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.