Category Archives: Cops

Wrapping Up

Dear friends of the People’s Library, we recently hit a turning point in the history of our beloved library. As you may remember, last spring we reached a settlement with the city and it’s various departments and officials. We received $47,000 and a not-quite-apology. We got lots of questions about what we were going to do with all that money.

As the city and the NYPD have made it an impossible thing to plant libraries such as we once had, we knew it would be futile and wasteful to attempt such a thing. Further, we are tired and busy, and many of us have moved on to other projects and several have left NYC for less hellish homes.  Besides which, money being power, and power corrupting… we didn’t want it. After all, it wasn’t really about the money, it’s just that money is how capitalist government says it’s sorry. Earlier on in the lawsuit process, we were offered a settlement without the not-quite-apology. We didn’t take it.

Anyway, we had no use for it, but we knew there were lots of groups that could use it. We drew up a list of groups we’d like to help out, divided, and wrote some checks.

Of course, it wasn’t actually that simple. There was a ridiculous group video conference, where we spent more time trying to get the damn thing to work than actually talking, for example. It obviously took a while. I’d especially like to thank Michele, Danny, and Zachary for staying on top of it and doing most of the legwork. I’d also like to thank our liaisons from Finance for helping us out along the way. And, as always, big thanks to our lawyers.

For transparency’s sake, here’s the list of groups we gave it to. We’ve held on to a little bit for things like maintaining the domain registrations of the blog and what-have-you.

  • Word Up Community Bookshop
  • The Brecht Forum
  • Bluestockings Books
  • Queers for Economic Justice
  • National Lawyers Guild
  • Food for Thought Books
  • Waging Nonviolence
  • Reader to Reader
  • Silvia Rivera Law Project
  • OWS Jail Support / Just Info
  • Indiana Prison College
  • Free University NYC
  • Books Through Bars
  • Housing Works
  • NYC Anarchist Black Cross
  • Pink and Black
  • Urban Librarians Unite
  • Queens Café (new community space in Queens)
  • Leadnow
  • Free Press
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation
  • NYCLU
  • Demand Progress
  • Brooklyn Public Library
  • Queens Library Foundation
  • New York Public Library
  • New Alternatives
  • Bailey House
  • Lesbian Herstory Archives
  • Interference Archive
  • American Indian College Fund
  • Brooklyn Base
  • Tamiment Library
  • OWS poetry Anthology

So, that’s pretty much it, y’all. It’s been great to serve you as your faithful librarians. You’ll hear from us occasionally as we work on further projects. And next time things go all insurrection, we’ll be there, too, books in hand.

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Filed under 11/15 Eviction, Announcements, Cops, Donations, Friends of the Library, Jaime, Lawsuit

Media Alert for Library Press Event/Lawsuit: THURSDAY, MAY 24, 11:00 AM

For Immediate Release: May 23, 2012

Press Contact: press@occupywallst.org, 347-292-1444

For this action only: William Scott, 412-390-6510

Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Wall Street Librarians to file Federal Court lawsuit against Bloomberg, the City of New York and NYPD — legal effort to uncover November 15 raid details.

New York–A lawsuit will be filed tomorrow, May 24, in Manhattan Federal Court seeking redress for the destruction of books, materials and equipment from the popular and respected People’s Library of Occupy Wall Street (OWS). NYPD raided and forcibly evicted Occupy Wall Street, including the People’s Library, from its Liberty Square camp (also known as Zuccotti Park) on November 15, 2011. The middle-of-the night raid, by members of the NYPD and other city agencies, was authorized by NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Journalists were prevented from witnessing the attack; some were arrested. The raid struck not only at Constitutional rights but at a fundamental tool of enlightenment – thousands of library books and materials were destroyed.

What: Federal Court lawsuit filing, press availability with OWS Librarians and lawyers. Copies of the complaint will be available.

When: Thursday, May 24, at 11:00 AM

Where: United States District Court (Manhattan Federal Court), Manhattan. Press availability OUTSIDE — directly across the street from the 200 Worth entrance, on the sidewalk in front of Columbus Park

Who: Occupy Wall Street Librarians from the People’s Library, lawsuit attorneys Norman Siegel and Herbert Teitelbaum of Siegel, Teitelbaum & Evans.

Occupy Wall Street is part of an international people powered movement fighting for economic justice in the face of neoliberal economic practices, the crimes of Wall Street, and a government controlled by monied interests. #OWS is the 99% organizing to end the tyranny of the 1%. For more info, visit www.occupywallst.org and www.nycga.net

# # #

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Filed under 11/15 Eviction, Announcements, Betsy, Cops, Media

May Day General Strike Info Round-Up

Tomorrow!  I can barely contain myself.  In the meantime, here’s DA Mom’s round-up of important information for tomorrow’s actions in New York City.

The May Day NYC website has a schedule of events, list of participating organizations, links to other locations’ actions, and other useful tidbits.

If you use Twitter, some of the hashtags to follow will be #MayDay, #M1NYC, #M1GS, #GeneralStrike, #99PKTS, #May1, #OWS, #MTA, #NYPD, #NYC.  Tweeters who usually have good info include @OWSTactical, @DiceyTroop, @sabokitty, @OccupySteve, @_girlalex, @OWSBC, @PoweredByCats, @occutine, @TimCast, @OccupyWallSt, @OccupyWallStNYC.  Your dear librarians tweet, as always, from @OWSLibrary.

Streamers work from two places, UStream and LiveStream.  On UStream, try stopmotionsolo, pinkladies, timcast, occupiedair, or owsnyclive.  On LiveStream, try owshdtv.

If that’s not enough media for you, there’s also May Day Radio and Media For the 99%.

Enough of that.  On to dressing and packing!  It’s going to be a long day, the weather might not be great, there’s going to be a lot of long walks, and the cops are going to be heavy-handed.   That said, some of your decisions can be made based on your risk level; if you’ll be in green zones all day you might dress differently than if you’ll be going red.  A longer check-list is here.  My advice:

  • Comfy, sturdy, water-proof or -resistant shoes, such as hiking boots.
  • Full-length pants.
  • A couple upper-body layers that are breathable & will still keep you warm if damp.  I’ll be wearing light wool.
  • It might rain in the morning, consider a light rain coat that can be stuffed in a bag when the weather clears.
  • If you have the space, carry some clothes that allow you to khaki-flage or go civilian.  Or, dress that way in the first place.  For example, I might pack a blouse and a pair of loafers, and wear corduroys instead of jeans.  That way I can look “normal” in a rush-hour crowd or look business-casual if I end up doing jail support later in the day.
  • Do not bring anything that you aren’t ok with loosing.
  • Do not wear contact lenses.  Really.
  • Don’t wear earrings, necklaces, etc. that could be grabbed and ripped off.
  • Don’t wear makeup or put on lotion — pepper spray sticks to it.
  • Wear long hair so that it can’t easily be grabbed, such as in a bun.
  • Smaller bags, worn close to the body, are better.  Harder to grab, and lighter.
  • Water and calorie-dense snacks (Clif Bars, nuts, dried fruit, pastries).
  • If you expect to be in yellow or red zones, consider a couple bandanas (mind the masking laws!), leather work gloves, air-tight goggles.  Some of this stuff is really specific to the kinds of less-than-lethal weapons your local police force likes to use; for example, tear gas canisters are hot, so you need gloves to throw them back handle them, but aren’t a thing we’ve seen NYPD use.  [By the way, canisters are easily dealt with by either putting a bucket over them or submersing them in water. Just saying.]
  • Cell phone & camera.  Bring an extra battery and charging cables.
  • Carry a valid government-issued ID, if you have one.  You don’t legally have to, but you might get out of jail faster.
  • DO NOT bring anything that can incriminate you or people connected to you.  Weapons, drugs you don’t have a prescription for (bring a doctor’s note or prescription if you have legal drugs), your address book, etc.  Delete interesting photos from your phone or camera.  If you are arrested the cops will go through all your stuff very carefully.

There’re a few important phone numbers.  These are New York City specific.  The National Lawyers Guild (those are the folks in the green hats) is 212-679-6018.  Jail Support Coordination is 774-257-4697.  Medic dispatch is 917-727-8621.  If you  haven’t already committed the NLG number to memory, write it on yourself in Sharpie, somewhere that clothes and sweat won’t rub it off. I go with the inside of my calf.  Especially if you will be in red zones, also consider writing an emergency contact number and medical info (blood type, allergies, etc) on your body, in case you get the shit beaten out of you.  If you witness arrests, or are arrested yourself, call the NLG to report it.  Try to get arrestees’ names, so that we can find them later at precincts and central booking.  If not, give a good description, or at the very least a head-count.  If someone near you is injured, yell “medic!” as loud as you can.

Lastly, we know that the cops are mostly a bunch of jerks who don’t like to uphold the law when it’s inconvenient to do so.  Which means, while there are laws about where we can be and what we can do, it doesn’t mean we won’t be arrested for trying to do those supposedly legal things.  Signs, standing on the sidewalk, running, dancing, saying mean things, et fucking cetera, have all gotten folks arrested lately.  That said, there are some things you can do to decrease your chance of arrest, or at least give yourself a stronger case in court.

Know your rights!  The NY Civil Liberties Union has a lot of information, but I’ll also sum it up for you.  As we said at summer camp, this is a repeat-after-me song; as you read this paragraph, repeat the things you might have to say a few times out loud.  If police stop you, ask, “Am I free to go?”  If they say yes, leave; if they say no, ask “Am I being detained?”  If they say no, leave; if they say yes, holler for legal and media.   If cops try to search you, say, “I do not consent to this search.”  They’ll probably still search you, but anything they find may not then be admissible in court.  Of course, if they have a warrant, they can search you and it’ll be admissible, no matter what you say; in that case, demand to see the warrant, don’t let them bullshit you.  This also applies if cops show up at your door.  Do not let them in — don’t even open the door! — unless they show you a warrant with all the correct information on it.  Other than the above, the only other thing you should ever say to a cop (or other law enforcement agent) is “I am going to remain silent; I would like to speak to a lawyer.”  You can (and probably should) give them you name and address, but after that, shut up.  Really, anything you say can and will be used against you, so zip it!  As Safer Spaces said at GA on my first day at the occupation: rule number one, don’t talk to cops, rule number two, don’t talk to cops!  You are allowed to video the cops, including any interactions you have with them.  They won’t like it, but it’s legal and good idea.

A short word on horses — the NYPD likes to bring them out for crowd control on big action days.  We may see some tomorrow.  Horses are naturally disinclined to step on people, though some of that gets trained out of police mounts.  So, if you’ve got some coming at you, and you can’t get out of the way, make yourself compact, cover your head, keep your limbs tucked in, and stay still.

 

So, I’ll see y’all in the morning.  I plan to eat a good dinner, polish my boots, kiss one of my menfolk, and go to bed early.  We’ve a long day ahead of us.

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Filed under #M1GS, Announcements, Cops, Direct Action, Free Speech, Jaime, NLG, Party time!, Radical Reference, Solidarity

This is a Thing

Last fall, Edward Winski replaced Tony Bologna as head of downtown state-sanctioned Occupation harassment.  He’s been a pox upon our house tent.

And, despite the opinions of the “get a job!” hecklers, we have a lot of well-read, creative, hardworking folks in the Occupation.  Which means that things like this happen:

Lyrics are here, for those who can’t hear it.

I appreciate stuff like this much more than I do, say, doxing him, which is also a thing that happened.  Though, turns out that he writes his Amazon reviews in all caps with no punctuation, which makes my librarian heart cry.

[ETA: Further, if anyone even tries to give the video's makers a hard time about copyright, you'll be facing the wrath of a bunch of folks who really know what they're talking about, so maybe you shouldn't even try.  Just sayin'.]

[Additional ETA: I've since learned that one of our more fabulous librarians was in on the creation of this gem!  Clearly, one should not fuck with librarians.]

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Filed under Art, Cops, Jaime, Media, Music, Video

This is Relevant to Our Interests

I love it when bits of information come together serendipitously.  This morning the ALA sent me an email and a friend made a Facebook post, and now you all have a (potentially) useful blog post about…

PRIVACY ON THE INTERNET!

Anyhow, the ALA alerted me to Choose Privacy Week, being held May 1-7.  They say,

We live in an age when knowledge is power. New technologies give us unprecedented access to information. They also facilitate surveillance, with the power to collect and mine personal information.

People enjoy the convenience of having information at their fingertips. But most people don’t realize the trade off. For example, citizens turn a blind eye to the fact that online searches create traceable records that make them vulnerable to questioning by the FBI, or that government agencies can track their phone calls, airline travel, online purchases, and more.

As political activists, we are probably a little more aware of these problems than the average citizenry, even if we don’t really know what to do about it.  Since some of our comrades have started getting visits from the authorities, maybe we should lend the issue a little more thought.

Anyway, there’s this: DuckDuckGo.  A librarian friend brought it to my attention this morning.  It’s a search engine that claims to offer pretty good privacy (friend says, “No saved and reported searches, no IP addresses, no sent and stored cookies, and no ads. Plus it’s adorable.”).  It also seems to return search results that are nearly as good as, if not as good as, Google’s.

Now, I don’t know how true these claims are, but my computer-y folks seem to think it’s pretty good — one programmer friend uses it as his default search tool, but notes that since large swaths of the rest of the internet uses Google Analytics or Ads, you still have to deal with being tracked from that end. A public librarian friend says she recommends it to patrons who are doing “sensative” or “potentially illegal” searching.

Anyway, I wanted to throw that out there and crowd-source a bit.  If you’ve never heard of it, give it a whirl.  Those who’ve used it, what do you think?  And, does anyone know of other, similarly useful tools?

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Filed under Cops, Cyberspace, Education, Free Speech, Jaime, Reference, Technology

The Sad Story of Five Imprisoned Children’s Books

On Tuesday, January 24th about 20 people met at the Red Cube down by Liberty Plaza to march in solidarity with the People’s Library to One Police Plaza to retrieve five children’s books (a few of which were Spanish-English language books) the NYPD took from librarians back in the beginning of December. Many of us thought the trek would probably take a while due to police bureaucracy but none of us for once thought we’d walk away empty handed. After all we had the receipts. And we had one of the “unidentified white male” librarians (me) that were in the park that evening and are in the park on a regular basis. Long story short, we went to One Police Plaza, I was the only person allowed into the building as I was the one with the receipt. My fellow occupier cohorts were lucky to have stayed behind, as the NYPD took my photo using facial recognition software upon entering the building, they made copies of my ID, they radioed to officers throughout the building, “WARNING: THERE IS AN OCCUPIER ENTERING THE BUILDING.” At every turn officers commanded me to stop, then allowed me to continue on my journey, an eerie continual reminder that I was being watched and I was in the heart of the police state.

Finally I made it to the bottom of One Police Plaza and waited to meet the clerk working the Reclaim Property desk. Once I finally presented my papers, the clerk explained the computer was slow as molasses and I should expect to wait awhile. Eight minutes later the clerk looked up and asked me who the books belonged to.
They’re everybody’s… I mean they’re mine,” I replied…. the clerk explained that the cases information had popped up! Then glared as she told me I couldn’t take the books, “since you have the invoice receipts, it suggests the books probably do belong to you, but because the officer wrote on the paperwork ‘unidentified white male’ we can’t give them to you. We just want to make sure the books go to the right person.” –Oh I understood!

“But”, I retorted, “I’ve been heavily involved with the People’s Library. It’s really easy to prove this fact…”

The clerk looked up and gave me a long stern look before further explaining, “We just want to make sure the books get to the rightful owner. This invoice suggests the books were left on the bench and that they don’t necessarily belong to anybody. Let me tell you what I’m going to do… I’m going to contact the officer that collected the books and we will send him a copy of your ID and if he indeed validates your claim, you can collect the books, okay.”

From behind the clerk I heard a loud cackle, and then a detective appeared and exclaimed in a heavy Brooklyn accent, “Like an NYPD Officer is going to remember someone’s face!”

As oddly and quickly as the detective appeared, they disappeared. The clerk acted like nothing happened, smiled and asked for my ID. I presented my ID, realizing this was the third time during the trip NYPD recorded my information. Once my information was AGAIN collected, the clerk gave me the officers contact information, suggested I too try to contact the officer, she explained the officer was from the Bron, the NYPD has been deploying officers from every Borough to watch the park, then again she gave me a long cold look as she handed me back the paperwork.

On 12/05/2011 at 10:44pm The NYPD gave a librarian the invoice for the five children’s books seized:
“AT TPO UNK MALE WHITE DID PLACE THESE BOOKS ON A PARK BENCH I/O OF ZUCOTTI PARK AND REFUSED TO PICK THEM UP. THE ABOVE ITEMS ARE BEING VOUCHERED FOR SAFEKEEPING.”

What actually happened?

A few of our librarians were in the park that evening with a handful of books with them. By the beginning of December, the People’s Library librarians understood loud and clear that NYPD and Brookfield Security did not want to see books in the park. Two days after the park was violently raided and everything was cleared out, fifteen officers came and took away around 200 copies of books that people had brought into the park in solidarity. Every day after that, Brookfield Security and NYPD changed their story, one day they’d let us bring in carts of books, the next day they’d let us set up on the bench, the next day no books would be permitted, the next day we could put books on the tables, a vicious continuum of police state brutality. Instead of NYPD officers ever acting supportive of our attempts to give out free books, they continually used fear tactics and changed their story making it impossible for us to ever feel safe (when that is supposed to be the reason our tax payer dollars ensure they’re able to support their families). So on December 5th, a few of the OWS librarians were in the park with a small collection of books, 5 children books were on the bench that used to house The People’s Library. Officers approached a librarian and threatened arrest and the removal of the books. When the librarian backed off, the officer took the books. An hour later officers approached librarians that were in the park and delivered us the invoice to retrieve the books.

Currently I’m working on validating myself to the NYPD so I can get these books back. Either I will be validated and they’ll give me back the books or we’re going to need to gather a large crowd and go cause a big scene in front of One Police Plaza.

This is America. Books must never be imprisoned! You can watch the action on Jan. 24th, 2012 to get the books back on this livestream link.

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Filed under Announcements, Cops, Direct Action

So, That Happened..

It seems to be the phrase of the Occupation, and especially apt in the past week or so.

There was the Law & Order set thing.  In case you missed it, dear readers, Law and Order: SVU built a fake occupy camp in Foley Square last week, as a set for an episode.  It had tents, a kitchen, a library, police presence, all that stuff.  Of course, the real occupiers found it, and, late on Thursday night, occupied it.  I ask you — did they think we wouldn’t?  You can find info on twitter and elsewhere about it under the hash tag #mockupy.  Mother Jones has a short article on it, with video featuring some of the real librarians from the People’s Library.

A while back we instituted an infrequently-used hand signal at library meetings to go with all the up-sparkling, down-sparkling, points of process, and so forth: the clarifying mustache.  You take the curved pointer finger part of the clarifying question signal and put it over your upper lip.  It means that things have gotten completely ridiculous, and we all need to take a Dada break.  With the mockupation, the universe seems to have gotten on board with it, no?

In amongst the absurdity is the former location of the People’s Library in Zuccotti Park.  In the first few days after the eviction last month, the people’s librarians were persistent in reopening the library.  Over and over and over again.  We were some of the first folks back in the park that morning — until we were kicked out again — and we’ve since had as much presence as the NYPD and Brookfield security dudes will allow on any given day.  Recently that hasn’t been much.

A couple weeks ago the security dudes put up some red cloth “Danger!” tape between the trees in the northeast corner of the park, blocking off the benches where the Library used to be.  The official reason was to protect the brand new ornamental cabbages that Brookfield had planted in the garden area above the benches.  Cabbages that they had to tear out the existing bushes to plant, let me add.  If you think that sounds completely ridiculous, take a moment to make the clarifying mustache signal with me.

After we spent some time scratching our heads, and occasionally disregarding the red tape — it was, after all, blocking off a good portion of the seating in the park — the absurdity increased.  We got this:

See, among us persistent librarians, there’s one particularly persistent librarian.  For the terrible crime of bringing books into the park he’s been bum rushed by a score of cops and nearly arrested, had some of the books confiscated, and, now, been banned from the park.  The above document is the result of the confiscation.  After those five very dangerous books were taken — we are told that one may not put books on the bench, because it prevents people from sitting there — the police delivered this kind note to the park.  Not to the Library or to a librarian, but just to the park, asking that it be passed along to Library.  Now, I know that’s more or less how it work here on the movement side of things, but I’m pretty sure the cops’ rules require them to be a little more diligent than that.

Since then, the red tape blocking off the former location of the People’s Library has been replaced by authentic yellow “Crime Scene Do Not Cross” cop tape.  (Someone should confiscate that, it’s preventing me from sitting on the bench.)  Do you have that clarifying mustache ready?  Because I know we joke a bunch about how the City has been making books illegal, but someone obviously lacks in the irony department; how else to explain the utter tone-deafness of this whole thing?

Anyway, for once the NYPL has taken good care of our confiscated stuff.  Which means we’ll surely be making the trip up to 1 Police Plaza to reclaim it shortly.  I hope you’ll join us.

In the mean time, at least the current Christmas light overkill on all the trees in Zuccotti throws off enough glow to read by?

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Filed under Cops, Direct Action, Jaime, Literature, Process