 2011 23

by Zach Roberts

My wrist hurts.

Really more that it possibly should. This is not good. I’m a writer, a photographer, I like to shake people’s hands. I need my wrist functioning.

And I’m not even arrested yet.

It’s 12 o’ clock and there’s maybe 100 people here…and that’s including the press. #D17 is not looking to be all it was cracked up to be, like an ‘N Sync reunion when Justin doesn’t show up. (It was intended to be a celebration of the 3 month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement and its encampment at Zuccotti Park, and was supposed to be marked by a reoccupation in New York at the nearby Duarte Square, a vacant plot of land owned by Trinity Wall Street, a parish of the Episcopal Diocese of NYC.)

It’s freezing, well, maybe not that bad, but I’m underdressed for the occasion, wearing a light jacket and no gloves or a hat. An hour and a half into standing around at Duarte Park in Lower Manhattan – I thought I’d be running after occupiers and dodging kettling nets.

I get the standard shots – the wide above the head shot (for crowd count), the protesters children (cute sells!), the old school occupiers (who knows AARP might run a piece on #OWS), the funny signs (always good for internet reach), and then the pretty portraits (30mm f1.4 Sigma, wide open, manual focus – shallow depth of field).

Ok. So now it’s 1:30 PM. Our sources inside the OWS movement tell us that since the organizers were pre-arrested** – one of which is some guy named Zach – they’re not sure anything is actually going down during the day, maybe not until 7 PM.


CS (still photog), Andrew (still photog), Brian (still photog), Rosie (Village Voice writer) and I (SuicideGirls photog) huddle in a group, trying to decide what to do. I hate to admit it, I’m the first one to say fuck it, let’s go home – warm up and recharge for the night.

Brian, a shooter says he’s staying, has to and recommends that we all stay. Even if he didn’t have to, we all know he would anyway. He’s done Egypt and Greece already, so we kind of look to him for guidance. He’s known within his agency to be the one that will go for days without sleep just to get the shot. During the cleansing of Zuccotti he went for about 2 days without sleep, going from assignment to assignment carrying other people’s shifts. Our motley crew decide to take Brian’s advice and stick around until 3:30, and if nothing happens run home and file.

3:30 PM EST.

CS and I are chatting, talking about brunch, warm coffee, French toast…suddenly Brian runs by – we immediately follow blindly.

The crowd suddenly starts to move. Where? We haven’t a f’n clue – but like the lemmings that photojournalists are – we follow (well, actually we run to the front of the crowd and walk briskly backwards while taking photos).

Immediately I get that something else is going on. The crowd isn’t going anywhere in particular and the turns it’s taking seem to be just to throw off the police that are on scooters.

And then I go around a corner to get a wide shot of the march and almost run straight into a man in purple robes. Oh, it’s a diversion. Bishops only move diagonally though. Where’s the rook?

I quietly say to myself, “I see what you did there.” Realizing that something is afoot with all these religious figures randomly hanging out watching a protest go by, I stay back for a moment allowing the protest to go by.

Like a ADD kid that hasn’t had his Ritalin, I very quickly get impatient and see a scuffle with a cop and a protester, I take one last look at the Holy figures I’m standing next to and run off chasing the pretty pictures.

Did I say fuck before? Because you see this time I really mean it. Like a crap Chess player going up against Bobby Fischer, I immediately lose the Bishop. Chasing after pretty pictures, ones I have hard drives filled with – I lose what will very quickly become the whole point of this charade.

Fuck it, I follow the protestors back toward Duarte Square, I know I screwed up, but maybe I didn’t waste the whole day.

Slowly we turn the corner to Grand Street and to my surprise (and quiet anger) I see several hundred protestors already there – some setting up a step ladder up against the fence that surrounds the other half of Duarte Square. A purple flash of cloth begins to ascend the wooden ladder that the protestors have propped against the fence, as if playing out some medieval storming of the castle. Except the castle is a park and the battlements are a standard wire fence.

The Bishop doesn’t wait for the other half of the stepladder – like a boss he runs to the top and then lets himself down the other side slowly. People quickly follow behind him, nearly falling on top of him. I’m stuck in the crowd about 20 feet away from the ladder – I look to the fence and judge correctly that there’s no way in hell I can scale it myself and then push toward the ladder – a path opens up and suddenly as I tell OWS organizers that I’m going over they’re all smiles and hands helping me and my gear over. Climbing over and taking blind shots from the top, I suddenly realize what a bad idea this is – fuck it, I’m over and now officially in “criminal trespass” territory.

About 75 people are over – including CS and about 5 other journo’s that I can point out as pro’s. The occupiers start pulling at the fence bringing it upward so that the rest of the crowd can rush in – there are very few takers. This very clearly worries the people on my side of the fence – and worries me – any moment now the police will be here and numbers are the only thing protecting us from batons, plastic cuffs and a night in the clink. I give up on waiting for the shot of the protestors going all Steve McQueen under the fence and start grabbing every possible angle of the scene I can think of. Through the fence, the wide shot, the closeup…Then suddenly there’s a very large officer from the NYPD in my face yelling “GET THE FUCK OUT NOW!”


CS flies by me yelling at me “TIME TO GO, NOW!” For once he’s being the careful one.

I begin to comply and start moving towards the stepladder, the only “exit” I know of from this fenced in park. I, of course, continue taking shots though moving towards my non-arrest, then I make it to the place where the stepladder used to be.

Oh, shit!

It’s not there.

Well, to be exact it’s on its side.

Again, oh shit!

Also, on the other side of the fence, where just moments before the protestors and other journos were pushing forward, now the police are pushing them back. I looked around and couldn’t place CS, Brian or any of the rest of my crew. I also noted, with growing dread, that I was the only person that wasn’t a member of the New York Police Department who wasn’t handcuffed face down in the gravel.



“I’m press! I’m a freelance photojournalist.”


By this, he doesn’t mean from my agency or from my paper, he means the official New York City Press Credentials issued by the New York City Police Department.

Yes, the NYPD, the boys in blue that are currently in the process of arresting me are the ones that decide whether I am a recognized member of the media. They will not of course take in account my years of work for The Guardian, the dozen or so pieces I’ve produced for BBC TV, or any number of other works of journalism that I have done.

I don’t have NYC NYPD Press credentials.


So, I sat the fuck down. The officers went on to deal with other people – so, I continued to take photos, from my seated position. Once I had taken everything I could from this angle I called my boss (day job) Greg Palast.

Me: “Greg, I think I’m arrested, they told me to sit down, but they haven’t cuffed me yet. I won’t be making it into work later today.”

Greg: [Chuckles] “Ok Zach, we’ll get the word out Keep me updated.?

[Above: Photo of Zach by CS Muncy]

Realizing that this whole arrest and day would be for naught if something happened to my memory cards – I (slyly as I could) removed the card from my camera and shoved it in my wrist brace.

Blanking on anything else that could be done I just sat there for a moment somewhat dazed as an old Phil Och’s song starts to run through my head…

There’s nothing as cold as the freeze in your soul
At the moment when you are arrested.
There’s nothing as real as the iron and steel
On the handcuffs when you protested.

The zip cuffs weren’t that cold, and certainly weren’t made of out steel, just heavy duty plastic that would need to be cut using utility shears. The officer that put on my cuffs was nice enough to ask about my wrist brace and put them somewhat loosely around that wrist, but made up for it on the other. I got off easy. The kid sitting next to me didn’t; very quickly his cuffs started cutting off the circulation to his hands and the cold didn’t help much either. After being helped up from the ground by the police he begged for his hat and sunglasses that had been knocked off in his takedown by the officer. Sunglasses and snowcap pulled over his head he looked like a reject from a Cheech and Chong audition. His banner and prop mannequin arm was to be left behind (I didn’t ask).

Lining us up by the exit of the park, we were taken off in threes to our respective wagons. I was with Cheech and a bearded protestor from Canada who had a sad looking guitar case – he later confided with me that it wasn’t a guitar, but an axe (again, I didn’t ask).

It was now our turn to make the perp walk from the gated confines of the park to the paddy wagon.

Surrounded by about 40 police officers holding back protestors and photographers on both sides of us, we quickly walked to the awaiting wagon. I heard my name being yelled from both sides, on one Brian and on the other CS. Trying to give them both good shots I turned to one held a look for the moment and then to the other doing the same. I tried to look serious, but not angry – honestly I was just dazed and somewhat confused – still convinced at some point the police would wise up and release me, allowing me to get back to my job as a photographer.

That didn’t happen of course.

Have I ever told you the one where the Bishop, the pastor and the photographer get into a paddy wagon together?

Yeah, I think not.

Bishop Packard is a tall man, dressed in purple robes he commands attention just by his presence. Sitting aside him is a pastor, across him, luckily enough,is someone who worked out of her cuffs. Which is why we have this video. In it the Bishop breaks down why the Occupiers decided to take Duarte Square.

Even churches have a 1% and a 99%. The good Bishop is in the 99% – Trinity Church…well, I think you got it.

The ride to One Police Plaza is a long one and seemingly the bumpiest ride in all of Manhattan. But we’ve got the time – based on John Knefel’s reporting we have a long night ahead of us. The only problem is with each bump all of our cuffs get tighter and tighter. Cheech sitting next to me is in excruciating pain – the Bishop tries to see what we can do, but none of us can reach his cuffs to try to help.

When we finally make it to “The Yard,” as the police call it, it takes them another 40 mins to process us and remove the cuffs. Paul Bunyan, the guy with the axe and beard, seems to have it the worst – the officers can’t find a place to get the scissors between the cuffs and his skin.

Moving from the yard, finally inside I realize that they never took my cell phone – so I quickly tweet out a couple of photos before they notice.

Inside the cell I noticed that I’m one of the first in my wagon to be processed – though there is a priest, a minister of some kind, and about 12 other occupiers.

I decide to make an entrance by announcing loudly, “My goodness is that a Priest on the Group W bench!?!?!” (doing my best Arlo Guthrie voice). Everyone over 30 in the holding cell starts laughing. Then one of the younger priests starts…

And I, I walked over to the, to the bench there, and there is, Group W’s where they put you if you may not be moral enough to join the army after committing your special crime, and there was all kinds of mean nasty ugly looking people on the bench there.

Then with gusto – anyone who got the original joke starts singing…

You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant,
You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant,
Walk right in it’s around the back,
Just a half a mile from the railroad track,
You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant.

I think Arlo would be proud. We went on to have a good old time swapping war stories. The Bishop joined us 20 mins later and we all cheered. About a dozen other guys followed over the next couple of hours as we learned about the night’s continued actions. We held stack, talked about the future of the movement – I held a small working group trying to explain how to get better media coverage, and prep people for questions and so on.

I wouldn’t say the time flew by, but it moved. My arresting officer processed me out in about 8 hours – no iris scan – just fingerprints. I was lucky – some of the protestors coming in had some battle wounds. One 19-year old kid had a shiner from what he said was getting punched in the face by a cop. Another, a main OWS organizer of #D17, was talking to us, reporting on the night’s activities and blood started streaming from under his winter hat. He calmly patted it with toilet paper and continued his report.

It’s surreal – 11 years I’ve been doing this shit. Years of anti-war protests, hanging with black bloc, shooting in Wasilla, Bed Stuy, and the reservations of the Southwest – and jumping over a ladder is the thing that gets me busted.

As I stepped out into the cold, a free man, the dry cheese sandwiches that they gave us to eat still festering in my stomach – I thought back to something that the Bishop had said. “There’s a reason we’re all here in this cell together; this is a moment and we need to keep is going.” I agree.

Fuck, this is beginning to sound like some odd redemption story – there’s no magical black man who can “acquire things” for me, and I’m not standing in the rain, covered in shit finally free…just the realization that none of us are safe – press, protestor or priest.

Welcome to Bloomberg’s New York.

**Yes, pre-arrested – we’re talking Minority Report shit here. The police arrested an #OWS organizer for crimes that they assumed that he was going to commit later in the day.


Zach Roberts is a freelance photojournalist currently based in New York. He works with Greg Palast as his lead producer, and has edited Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Greg Palast’s Steal Back York Vote illustrated book. If you’d like to support his work on the #OWS movement, cover his legal bills, or help replace the lens that got busted from a police baton during the cleansing of Zuccotti Park (see previous SG report) – you can donate to via paypal.

For more info, visit his website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Oct 2011 31

by A.J. Focht

As if subjecting the demonstrators at #OccupyDenver to the horrors of hypothermia by refusing to allow them to erect shelter against the recent snow and harsh Colorado nights wasn’t bad enough, during the march held on Saturday October 29, the police used unnecessary force on the otherwise peaceful assembly.

Local Denver activist, @EisMC2 a.k.a Emmi Einstein spoke with SuicideGirls and gave us an account of the events of that day:

The march attracted upwards of 2,000 people to the Capitol at Civic Center Park. While the rally marched, Emmi and others stayed back at the #Occupy site to make sure things were running smoothly. She noticed early on that there were many more cops than the usual one or two that roam the park. When a SWAT team started to assemble, the group used the distraction to rebuild their camp. As the cops massed, Emmi noted one was filming the event .

After those on the march had returned to the park, the rally took a turn for the worse. Police moved into the park en mass, driving their motorcycles directly through the crowds. One police motorcyclist drove through a crowd of protestors, hitting one identified as Frank Roper. Roper shoved the bike in a fit of anger. The officer responded by chasing Roper down, tackling him, and proceeding to split his face in two. This is the event that seemed to trigger widescale police brutality on Saturday, and it was all caught on tape by a woman wanting to be known as Pinky Disaster – see video below.

That incident may have served as a catalyst, but it is clear from the video that police were moving in before it occurred. Law enforcement agencies, dressed in riot gear, were forcing their way through the protestors in unnecessarily large numbers. The officer whose bike was shoved could have just continued on, but he instead dismounted and proceeded to brutalize Roper until he required hospital attention; causing the subsequent disastrous chain of events.

[Image of police using pepper spray courtesy of]

Police admitted using Mace and firing pepper balls; protestors claim they were being hit with rubber bullets as well, and many witnessed police using excessive force with batons. Emmi watched things escalate quickly, even witnessing one man being choked by an officer while pinned to the ground. Some of the more terrifying reports include pregnant women getting pepper sprayed, and a kid (possibly identified as a 21-year-old who was filming the event) who was shot out of a tree by several projectiles (pepper balls or rubber bullets). Emmi herself – a 5’2” 95lb female – was pepper sprayed and beaten with a baton by a cop she identified by the badge #05100.

[Photo by Emmi: A Denver protester after he’d been shot in the face by police]

Many of the police on duty did not feel it was necessary to use such force, and instead attempted to keep things as peaceable as possible. Unconfirmed reports also surfaced online that two Denver police officers quit their jobs because of the attacks, and an unidentified source within #OccupyDenver said they witnessed one officer walking away from the riot line in tears saying he wouldn’t do it anymore.

The police made a big deal out of gearing up and loading the tear gas guns, but they never fired. Instead, they moved into the occupants’ encampment with gas masks and tore it down. Numerous #OccupyDenver protestors were arrested at this point as they tried to salvage anything from police grasp. All of the tents, the kitchen, the protest signs, and much more were taken by the police and tossed into a city dump truck.

The excessive force used on the protestors only kindled their spirits. After being down to under a dozen bodies staying on site 24/7, over fifty people stayed through the night on Saturday. And donations quickly came in to help make up for the movement’s losses. Unfortunately, despite donations of tents, occupants are still being forced to sleep without shelter.

Following the events on Saturday, the #OccupyDenver group held a sunset candlelight vigil on Sunday evening. The peaceful event was a collective stand against the violence of the previous night, and served as a chance to refocus the group back on the socioeconomic goals of the #OccupyWallStreet movement as a whole.

More images can be found at

Oct 2011 29

by A.J. Focht

#Occupy protestors across the US are standing their ground as police and politicians do their best to drive them out. Out at the #OccupyDenver protest, the demonstrators remain unwavering despite the efforts of law enforcement agencies and Colorado’s bitter fall cold.

Following Denver’s first winter storm of the year on Wednesday, daily nighttime temperatures are consistently below freezing. The six inches of snow that accumulated wasn’t enough to defeat the #OccupyDenver crowd however. After a few protestors were admitted to the hospital for hypothermia, the group found a nearby indoor location where many of them can stay. Only a handful of steadfast activists are remaining in the park through freezing nights.

The cold isn’t the only adversary #OccupyDenver has faced. Local law enforcement refuses to allow the group to erect shelters, even going as far as to tear down an igloo that was made as a last attempt at protection against arctic weather. The food service station, dubbed the “Thunderdome” has been torn down several times; last time I checked they were on Thunderdome 4. With increasing aggressiveness on each raid, fears rise that the next police action will mirror what happened in Oakland.

[Police use weather as a weapon and pull down #OccupyDenver’s IGLOO!!]

The #OccupyDenver crowd has held several rallies. The last one was held on Saturday October 22, 2011 and attracted between 2,000 and 2,500 according to the police. The resistance continues, and more events are planned for this weekend. The cold has caused their general numbers to dwindle, but the consistent and persistent rallies ensure that they won’t be defeated.

#Occupy protests across the nation are accepting donations to help keep the movement strong. #OccupyDenver has sent out an urgent call to everyone who can help by bringing warm clothes, gear (including sleeping bags and tarps), and anything else that will help them combat the elements (hot drinks, hand warmers, etc.). The group keeps an up-to-date list of needs and requests at, along with any updates on the event. If you want to join them, they are currently occupying Civic Center Park, in front of the Capitol Building. Finally, if you can’t make it down to support them, you can always call Denver Mayor Hancock at 720-865-9000 and add your voice to the collective.

No matter the brutal police violence in Oakland or the harsh nights of Colorado, the #Occupy movement is here to stay. Until the voice of the 99% is heard, and the 1% stop using their money to corrupt our government, the #Occupy movement will stand strong.

Images courtesy of
Huge gratitude to EisMC2 for her assistance with this post.