Alexander Penley Nicholas Thommen Eric Marchese
More background on the OWS/”Black Bloc” “FTP” riot this past weekend.
Original story can be found here: http://citizenjournalistdotorg.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/two-arrested-after-nyc-ows-black-bloc-ftp-march/
While receiving broad local coverage, most of the MSM seemed to miss the OWS connection, despite the fact that the OWS involvement of at least two of the arrestees was easily ascertainable.
Alexander Penley and Nicholas Thommen were charged with assault on a police officer, menacing and inciting to riot after allegedly using a metal pipe to push back several cops in the Astor Place coffee clash Saturday night.
As we had noted, both Alexander Penley, 41, and Nicholas Thommen, 30, had connections with OWS; in fact, they were described on OWS twitter accounts as “organizers”. Twitter accounts also noted the “march” was full of OWS members. Additionally, OWS “jail support” was provided, and providing bail for the two men was discussed.
Both Penley and Thommen had prior records, despite Penley being an attorney. The New York Daily News noted:
Penley, who lives on the upper West Side, was charged 20 years ago with a entering a restricted area at a military facility in Boise, Idaho, the source said.
He also has arrests for marijuana possession with intent to distribute in Utah, for burglary, trespassing and vandalism in California and for failure to show up in court on a resisting arrest charge in Oregon.
Despite this prior arrest and charge of assault on a police officer, Penley was released without bail.
Penley can be seen on this “Occupii” page upon which he posted a video on the “Black Bloc tactics-10 Quick points”. http://occupii.org/profile/AlexanderPenley
Thommen also had prior arrests, in his home state of Oregon for driving with a revoked license, marijuana possession and harassment over the telephone, the source said. Thommen was held on $1000 bail.
The third man, Eric Marchese, 24, had a prior arrest in New Jersey for “improper behavior”, a disorderly persons offense.
Anarchist Book Fair and Judson Church:
We noted in our prior article that there were flyers given out for the march at the Anarchist Book Fair at Judson Church, and asked the question why would a church allow that.
Judson Church has housed various Occupy events, as well as Occupiers themselves, after they were evicted from Zuccotti Park. OWS allocated regular money payments to Judson as well as other churches who were housing Occupiers.
Lee Stranahan notes more on Alexander Penley and on some of the “talks” that one could have attended at the Book Fair at Judson. http://leestranahan.com/page/2
These talks included:
Self-defense and street combat for anarchists… – Sunday, 4:15-5:45pm Judson Assembly Room
J. “G.” J.
will provide a basic overview of offense and defense when dealing with recalcitrant fascists and/or pig police. We will deal with holds, strikes, traps and disarming techniques. No prior martial arts experience is necessary. The techniques are simple and effective, derived from the Yip family Wing Chun lineage (invented by a womyn, for wimmin and slight-bodied people). Anyone with experience, ideas and techniques of their own are welcome and encouraged to share! Come prepared to move, and preferably with someone you trust to work with. I try to make this as fun and non-triggering as possible! *appropriate for teens.
In all of this anarchist approach, we can see the nature of an altered reality. It is the view of the imagined police state that somehow will be negated by smashing windows and running through the streets. Where even children can be brought to the fray.
While we have seen OWS utilize “black bloc” most notably in Oakland prior to this past weekend, it hadn’t been a big part of the action in NYC.
However, OWS NYC has a “working group” called the “OWS Black Knights” who in their description describe themselves as “black bloc” (as well as Black Panther and Marine). This group has even requested funding for black clothing and capes, for their “security” role. Hard to know how much of that is hyperbole; there is no evidence that anyone involved in that working group has been involved in anything illegal. http://www.nycga.net/groups/ows-black-knights/events/
However, what is clear is as May 1 and the summer approaches, OWS will be trying to ramp up what action they can to get people’s attention. With “black bloc” which is as much an attitude as a tactic, OWS may be in for a rough summer of confrontation and a very unreceptive public.
Two men were arrested last evening after what appeared to be a large crowd of people dressed in black vandalized the neighborhood between Astor Place and Tompkins Square Park and a police sergeant was assaulted with a lead pipe.
OWS live streamer Tim Pool reported about the action on livestream, although he was not able to get actual footage of the vandalism.
You can see his video here:
Reportedly, a “black bloc” group of people formed after the Anarchist Book Fair at Judson Church (a place which hosts OWS events and has housed OWS members). Pool noted, “a text has gone out”, and “we were late arriving”. The bloc moved to around Astor Place and ended at Tompkins Square Park near the 6th Street Community Center, where there was to be an after party for the book fair. On the way, the group went on a rampage of vandalism, tipping garbage cans, spray painting anarchist graffiti, and smashing windows, including a 7-11 window. They chanted ”fuck the NYPD”, “cops are murderers,” and “all pigs must die.”
An NYPD spokesman said that officers received a report around 9 p.m. that a “disorderly group” had gathered in front of the Starbucks at Lafayette and Astor Place.A video transmission detailing that an officer needed assistance followed, and police found “individuals hitting the window of the establishment.” When a sergeant attempted to intervene and make an arrest, “the crowd became unruly,” and he was allegedly struck with a metal pipe by two men. The officer sustained minor injuries to his hands and knees, and was taken to a local hospital before being released. The two men fled.
The NYPD’s press release referred to the group as “anarchist related” and the two men were among a group of 25 who fought with police and who had tried to use eight-foot-long galvanized metal pipes to smash windows of a Starbucks at Astor Place and Lafayette Street at 8:45 p.m.” The police also claim that patrons of Starbucks were hiding under the tables during the incident.
The night’s events, according to a city anarchist legal worker named Marcus@mcompost, were part of a “very loosely organized anti-police protest” or an “NYC FTP(Fuck the Police)” march. According to Marcus, he witnessed bottles flying – “These folks are making oo(Occupy Oakland) look like a bunch of hippies! so many bottles”. He also noted the attempt to “de-arrest” someone:
Marcus was thereafter chastised for speaking about the action by well known Occupier Justin Stone Diaz:
What is a “black bloc”?
Here is Wikipedia’s general answer as to the meaning of “Black Bloc“:
A black bloc is a tactic for protests and marches, whereby individuals wear black clothing, scarves, ski masks, motorcycle helmets with padding, or other face-concealing items.[...] The clothing is used to avoid being identified, and to, theoretically, appear as one large mass, promoting solidarity.
Black Bloc protests first came about in the 80s in Europe and were a part of the anti-World Trade Organization demonstrations in Seattle in 1999. Protest techniques are disruptive and volatile. They include rioting, vandalism and fighting as well as assistance to fellow protesters in fleeing police.
Occupy Oakland has a very active “black bloc” contingent that has been responsible for a lot of violence and vandalism during marches. OWS has also held ”FTP” marches. At one such march, Occupiers broke into the city hall, vandalized the building, and burnt an American flag on the steps:
After the march last night made it to the Tompkins Square Park area (near the 6th St Community Center and the after party), the group reportedly took off the black and disappeared into the regular crowd of people. However there were reports of more bottles being thrown at police and that was when the two arrests actually occurred.
Alexander Penley, 41, and Nicholas Thommen, 30, were arrested for allegedly assaulting the police sergeant with the pipe during the earlier action at the Starbucks at Astor Place. They were charged with assaulting a police officer, menacing, criminal possession of a weapon, resisting arrest, and inciting a riot.
Penley is an attorney and has been an organizer with the Occupy Wall Street movement since the fall. Thommen has also been very active with Occupy.
Update: NY Post notes more of the event including that a NYPD lieutenant was also injured and a third person, Eric Marchese, 24, was arrested in the process of trying to smash a window. http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/panic_as_anti_government_goons_smash_23aHRRaT5TKyArG1amxweI#ixzz1s9DzDAx6
Update: MSM catches up-a little. MSM finally notes the OWS connection, as Metro NY notes Occupier presence and that “during the scuffle, several police officers were assaulted with pipes, bottles, and physical force, cops said”. http://www.metro.us/newyork/comment/article/1140328–anarchists-occupy-wall-street-members-arrested-after-trying-to-smash-windows-at-east-village-starbucks
Update: Apparently, notices for the FTP march were handed out at the Anarchist Book Fair at the Judson Church. One has to wonder why the Church would condone such behavior.