The eviction of Occupy Albany

occupy albany tent on state street

Occupy Albany took its protest on the road. Literally.

Updated Friday evening

Following the expiration of its permit Thursday morning, Occupy Albany was evicted from Academy Park that afternoon. City of Albany Department of General Services employees dismantled and removed tents as police watched.

Then things went a bit crazy -- Occupiers took their last tent on a tour of the city's streets before returning to the park. That's when police grabbed the last tent, the scene became chaotic, there was pepper spray, and a few arrests.

Here's a photo log of what we saw.

On this page, jump to:
+ Man tries to have tent taken down around him
+ Tent goes mobile and tours city streets
+ Man taken down for not getting out of he way of a saw
+ Tent at State and Pearl
+ APD takes tent and pepper spray used
+ Comments from Jerry Jennings Friday morning
+ APD statement
+ Occupy Albany statement

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Occupiers gathered around their information tent in an attempt to stop it from being taken down.

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Tim Pool, who was livestreaming video from the scene online. Pool has become famous for his video streaming from Occupy Wall Street. [Fast Company]

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Mark Mishler, one of Occupy Albany's attorneys, explaining to the crowd that OA's request to keep the information tent -- unoccupied overnight -- had been denied by the city and a judge.

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A man stood in the second-to-last tent in an attempt to make DGS workers take it down around him. He was eventually asked to leave, and he did so peacefully.

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At this point in the afternoon, the Albany police were mostly just watching from a distance.

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When it came time to take down the information tent, Occupiers picked it up themselves and carried it off toward city hall.

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The tried to get into city hall, but were turned away. A handful of APD officers stood at the door.

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Officers stood at the door calmly while the crowd chanted. The man on the left was giving them an earful.

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So the now-mobile tent headed around the Capitol and up State Street into Center Square.

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They took the tent right up the middle of the street -- where there was traffic. The Occupiers lifted the tent over some of the vehicles.

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Meanwhile, back at Academy Park, a man was refusing to get out of the way of some DGS workers who were using a saw to break apart a platform. There was a verbal confrontation and the man continued to stay in the way of the saw. Police moved in and took the man down.

Update: Here's video of the incident (posted by YouTube user LittlebitOsoul):

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Lark Street.

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Down Washington toward Academy Park.

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A brief stop in Academy Park, and then back on tour, this time down State Street toward Pearl.

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The tent made a brief stop at the intersection of State and Pearl. The APD was accommodating about the mobile tent, escorting it and stopping traffic at intersections. APD spokesman Jimmy Miller told us on the scene that, as a spontaneous protest, the mobile tent may not have been violating any laws. (A planned protest would have required a permit.)

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Pearl Street.

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Past the Palace and up Clinton, eventually back to the park.

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After the tent returned and was set back down, the APD moved in to take it. That's when things became chaotic for a few minutes. Occupiers under the tent, trying to move it away. Police pulling on it. A mounted officer trying to move people away from the tent. The tent and its frame got wrapped against a light pole, people stuck underneath it. There were a few scary moments.

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Update: Here's livestream video from Tim Pool from underneath the tent:

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At some point during the chaos, the APD used pepper spray. This woman had just been sprayed in the face.

Update: Here's video posted on YouTube from the scene (from YouTube user randallcollura). It appears the mounted officer starts spraying at the :38 mark:

We didn't witness what prompted it (we were on the other side of the tent) -- and we heard conflicting stories. Occupiers alleged the mounted officer had just started spraying indiscriminately. Others said the officer had been threatened. It's hard to tell exactly what happened from the videos. (@KGSchlegel says he "witnessed protesters grabbing at the bridle a few moments earlier." Be sure to read his comment posted below.)

Update: Richard Gorleski, the officer who used the spray, told the Times Union Friday that officers were being rushed by protesters as police tried to take the tent: "If I didn't spray a few of those people, someone would have been seriously injured."

Here's another angle (posted by YouTube user TeenVchannel):

You could smell the pepper spray hanging in the air afterward. We noticed a handful of people appeared to be suffering from being sprayed.

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This man also was reportedly sprayed. He appeared to be suffering from sort of shock or seizure -- EMS eventually arrived, treated him, and then took him to the hospital. The Daily Gazette reports he's Anthony Hadden of Schenectady.

A little later a cameraman for WTEN was injured somehow -- apparently he was hit in the back with something. He was also taken away by EMS.

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Talking with the media.

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Mishler addressing the APD's actions. He said "there was nothing to justify" the APD's move on the tent and accused officers of having "brutalized people." "People are outraged and they should be outraged."

Update: Sebastien was there and has posted a very good photoset -- it includes a bunch good closeups and reactions.

Update: Here's a photoset by the Daily Gazette's Patrick Dodson -- it includes a lot of caption information.

There were four people arrested and four injured. [@CapitalTonight]

Occupy Albany says it's returning to the park and will hold one of its general assemblies there Friday. [@occupy_albany]

An APD press conference for tonight, which was to include Jerry Jennings, was cancelled shortly after it was announced.

Update: An attorney for the city told the Times Union that the city had sought an injunction against the protesters using the park because of concerns about safety, specifically "three assaults in the last three to four days."

Update: Here's a snip of Jerry Jennings addressing the events on his weekly call-in show Friday morning on TALK 1300:

"I think we're one city across the country that didn't react the way a lot of cities did. I didn't want anyone hurt, as far as I'm concerned, we did what we had to do. We had a restraining order, we were going to clear the park out, we made that clear. And my concern has been public safety... people representing the group over there, they even admitted, that they couldn't guarantee -- or they didn't report incidents early in this process -- of things that had taken place. As far as I'm concerned, I had to make a decision, they knew what it was long ago. And we wanted to do it as peacefully as possible. We didn't go in there at 3 o'clock, 4 o'clock in the morning. We went in in broad daylight to let people know. And we wanted people to work with us."


Update: Here's a statement from APD:

Based on a court order signed today that prohibits the encampment of Academy Park members of the City's Department of General Services removed all remaining tents and structures within the park. The Albany Police Department stood by as that occurred and monitored the situation. Any protester present today was able to dismantle their tent and remove their belongings. Anyone not present will be able to retrieve their personal items from DGS. All items were tagged so that their rightful owners could retrieve them at a later date.
A canvass mini carport with aluminum tubing was the last remaining structure. Before DGS started to remove it the protesters were allowed to pull it up from it's stakes without any resistance. A large group then carried the tent to the front steps of City Hall and proceed through several city streets for over an hour without any interference. The group then brought the tent back to Academy Park, placed it back down on the ground in direct violation of the court order. Albany police acting pursuant to that order moved into the park to secure the tent. At that time when officers went into the park a large number of protesters resisted the action, obstructed the officers from doing their duty and several became unruly.
Three protesters were arrested at that time bringing the total number of arrests to four during the afternoon and evening. Two individuals were pepper sprayed when they became very aggressive towards officers. Two officers sustained minor injuries during the incident. Two protester also sustained minor injuries. One television photographer sustained a back injury when he was struck in the lower back when filming. It is trying to be determined if he was intentionally struck by one of the protesters or if it was accidental.
The City and the police department has gone to great lengths over the past two months to accommodate the protesters first amendment rights. We were in constant dialogue with representatives of Occupy Albany that included the discussion of health and safety issues of those encamped in the park. The actions taken today were based on a court order and were appropriate. The order does not preclude anyone from continuing to protest in the park at anytime and the City will continue to respect Occupy Albany's right to free speech.
Update: Here's a statement from Occupy Albany about the events from tonight. It argues two of the people pepper sprayed were protesting peacefully.
Albany Police Department Soils Record of Exemplary Handling of Occupy Albany Protestors
ALBANY, NY - December 22, 2011
Shortly before 6:00pm tonight, Albany police department began using force on peaceful protestors. This followed a day of physical dismantling of the Occupy encampment by the Albany Department of General Services.
After several talks between Occupy Albany and the City, in which the City said it would not use force to evict protestors from Academy Park and would notify Occupy Albany before any action were to occur, the Department of General Services, flanked by the police department, entered the encampment this afternoon to remove the tents and all personal belongings of the protestors. When protestors asked for an hour to peacefully clear the site, they were refused and told they had 'five minutes'
Protestors watched as their belongings were shoved into trucks and Occupy Albany hoisted the last remaining tent from the site and carried it to City Hall calling 'Jennings, Jennings, come on out, face the ones that you kicked out!' Protestors were denied entrance to the building by the Albany police department. They then took the streets chanting 'We are unstoppable! A new world is possible!' 'Banks got bailed out! We got sold out!' "We demand you sep-a-rate corporations and the state!' "I'm a person! You're a person! Corporations not a person!" before returning to Academy Park.
While attempting to carry the tent at the park, and without any warning or orders from police officers against it, the Albany police department began forcibly yanking the peaceful protestors and then turned on them with pepper spray. Shanna Goldman and Dave Redbeard, two of the protestors pepper sprayed, confirmed that they were engaging in peaceful actions at the time.
Redbeard says "I was standing with my sign when an officer began shoving me. I was then pepper sprayed moments later. I did not witness anything that would have warranted such a response. There was no violence instigated by anyone other than the police"
Goldman echoed that sentiment saying "I was walking with the tent when they (Police) grabbed me and pulled me down into the crowd and pepper sprayed."
Protestors are condemning the actions of the police force.
"I am utterly dismayed at this breach of trust from the City. We have been betrayed,' says occupier Heather Phillips 'Occupy Albany had been assured that there would be no violent action from the City. The Albany police department went from being the heroes and role-model of the nation to using unwarranted force and resorting to pepper spraying peaceful protestors. This is shameful."
Catherine Ertelt states the only 'riot' she saw "was a police officer on horseback who rode his horse into the crowd sadistically spraying pepper spray, mostly at people standing on the sidewalk. 5 people were taken to the hospital including an ABC camera crew person who appeared to be seriously injured. Cameras were taken from the media, who had been there interviewing people. I saw nothing thrown and noone tried to pull the police officer off his horse. Occupy Albany was going to be moving into an indoor space imminently. This was unnecessary."

The OA statement also included a video clip from underneath the tent. We'll update when it's posted online.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Occupy Albany, two months later
+ Occupy Albany's demand
+ Arrests at Occupy Albany
+ Why they're occupying Albany

Comments

Dude that girl that got sprayed on the face was beating on that horses back leg with her purse THATS why she got sprayed...and the mess they left was ridiculous, they pissed and sh*t all over the place, one fat girl was arrested for crapping on a womans front lawn.When you have to cause damage to an area so the people your "defending" have to spend hard earned money to fix your damage...that causes your "cause" to become null and void.

Really good pics, AOA.

Unbelievable that the city would go to these measures..!

I have to say that compared to the rest of the country, the APD seemed to handle the situation well and were pretty accommodating to the protesters.

So pepper spray was used to disperse some unruly crowd members...at least it wasn't rubber bullets or tear gas.

I am not surprised by the behavior by the APD. It is so scary, but it is happening all over the US. We are waking up and the big gov't is scared, as they should be. We want change, and we're gonna get it. If that means protestors get harmed, and even killed, that may just be the fuel the rest of sleeping-america needs to wake up and join the cause!

The police report says that two people were pepper sprayed? I counted at least 6 in the crowd.

"Dude that girl that got sprayed on the face was beating on that horses back leg with her purse THATS why she got sprayed...and the mess they left was ridiculous, they pissed and sh*t all over the place, one fat girl was arrested for crapping on a womans front lawn.When you have to cause damage to an area so the people your "defending" have to spend hard earned money to fix your damage...that causes your "cause" to become null and void."

Mark is a troll and should be ignored. The woman who was pepper sprayed did not hit the horse.
There was no mess, except when the cops and DGS moved in and started making one. Academy Park was cleaner than it has ever been, until today, when a bunch of cowardly cops came to evict peaceful protestors.

>>Meanwhile, back at Academy Park, a man was refusing to get out of the way of some DGS workers who were using a saw to break apart a platform.

I think they call that Civil Disobedience. Props to that man.

This is great reporting, thank you.

@KGSchlegel was head of the College Republicans at UAlbany, i.e. his tweet about protesters grabbing the bridle should be taken as pro-police propaganda.

Recall that the Republicans are largely the cheerleaders of the financial deregulation, corporate welfare and refusal to tax the super-rich that makes the Occupy movement necessary.

WOW! That's nuts. Great pics AOA.

Great recap (BTW Greg, the tent traveled about 3.2 miles). Now I was on the other side of the tent too when the spraying occurred but I'm doubtful Shanna, who is probably 5 feet tall, would try to beat the *back* legs of one of these two beasts. A *lot* of photos and videos were taken tonight, maybe we will know, maybe we won't. Here is how I saw it today, but that's just one angle...

Ditto on the great reporting. AOA left the mainstream media in the dust. Thanks.

Great job -- better than most of the coverage we got from local newspapers and TV.

Many of us saw the event unfold on social media -- and a real standout was Tim Pool, aka Timcast http://www.ustream.tv/timcast , whose continuous live feed was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen.


Great pics AOA. And nice job APD. The whole peaceful protest is meaningless. Half the people there have no idea what they are protesting. Nothing is going to change by hanging out in a park with tents. If you want real change, vote for people who will change things. Dont disrupt society. It's pointless, and you all look like fools. The general public might be the 99%, but you guys are the 1% of the 99% who everyone laughs at. Thankfully this debacle is over.

@Rob: One of the photos above is of Tim Pool -- I forgot to caption it last night.

Why can't people just have a difference if opinion? Why must we always classify the other argument as "propaganda"? And Brandice, I am a little scared by your comment about casualties possibly being needed in order for people to "wake up".

@Concerned Citizen: Not sure where you ever heard that I was the "head" of the College Republicans at any time, because that is factually incorrect.

I happen to work in an office on Elk Street and was still around when the tent was brought back to the park. From there I wasn't able to see much since there were a large number of people, but the horse, being high above the crowd, was obviously drawing my attention - particularly as the officer went in for the tent the first time. Yes, I witnessed individuals grabbing at and some getting a hold of the bridle, I can only assume in an attempt to prevent the mounted officer from progressing into the crowd and grabbing the tent again. Unfortunately I don't quite know when this matches up with the pepper spray being used - I didn't even realize it had until I checked twitter. Frankly, at the time, I was most concerned that the horse was going to end up kicking somebody with the way it was being crowded, yelled at, and grabbed. It didn't seem, from my view, that the protestors I witnessed grabbing and reaching were intending to pull the officer down; I don't think that excuses the behavior of those people, however.

I can also say that at no point did I witness anybody beating the back of the horse, and I think something like that would have stood out to many more people (you're basically asking to get the business end of the hoof if you're doing that).

I think this whole thing got out of hand and could have been avoided but what's done is done. I do however find the comment calling the cops cowards AWFUL! They are one of you, the 99%. They work terrible hours for crappy pay. Maybe that cop on the horse was told he had to stop you. He's probably got a family to feed and a job to keep. The verbal harassment of the DGS guys was ridiculous on those tapes. Direct your complaints at the right people and lay off the blue collar guys doing their jobs! If you want this movement to spread stop alienating your brothers.

A very nice collection of photos. Thanks for including the youtube video from TeenVchannel. It clearly shows the events leading up to the pepper spraying. Occupy should internally investigate who it was who grabbed the horse's bridle and who was placing their hands on the horse's face.

They need to either ostracize them or give the metals.

Looks like a lot of tent worship to me.

The police, so long as they wear their uniforms, are not part of the 99%. In fact, they are, while on duty and deployed against non-violent protesters, agents primarily of the 1%. This has been the case throughout American history, going back to Shays Rebellion in 1786 (in that case it was the army being used to disperse the protesters). In any case, as our economic and political circumstances grow more dire (which they will of course, especially once the Euro is done imploding), more of the critics will realize that the Occupiers were right.

@C: "crappy pay?" What planet are you inhabiting? They get loads of overtime and index their pensions to the final three years of their careers (where they are paid the most AND get the lucrative overtime).

Those of you who worship the police do so uncritically: the police are the most militarized that they have ever been, and as they have received new toys and techniques (compliments of Department of Homeland Security for all of the terrorists supposedly lurking around every street corner), they use them on the public. Now they will be used, thanks to NDAA, to indefinitely detain American citizens without a trial. But the police are your friends...

Here’s my analysis.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Awv7uDdpP9I
45 - Unknown protester grabs the horse's bridle causing its head to jerk
52 - Cop retrieves pepper spray from pouch after backing horse up
58-62 - Female protester holds her hand on the horse's face causing its head to jerk
62 - Horse is maneuvered away from female protester as she is sprayed
67 - Targeted pepper spraying of individual protesters starts

I guess the Metroland's Local Heros article spoke a little too soon.

Cincinnatus, police willingly put their lives on the line every single day. So even if they were swimming in gold like Scrooge McDuck (which they aren't), I'm okay with that.

Constructive criticism: you lose credability when you make everything out to be a grand conspiracy.

Tim, good analysis. I support the OWS movement no one should have touched that horse. The bridle pull at 0:45 is very difficult to see. I personally think that point may be questionable. But, its clear around 1:00 that people have touched the horse and upset the horse.

ugh. these people are as tedious and annoying as the TeaBaggers.
How is it these people (of ALL ideologies) have the time to be out squawking and not be working? Most of them look able bodied and healthy enough (not to mention have an ample supply of bottled water, at least as shown in these pics)....
yeah, I get it I get it...right to congregate, voice an opinion etc. TeaBaggerss:.blah blah we pay a lot in taxes Occupiers: blah blah, the country is skewed wealth is concentrated at the top.

I fail to see how camping out in a public park for days on end affects change.

@Arielle: There is no conspiracy, and what I have argued is plain to see if you are willing to read a little bit.

Constructive Criticism: you lose credibility when you refuse to see what is evident. You are naive to trust in human nature and the goodwill of authority.

The police are not under-compensated, you just lack the willingness to look at the true cost of their employment. In addition to the evidence already provided above, see the retiree health insurance benefits for Albany PD (and fire for that matter). They are the best in the State of New York and completely bankrupting our City.

If you don't believe me about the militarization of the police nationwide, just follow the money trail from DHS to local police departments around the country (public information--hardly a conspiracy), and it is obvious that the police have become militarized. See http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/12/20/local-cops-ready-for-war-with-homeland-security-funded-military-weapons.html

If you are referring to my NDAA commentary, that is based on the new legislation, which President Obama will sign into law, and codifies the practices of the past ten years on the part of the American Government against citizens and non-citizens alike. The escalation is the codification of these practices, as reported this week on Democracy Now.

> no one should have touched that horse

Just curious, what do you think these horses are made of? Porcelain? It's the *mounted police*, not a fine, race-horse parade. The purpose of these huge horses *is* crowd control, a way to intimidate people and disperse protesters by using them as a wedge. They are trained for that. So yeah, if it is coming at me and I can't get out of the way, or if it is going to trample my buddy, chances are, I'll "touch that horse", if that's OK with you...

So, let me get this straight:

You bring a large animal into a raucous crowd, and when the animal gets frightened, you pepper spray the crowd?

Something doesn't make sense here...

how does it make sense to try and grab a 1,200 pound animal?! the horse is basically a cop, the same thing would have happened if it was a police dog and its partner.
Don't think for a second that, oh its just an animal.
That animal is there doing a job as much as the people are.
And how dare you speak about the cops like that. They are professionals, they are paid to deal with this stuff and were doing their jobs. If someone stands in the way of them doing something they have the right to remove that person.
No one is above the law

What it comes down to is "Did this action change anyone's mind?" You're still out of the park, people are still talking about your actions versus your cause. All you did was endanger yourselves and those whose jobs brought them there. Fire your PR person because, again another PR disaster

I shouldn't say fire your PR. You might have fantastic PR but aren't listening to them. If you want change you will need public support. Over and over you feed the stereotypes and ostracize the majority of the 99%. Why the Occupy movements cannot see that I do not understand. It makes it look like you don't really want change, just attention.

@astor (and others like this person):
"And how dare you speak about the cops like that"
Stop pitching the (so-called) moral and upright nonsense that you think people want to hear. Anyone can call the authorities and the law into question, as it is our right to do so. In fact, our ability and willingness to do just that is what gives the law legitimacy so that it is willingly followed rather than blindly obeyed.

"No one is above the law." Would you extend that dictum to the Police themselves? Does that apply to authoritarian laws throughout the world, and include circumstances like the Jim Crow South, and British India?

The point of the Occupy Movement is to show just how inflexible and ostrich-like our politics, our economics, and our society really are given the structural (some would say systemic) crises we are collectively facing. That is why there are no demands: the Movement at this point has been demonstrative, an alarm clock going off that society can only hit the snooze button on for so long. The purpose of institutions such as the police and the military are to uphold an order that is losing legitimacy in the eyes of many both here and around the world, and seems unable to hold things together save through dull habit and brute force.

You will, eventually, be forced to pick a side.

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