On Eve of May Day, NYPD Harassed, Arrested Intimidated Protesters At Their Homes

Gawker's Adrian Chen has a bombshell of a story about how the cops have been showing up at activist organizers' homes, arresting them and their roommates for outstanding violations, and vigorously questioning them about May Day--information confirmed by the National Lawyer's Guild.

Here's what the people involved told Chen:


In the first case: activist Zachary Dempster said that six NYPD officers broke down the door of his Bushwick, Brooklyn apartment at around 6:15am this morning. Dempster said they were armed with a warrant for the arrest of his roommate, musician Joe Crow Ryan, for a six-year-old open container violation. But Dempster believes this was an excuse to check in on him, as he'd been arrested in February at an Occupy Wall Street Party that was broken up by cops, and charged with assaulting a police office and inciting a riot.

After running his ID, a detective questioned Dempster in his bedroom for about five minutes about tomorrow's May Day protest, he said.

"They asked what I was doing tomorrow, and if I knew of any activities, any events—that was how the conversation started," Dempster said. Dempster said he's not planning doing much, as his case from February is still open. Dempster's roommate was also asked about him and May Day.

About an hour later, an activist friend of Dempster's who runs in anarchist circles said his apartment in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, where he lives with a half-dozen other activists and Occupy Wall Street organizers was visited by six NYPD cops—possibly the same ones. The activist said police used arrest warrants for two men who no longer lived there as pretext for the raid. The officers ran the IDs of everyone who was in the apartment, then booked our source when they discovered he had an outstanding open container violation. Police never asked about Occupy Wall Street or May Day, but our source said the message was clear: We're watching you.

This is standard fare for the new NYPD--more than really gleaning out organizer's plans, the tactics are to intimidate and preemptively harass organizers. This is the kind of treatment that people of color in the city's less affluent neighborhoods deal with every day--not to mention Muslim citizens who have been spied on--and it's our toleration of that kind of aggressive policing which leads to increased surveillance and aggressive treatment of free-speech exercising protesters.


AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at May 1, 2012, 3:40am

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