Full disclosure: I am probably the person in the world least likely to care about Occupy Wall Street. The only time I’ve really thought about it up until this point was to consider the fact that bongo drums are unbelievably annoying when I go to the Financial District. I spend more time thinking about I’d make it across the ice if Bane took over (ice skates). However, yesterday, my good friend Molly Crabapple – who, in addition to being a talented artist and the founder of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, is a person who does care about Occupy Wall Street – got arrested. After hearing what the conditions are like, I feel like maybe we should all care, or at least care about people being really arbitrarily arrested. I’ll let Molly take it from here:
Molly, two nights ago we were eating profiteroles, and the next morning you were arrested. What happened?
Molly: I was going out with my friends for the one year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, a movement I’ve been very involved in. I am the biggest wuss ever, so always stay to sidewalks and never imagine I’ll be arrested (though I have all the admiration in the world for my brave friends who do civil disobedience). I can’t talk about the details of my arrest, but it was utterly unprovoked, and with no warning.
Do you think the police were overzealous because it was the anniversary?
Yes. They set up checkpoints all over lower Manhattan. There were hundreds and hundreds of officers, aggressively shutting down streets. The police do far more to disrupt traffic than the most enthusiastic black bloc protester could ever hope to.
Did you try to protest or explain that it seemed unprovoked when the police arrested you?
I told the officer several times that the arrest was unprovoked, but he didn’t respond or meet my eyes. Officers in demonstrations are often on autopilot. I did notice (and my cellmates confirmed) that women are especially targeted.
Did you see any more violent arrests?
I saw police pulling female protesters by their arms off the pavements – almost as if they were trying to guide them across the street – and then, when they were in the street, cuffing them unprovoked. In jail, I met elderly nurses, a white-haired priest, numerous legal observers, and accredited journalists.
What exactly were they being arrested FOR?
You actually don’t find out until you’re let out of jail 11-40 hours later. Often it would be “disorderly conduct” or “obstructing traffic”, which are decent catchalls that are easy for police to falsify.
What did they tell you was the cause of your arrest?
I can’t say. I need to take to my lawyer about that
What were the conditions like in jail?
You’re in a freezing cold, 5 x 5 room with four other women. There’s a padded bench, that’s just enough for three of you to uncomfortably sit on, a toilet, and a sink that doesn’t work. When you want to use the bathroom, the other girls line up in front of you to screen you from the male guards who are walking past. For food, we got four slices of stale bread, a packet of mayo, and two glasses water.