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.

Nov 2011 30

by Nicole Powers

[Above: The heroes of last night’s raid – citizen journalists and Livestreamers Oakfosho and OccupyFreedomLA]

Though thankfully there’s no reports of anyone being seriously hurt during last night’s police action, perhaps the biggest casualty was the First Amendment and freedom of the press. The LAPD pre-selected a group of a dozen handpicked mainstream media representatives, and denied access to the City Hall grounds to all other journalists while the eviction was taking place. (During the actual raid, any media already present were warned that they may face arrest or serious injury if they ignored the dispersal order and remained on the South Lawn.) Predictably, no independent or alternative outlets – and no bloggers or Livestreamers – were among the LAPD’s chosen few.

At one point in the evening, citizen-journalist-turned-Livestream-celebrity OakFoSho was threatened by an officer who pointed the business end of a weapon at him – with his finger on the trigger. This incident was witnessed by the surrounding crowd who chanted “guns down” repeatedly in response and the approximately 15,000 viewers who were watching OakFoSho’s stream. The officer’s name was duly noted and shared by numerous tweeters (including friend of SG Wil Wheaton).

Just as troubling was the fact that the pool of approved media had serious restrictions placed upon them. They were not allowed to tweet or call-in stories live from inside the park until after the eviction, and had to funnel all pool reports via a city news wire service. Additionally, KCAL9 revealed they had “made an agreement with the LAPD to not give away their tactics,” and, according to BoingBoing’s Xeni Jardin, “CBS LA blacked out shots so as to ‘not interfere with integrity of police action.'” Many other bloggers and tweeters also noted their disappointment at the easy compliance of so-called journalists and traditional media outlets, whom they felt should have put up more resistance to the obvious attempt to restrict and suppress information.

The underlying serious First Amendment issue at play here is the principle that the police shouldn’t be the ones to decide who is and who isn’t deemed press – since the function of a free press in a democracy is to provide a check and balance for those in authority. Furthermore, even those members of the media granted pre-designated access can’t cover any action freely if they’re worried about having the credentials they need for such coverage rescinded (as was the case in New York during the Zuccotti Park eviction). Given the gravity of this issue, we expect this story to develop over the next few days and weeks, and understand the ACLU is already in the process of taking action.

Nov 2011 30

by Nicole Powers

Just over 24 hours before #OccupyLA would have celebrated its 2-month anniversary, the encampment at City Hall in DTLA was raided. The operation involved 1400 police officers and resulted in 200+ arrests (update: LAPD have confirmed a total of 292). After staging and loading into buses at Dodger Stadium earlier in the evening, police swarmed Solidarity Park from the outside in, and from the inside out – with officers in riot gear and hazmat suits pouring out of the South Doors of City Hall. The LAPD claim that there were only 3 violent incidents resulting in injury. The last of the protesters – 4 people and a dog – that had been holding out in a tree house, were removed from their tree top fort with the help of a cherry picking mobile platform and rifles firing bean bag rounds just before dawn. Clean up crews quickly moved in to dismantle the camp. These images were shot between 7 and 8 AM today.

RIP #OccupyLA at #Solidarity Park. Long live #Occupy. You can’t remove, arrest, destroy, bulldoze, or dispose of an idea.

We sidestep some of LA’s finest to shoot what’s left of Solidarity Park.

As we shoot through the fence in one area an officer tells us “the sidewalk is closed.”

We are a peaceful movement. Never stoop to their level. One love.

A tent is dragged to a dumpster by a member of the cleanup crew.

And another one.

Wishes written by children from the #OccupyLA creche are still attached to a tree.

A news crew reporting on the aftermath amidst the rubble.


Here’s to the death of mindless consumerism.

Camp life sure was colorful.

A trash truck moves into the heart of Solidarity Park.

A bamboo sculpture gets trashed and compacted.

The white stuff piled up in the foreground is discarded disposable hazmat suits.

Remember: Close your account.

The bulldozers move in.

Concrete barriers are transported to City Hall.

A bulldozer moves a concrete barrier into place.

City Hall is now a fortress surrounded by concrete barriers and wire fencing.

But the protesting don’t stop.

Waiting for peace at a bus stop as the sun rises.

Picking through the rubble. Just after I took this picture, this chap found a pair of socks!

A displaced member of the #OccupyLA community is happy to have rescued his belongings.

More displaced set up home a few blocks away.

The site of #OccupyLA’s last stand. The Freedom Fort occupied by Manny, Chad, Shane, Lucky, and a dog – who was technically the last occupier to leave the park!

They were the dreamers – indeed a friend told a livestreamer that Manny had wanted to build a tree house ever since he was a kid. Not sure getting arrested was on his wish list though.

No prizes for guessing what these are!

Nov 2011 29

by Aaron Colter

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything about #OccupyWallStreet, and even longer since I first posted about the movement’s inception. Since then, a lot of things have happened, most of which are still too difficult to cope with intelligently or even handle on basic level. The world is awaking, bursting at the seams of what it means to be a society. It’s exciting, but frightening as well, confusing as always.

I hope to unpack all of those thoughts soon. Put them into the right places so that I can have a better grasp of what Occupy means, why in some ways it was a tragedy, and why it’s still hopeful. Most importantly, why its failure is a personal failure.

For now, if you’re supportive of the moment, continue to do what you can. Some of us in the comic scene have decided to come together for a Kickstarter project called Occupy Comics. Top names in the industry are creating their own interpretations and stories from the Occupy movement for a book that will be collected next year. For now, funds raised will be donated by the artists to various efforts around the world to help the Occupy movement continue. There are only a few days left to contribute if you’d like to help out or get a book.

Creators involved include: Darick Robertson (Transmetropolitan), Dan Goldman (Shooting War), Amanda Palmer (Evelyn, Evelyn), Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night), Charlie Adlard (The Walking Dead), Riley Rossmo (Cowboy Ninja Viking), Tim Seely (Hack/Slash), Zoetica Ebb (SuicideGirls, Biorequiem), Steve Rolston (Queen & Country), Tyler Crook (B.P.R.D.), Steve Niles (30 Days of Night), both Brea Grant and Zane Grant of the SuicideGirls comic series, and many more. Plus, several other top creators will be announced soon!

If you’re into the idea, please contribute to the Kickstarter. And if you have an idea of your own for how to keep the Occupy movement alive, please make it a reality.

Thanks for reading.

Stay safe, stay positive.


Nov 2011 17

[Above: OWS protestors hold the line and refuse to move.]

It’s likely no coincidence that Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD took undeniably brutal action against #OccupyWallStreet protesters at Zuccotti Park just two days before the encampment will celebrate its two month anniversary. The cowardly raid, no doubt designed to intimidate (but ultimately resolve-strengthening), started around 1.30 AM EST on the morning of Tuesday, November 15, long after news crews had knocked off for the evening, under the cover of night as protesters slept in their tents. Photographer, videographer, journalist, and friend of SuicideGirls, Zach D. Roberts was on the scene to report. – Nicole Powers, Ed

[Above: Police move protestors with extreme brute force.]

The Cleansing of Zuccotti Park by Zach D. Roberts

Fuck. My lens is busted – a goddamn cop hit it with a night stick. Then he hit me. Then he shoved me backwards – I nearly fell backward into the crowd, tripping over the edge of the sidewalk. I would have been trampled.

That’s when it got a bit scary.

He was yelling, “GET BACK!!! GET BACK!!!”

There was the road and moving traffic behind us, but he didn’t seem to care – so the choice was keep walking backward and filming, possibly backing into moving traffic or dart between the taxis – I made the decision to turn and dart, keeping my camera facing back just shooting wide and point in the cops general direction.

Some kids got plastered into and over the cab, which luckily at this point had stopped. Others fell, and while trying to get up were whacked with night sticks, “MOVE, MOVE!”

The fact that they were on the ground, on their back getting hit and held down didn’t really matter to the NYPD. Eventually the cops allowed other protestors to drag the kids away and out of the street.

This night wasn’t about making arrests, it was about beating heads and making a point. The 17th was only 48 hours away and the police wanted to make sure that everyone knew they were the law (to be read in a Judge Dredd voice)

[Above: Police push back protestors away from Zucotti Square, pushing one woman to the ground.]

Ok, so here’s what happened in Lower Manhattan early Tuesday morning.

Fuck. That’s what happened.

Free speech, the right to assemble peacefully, and some well meaning kids were pissed upon by a 3-term mayor who is also a billionaire and owner of a media empire.

[Above: Police arrest protestor for jaywalking.]

I’m sorry for the expletives, but if you were there you’d know they were needed. I haven’t seen this sort of police madness since the years of the Bush admin when dirty hippies and the press were fair game. Also watching a kid get slammed repeatedly in the face with a police shield has it’s effect on your bias. I’ll admit it here – I’m with the kids, the protestors, with the occupiers. If we have any hope for this nation it will be from the ones at the business end of a baton – not the one swinging it.

After the initial confrontation with the NYPD, protestors were bottle necked and then split up so their numbers would be too small to take on the masses of over-timed police that were standing, waiting with pepper spray, helmets, shields and batons. I saw all of the aforementioned used as weapons that night in a way that you knew that their supervisors weren’t watching.

NOTE: This was the first time the uniformed NYPD (the blue shirts) were not directly supervised by the white shirts (Leuitenants and up in rank).

Word got around that everyone was reconvening at Union Square to figure out what exactly to do. Foley square was also mentioned, but the group that I decided to go with was going with Union. The group started out with about a dozen then attached itself to a larger contingent of about 50, this metastasizing went on for a while until we were in the East Village (about 15 blocks from Zuccotti) and our numbers were 150-200.

Unfortunately these numbers included a contingent of what might be called black bloc. These are the people you see on the news – the only ones that the mainstream cameras usually go with. Garbage cans being thrown in the street make for much sexier footage than a protestor explaining the intricacies of why they are marching. I understand why they do. Personally I’ll take the shots and let my editors decide. Luckily I usually work for smart editors – I don’t work for The Post.

Somehow we lose the police. I can’t tell if it’s because they gave up chasing us (your average protestor is in better shape than your average cop, it’s a fact – I’m sorry) or if our quick and flowing changes in direction made them lose us. Either way, there’s 150 protestors running down the middle of Broadway with only 5 members of the press (counting me) to cover it. This. Is. Awesome.

Full disclosure, I used to be a protestor, a community organizer (gasp!) but then I got sick and tired of losing and not getting anything covered by the news so I decided to switch allegiances and start covering the events.

[Above: Protestors make it up to Houston St. – many blocks from Zucotti Park – on their way to Union Square.]

Ah shit. Lights, and they’re coming up quick. Holy shit they’re coming up quick. Really quick. People are yelling, “Watch out! Watch out!” I grab one of my friends, another freelance shooter out of the way from a cop car flying by. That was close, waayyy too close. The cop drives the car into the crowd of protestors up ahead nearly hitting about 10 that couldn’t jump out of the way quick enough. He’s immediately out of the car, baton ready, and grabs the first kid he sees and slams him face down into the hood of the car.

Fucking brilliant! AP shooter John Minchillo and I are the first ones there. The kids are sprinting ahead now, while others stay behind chanting “SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!” One gets hauled away in the cop car.

We’re off again, this time back towards Zuccotti – or at least I think so. The cops are very outnumbered, so they stay behind and let us retake Broadway and then Houston. Some of the black bloc protestors run up the front of taxis waiting at the stop light to the surprise of the tourists inside. The driver actually looks somewhat bored.

[Above: Protestors take the street in the East Village.]

Stand off at Zuccotti.

Five hours later and probably about five miles of cat and mouse games with the police we’re back at where this all started – standing near the closest entrance to Wall St. Well not on the street; My best friend since grade school, CS Muncy (another brilliant shooter), is standing with me on top of a police car. We’re exhausted. CS was sleeping comfortably when I called him screaming, “They’re clearing the fucking park!” He lucked out and made it in the Zuccotti Park to shoot the actual cleanup while I was stuck on the outside. He jumped the police barricades and ignored the cops yells to stop, getting some front page shots before being thrown out. Press were not allowed. No photos for the history books – except for the ones that he got. That’s what he does.

It’s 6am. There is now a general feeling of victory in the air. People are playing music and dancing. A couple makes out for a solid 15 mins on top of a phone booth. Half for the pleasure, half for the photographers. This is their moment in the sun, their 15mins – what better way of spending it than making out with your girlfriend. I’ve got my injured camera.

Black bloc starts letting the air out of the tires of the police cars that we are currently occupying.

I’m wondering though as the police start pushing forward to clear this part of the street, to push us again away from Zuccotti, is this the crest of the wave? Will this be remembered 20 years from now by anyone other than a handful of protestors and journo’s as they reminisce over beers? Will I write about this like Hunter Thompson wrote about the middle ‘60s?

To steal a better ending than I could write I’ll use Hunter’s words.

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Hudson, then up the Brooklyn Bridge or down Broadway to Zuccotti. . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . .

And that, I think, was the handle — that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting — on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .

[Above: NYPD in front of the new World Trade Center building near Zucotti Park]

[Below: Zucotti Park being sanitized.]


Zach D. Roberts is a photo/video journalist who’s work has been seen in the Observer, The Guardian Online,, The Minnesota Independent, among others. For the past 5 years he’s been working as a researcher/producer for Greg Palast. He produced several DVD’s and news pieces for the BBC’s Newsnight show. Zach edited Palast and RFK Jr’s Steal Back Your Vote comic – which had nearly 100,000 downloads and print copies distributed throughout the world). Currently he works regularly as a video producer for Jamie Kilstein and Allison Kilkenny’s CitizenRadio.

Zach has been detained in New Orleans by Exxon Mobil security, threatened with arrest over three dozen times but has never been arrested. In 2010 he met Sarah Palin while working on his soon to be released first feature length documentary ‘The Rogue Candidate: Sarah Palin’s Real Alaska.’ While in Alaska he broke several stories via For more 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.