'It's All Political': Eviction and Arrests of Global Revolution Livestreamers Part of Pattern of Crackdowns on Alternative Living
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A friend of 13 Thames and tactical media activist who goes by the name Spike was also arrested, but according to Jai, he was not even in the building -- instead videotaping from the sidewalk -- when the police were rounding them up. "He was charged with trespassing, but how can you be trespassing when you're on the curb?" said Jai. Another arrestee, who goes by the name Acadia, was also filming on the sidewalk.
Video of the arrests, shot by a colleague named Luke,* has already been responsible for getting “resisting arrest” charges against the residents dropped. "They adjusted their narrative to information that was publicly available," Teichberg told AlterNet, "The voice of the police has a lot more weight than the voice of citizens in court, but the truth is on our side."
The landlord charged Teichberg with assaulting him, but he disputes the claim and says he has footage for most of their argument. Regardless, he can't go back to 13 because there is a restraining order against him.
"Because of false accusations, I can't go back to the space," he said.
"My theory is that the city made the call, and the landlord decided to take the opportunity. The landlord saw an opportunity to get rid of us -- by vacating and arresting us, distracting us." He also says, "The police were acting on the landlord's orders. He was pointing out who to arrest."
"He is an acting one percenter," said Teichberg, referencing his ownership of multiple restaurants in the Bushwick neighborhood.
13 Thames has long been embattled in a legal case to determine the nature of their residency, and the vacate order could have been the result of a tumultuous relationship with their landlord and city agencies. By the end of September, the landlord had withdrawn an eviction order, but 13 and the landlord were still arguing over who is responsible for repairs. According to Fiona Campbell, a resident who was deeply involved with the space's legal issues, "There's been a lot of confusion between the tenants and the landlord, which is a trickle-down effect, because there is no dialogue between the buildings department and the loft board."
The buildings department and the loft board, she said, have different standards, confusing the landlord. Campbell said the building is full of code violations, but, "The landlord wants to be told by the city that he has to fix stuff, but the loft board doesn't tell him to. It's just a mess. If there was something set that made sense between the loft board and the buildings department, it would be a much simpler process."
Still, she says, communication must go both ways: 13 must be willing to pay rent, if the landlord is willing to make renovations. Otherwise, they must make renovations themselves, and pay whatever price of the building is left over to buy it out. But Campbell is not sure whether the raid is completely related to problems with the landlord, or whether residents' involvement with Occupy provoked the raid. "The two times they came in and raided everyone were before the Anarchist Book Fair, and now this," she said.
Regardless, "We were there legally, as residents of that building." said Vlad. Now, at least eight people are homeless.
"I can't say that the department of buildings and the fire department doesn't have a legal right to enter into space in the city of New York. They clearly do, but I believe that there's more at play here. I think that this is a politically motivated situation," Wylie Stecklow, an attorney for the livestreamers, told AlterNet. 13's inhabitants, Stecklow said, had been utilizing the space with impunity for years, all the while working regularly with the fire department to make sure it was not a dangerous space. "Nothing occurred in the days or weeks leading up to the vacate order that was now again put on here for the 5th or 6th time that made it all of a sudden dangerous or perilous to life," said Stecklow, who believes the order to vacate was issued from people in power, higher up than the inspectors or fire department who made the visit to 13 Thames.