More thuggery here:
By now, my cell phone video of two Citibank costumers being forcibly arrested outside the LaGuardia Place branch in New York City on October 15th 2011 has been seen by almost a million people.
As the person who unwittingly shot the video of the incident, I though it might be useful to respond to some of the media attention it has been getting.
A few friends and I attended a rally of college students, high school students, teachers, professors in Washington Square Park, which was connected to the ongoing Occupy Wall Street protests in lower Manhattan – and now around the country and around the world.
After the rally, I went into a nearby coffee shop and when I returned to the park I heard that a few dozen people had decided to head over to the local Citibank branch to talk about their student debt and close their accounts. I thought one of my friends might be among them so I walked the few blocks to the bank.
As I arrived I saw Citi Bank security guards locking the doors to the bank.
Contrary to the City Bank PR statement, the cops were not yet on the scene when Citi Bank officials chose to lock the doors to the branch– effectively kidnapping those inside.
Since I could see my friends were still inside the bank, I took out my blackberry and began recording through the window.
As I filmed an undercover, plain clothes police officer approached a women standing next to me outside the window. He accused her of having been inside the bank and said she had to come with him. As you can see on the video she repeats over and over, “I’m a customer,” and she holds up her Citibank check book. Though it’s not audible on the video, she also told him that she was just trying to close her account.
As my voice in the video will testify I was shocked and shaken by what happened next. The women, and the man standing next to her, were dragged inside the bank through a side door and arrested allow with 22 other people who were locked inside.
I watched in horror from the sidewalk as police dragged each person out one by one and loaded them into a line of paddy wagons. I could see that a few people were bleeding from their wrists where the police zip ties were cutting them.
I did not know the woman or man being arrested by the undercover cop in my video, but I desperately wanted to find them to give them the video to help with their court cases.
Today, I went down to Central Booking in Manhattan for the arraignments of the 24 people arrested. They were in jail for almost 30 hours. Most were charged with disorderly conduct, but a few have more serious charges–including trespassing and resisting arrest.
After waiting four hours in the courtroom they were finally released, along with my other friends. Their hands and wrists were cut up from the roughness of the police and zip ties. Everyone who was in jail was tired, hungry, and mentally and emotionally exhausted from spending the night in a cell–but no one was deterred from participating in the Occupy movement.
I asked my friends what had happened inside and they told me that they had all agreed they would leave the bank when asked. That no one had had any interest in being arrested that day. They all had thought, as citizens and as Citibank customers, they would be given a chance to leave the branch before action was taken against them. Sadly they were wrong.
I’m an underemployed recent college graduate with a degree in economics (of all things) and like many in my generation I have over $50,000 in student loans. I’m currently working as a babysitter to try and pay the bills.
This is why I organize with Occupy Wall Street. Because I am part of the 99%–and if you’re reading this, there’s a 99% chance that you are too! The most beautiful thing about the Occupy Movement is that we can create, on a small scale, a version of the society in which we would like to live. A society with free education and health care–where democracy is participatory and real and our social relationships are founded on community, mutual aid, equality, respect, and solidarity.
If you believe that what is happening in this country is wrong, if you believe that as a society we can do better than this, then find an Occupy event in your city or town! And remember to bring your cell phone or video camera – you might just need it!
– Meaghan Linick, Brooklyn NY