'It's All Political': Eviction and Arrests of Global Revolution Livestreamers Part of Pattern of Crackdowns on Alternative Living
A sign in Foley Square, November 17th 2011
Photo by Sarah Seltzer
Photo Credit: Sarah Seltzer
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"It's all political," said Jai, one of the Global Revolution livestreamers arrested in the eviction Monday, January 2nd, of the 13 Thames collective art space that was housing the Occupy Wall Street-affiliated media crew.
After he was released from prison Wednesday night, Jai told AlterNet, "The fact is, I'm homeless now."
Global Revolution is the international network for the independent media from Occupy movements across the globe. While the eviction and arrests could have been another tactic to target and silence Occupy media, another possibility looms: Before Global Revolution, before Occupy, 13 Thames was a communal home in Bushwick, Brooklyn with a punk-anarchist edge, where tactical media projects were produced, and radical ideas were exchanged and practiced. Activists by lifestyle, inhabitants at 13 Thames created a space for communal living, rejection of norms, and demonstration planning.
Out of 13 Thames came not only Global Revolution, but musicians and artists of all sorts, as well as the Glass Bead Collective, a tactical media group that projected images of political prisoners onto the FBI building, and filmed Amy Goodman’s arrest at the 2008 Republican National Convention. If the order to vacate was not a tactic to disrupt Occupy livestreamers, it may still have been issued to strike down yet another radical space.
On Monday night, two representatives from the Department of Buildings and two NYPD officers showed up at 13 Thames, demanding they do an on-site inspection while they were in the building to inspect the neighbors at 15 Thames. The visit stemmed from an outstanding vacate order for the first floor of both 13 and 15 Thames. It was last addressed in May of 2010, but the inspectors appeared determined to take care of it immediately.
"I didn't let them in," Jai said. "They barged in on Monday, with the police, without our consent or a warrant to come into our home." Then, he said, the Department of Buildings called the fire department, who checked the sprinklers, and determined they were functioning. Unsatisfied, the inspectors decided they wanted an additional sprinkler in the hallway between the front and back rooms. "We've had inspections before, and they never said anything about sprinklers in the hallway," Jai said.
According to Jai, the need for an additional sprinkler was enough for the building inspector to declare the space "perilous to life," and they were ordered to leave right away. Vlad Teichberg, a 13 Thames resident and cofounder of the Glass Bead Collective and Global Revolution Livestream, explained to AlterNet the circumstances of the vacate order. On January 2nd, "The Buildings Department and Fire Department arrived at 8pm -- on a holiday -- which is very strange. These are not normal working hours," Teichberg said. Teichberg and Jai also said they heard an inspector say he had received a phone call that day, ordering him to take care of the old issue immediately.
Teichberg said inspectors immediately showed interest in the media equipment, and made comments like "What were you filming here?" before telling residents they could no longer "occupy" the space. "It was very strange," said Teichberg.
The next day, after having an argument with the landlord -- who residents say had entered the space without permission -- Teichberg was arrested on his way out of the space, after having gathered some legal documents to challenge the vacate order in court. He and his wife, Nikky Schiller, a livestreamer/revolutionary transplant from Spain who came to see America’s uprising, were en route to an appointment for their baby's first ultrasound. "It's a really important part of becoming a father, to see the baby for the first time," said Teichberg, "but the appointment had to be postponed."