[Marxism] Finally, OWS gets police to arrest the people in suits

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Mar 29 13:41:06 MDT 2012


Finally, OWS gets police to arrest the people in suits
by Bryan Farrell | March 26, 2012, 1:46 pm

Sometimes justice requires a little imagination. On Saturday, when 
much of the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York was loudly 
denouncing police violence against minorities and protesters, a 
small group of environmentalists dreamed up a way to get the 
police to focus on the crimes of the 1 percent, to the point of 
arresting five corporate suits on United Nations property.

Granted, those five were actually members of the OWS affinity 
group Disrupt Dirty Power, which used Saturday’s action (billed as 
a “mock’upation”) to launch a month of actions targeting the 
“corrupt partnership between Wall Street, politicians and the 
business of pollution.” Police officers seemed thrown for a loop 
as they tore down tents bearing corporate logos and cuffed people 
who claimed to be from Bank of America and ExxonMobil. Compared to 
the rowdy anti-NYPD march earlier that afternoon, this time, the 
cops had more of a chance to think about what side they’re really on.

As the action began around 5 p.m., the police presence was focused 
on the small group of OWS protesters gathered in Dag Hammarskjold 
Plaza, a few blocks away from U.N. headquarters. The officers must 
have noticed the signs and banners, heard the people’s mic, 
observed the silly improv performance skewering corporate 
polluters and thought they were in the right place. But if they 
had paid closer attention, they might have seen where things were 

At one point, a couple of “representatives” from Bank of America 
addressed the crowd, satirizing the bank’s all too real connection 
to the U.N. and its upcoming Conference on Sustainable Development 
in Rio de Janeiro this June. One of them announced:

     The most exciting news of the day is that we have accepted 
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s invitation to permanently 
occupy the U.N. climate conference. Our hats go off to the Occupy 
movement for this concept of occupation, and we feel that we at 
Bank of America are well-equipped to realize the full free-market 

After wrapping up their discussion of the many ways Bank of 
America metaphorically occupies the U.N. to build a consensus 
around deregulation as the main vehicle for international 
development, the “representatives” invited the crowd to visit 
their physical occupation. As if that wasn’t quite enough to tip 
off the police, an OWS organizer then belted out the day’s objective:

     Today when we march, we are not going to get arrested. We 
want the 1 percent to get arrested. We’re going to have fun and 
we’re going to put pressure upon this great institution. … And 
we’re going to be peaceful and jubilant to show just how peaceful 
we can be as opposed to this violent system.

Police officers then processed along with the protesters toward 
United Nations Plaza. But as soon as the march turned the corner, 
and the corporate tents came into full view, the officers took 
off, leaving the protesters in the dust. Within minutes the 
suit-wearing culprits were arrested beside their tents. Not having 
planned for this, however, the police had nowhere to put them. So 
while they waited for a van to arrive, the handcuffed 1 percenters 
stood and shouted to the protesters still marching peacefully 
across the street.

     Bloomberg is in our pocket! … We control everything! … We 
have PR companies, the media, Obama, Congress! … I just invested 
$5 million in a Super PAC, I’m good! … We will be released soon, 
don’t worry! … Those are the occupiers you should be arresting!

Rebecca Manski, who helped organize the action and was among the 
five arrested, said the police really didn’t get that she and the 
others were just pretending to be corporate executives. “They were 
totally fooled by 1-percent appearance,” Manski explained. “They 
thought we were of a different class — maybe not the 1 percent 
exactly — but their perception was challenged of what a protester 
looks like.”

Seeing the protesters in different clothes seemed to make a big 
difference. Some of the officers had just come from Union Square, 
where the situation was tense after a long, angry march from 
Zuccotti Park. Manski actually overheard her arresting officer 
talk about being called “a goon” earlier in the day. The officer 
could hardly believe that Manski and the other suits were from the 
same protest movement.

OWS legal consul typically advises protesters not to speak with 
police officers once they’ve been arrested, but Manski decided to 
bend the rules. She apologized for the name-calling and was 
treated so gently that she wasn’t even sure where she was supposed 
to go. Eventually, she found her way into the police van, where an 
officer actually told her, “I’m sorry we had to arrest you today. 
We support what you are doing.”

Once at the station, the arrestees continued to be treated well. 
Manski reports that when one officer began complaining that they 
were to blame for him having to work overtime on a Saturday night, 
another corrected him, saying, “No, it’s the banks’ fault.” The 
first officer ended up agreeing, and he added, “It’s the banks’ 
fault and the 1 percent’s fault.” Both officers then worked to get 
everyone released that day, when originally it seemed that some 
were going to have to spend the night in jail.

“They were getting the connection between the banks and abusive 
power,” says Manski. Much to her relief, the day’s action had 
brought attention back to the issues and those who need to be held 
accountable. She couldn’t help but wonder about possible next 
steps: “Wouldn’t it be great to have a whole march on Wall Street 
with everyone dressed as bankers?”

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