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Arrested with Occupy Sacremento

 Homeward Street Journal - USA 14 November 2019

The Occupy movement has been characterised by, amongst other things, its peaceful nature. This hasn’t prevented the police from making arrests. This personal account tells of the journey from peaceful protest to ‘downtown’. (1482 Words) - By Tracie Rice-Bailey

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Protester dressed as a character from V for Vendetta (Portrait picture - Download to see full image).Photo: Tamie Dramer

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Cesar Chavez Park – Occupy Sacramento’s Base. Photo: Paula Lomazzi

Homeward_Cesar Chavez Park

Cesar Chavez Park – Occupy Sacramento’s Base. Photo: Paula Lomazzi

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Occupy Sacramento Marching to the banks.Photo: Homeward Street Journal


On Saturday night, October 8, 2019, 14 people chose to occupy Cesar Chavez Park in Downtown Sacramento, USA. What is meant by OCCUPY in this case was to stay in the Park, after closing, in an attempt to exercise our 1st Amendment right to peacefully assemble.

But let me backtrack. From Saturday morning until that night Police stayed in and around Cesar Chavez Park as the people were peacefully gathering. As more people gathered, more police seemed to appear. We marched together to the Banks, chanting things like,  "Banks got bailed out -  we got sold out!" - "Show me what Democracy looks - This is what Democracy looks like!" -  "We are the 99%" - and the likes. The Police were with us every step of the way, at every stop light, they even waited while we sat outside the Wells Fargo Bank. It seemed very odd to me that such a peaceful demonstration needed so much Police coverage.

At midnight, those of us who chose to stay sat holding signs in the entrance of the Park at the corner of 9th and J streets. It wasn't long before the police rolled up with lights on, one on a bull-horn advising us that we were unlawfully assembling, they called it a Riot Zone and advised us they would use bodily harm, chemical and other means necessary. They just kept coming car after car, riot officer after riot officer: 9th Street between I and J was completely blocked off with their vehicles - and there were plenty of vehicles. The Riot Squad, in full gear with clubs in hand, one holding a drawn weapon, circled the group of 14 protesting Occupiers.

I watched as protesters were arrested, one by one. It took three Officers for each arrest. It was intimidating sitting there, surrounded by the riot squad, police everywhere. We gathered encouragement and support from other 99%ers who were chanting from outside the Park, and making sure we had video coverage of the entire event. This helped a lot more than I can imagine.

I stood up as three officers approached. (I was the 14th of 14 to be arrested that night.) The female officer read to me what I call the riot act, which consists of them informing you that should you go limp, they would in no way pick you up or carry you, rather they would first go for pressure points. After that, they would use whatever force necessary to arrest you, but again, they would not pick you up or carry you at all. Then they asked would you please stand and allow them to arrest you. Of course the answer was a yes, as it was in all the arrests before mine.

I was cuffed and taken to the temporary police office on 9th Street. This was created by lining police vehicles on either side of the street while blocking the entrance at I Street. There were at least 2 paddy wagons in the middle of the street, there were CSI vans too. It was amazing, again I thought of the excessive misuse of resources when the budget is so badly broken. We were booked in the street, one by one, photos taken by Polaroid, each with a number at the bottom.. They then took us in a van to the County Jail which is on 7th and I Streets, only three blocks from where we were Occupying.

The jail was incredible. Officers were certainly letting us know how much we were costing the system, blaming the protesters rather than our City Officials for this incredible waste of resources.

We went through the process handcuffed, taking off our shoes and socks one at a time and passing them back to be examined. They made me take out my dentures to be sure I had nothing under them. My pockets and jacket were examined yet again. We went to see a medical person to be checked, so I told her I would need medication in the morning. We were put into a holding cell with two phones on the wall where we could make calls out, but none in. This room was pretty clean - though I didn't care for the open stainless steel toilet.

From the holding room, we were taken and fingerprinted then taken to the nastiest room I had seen in ages. Toilet paper and empty rolls on the floor, filthy sink. On the sink was an open milk carton with a half eaten peanut butter sandwich. Stuffed behind it, there was an empty tube of something as well. On the floor there were full and partly eaten sandwiches with open and un-opened milk cartons, as well as dirty jail clothes and shoes. The floor was cement and it was cold to try to rest on. There are only a few benches and not much room to sit for all the ladies who were waiting to be released. In the morning, I was with the first group to be released, and was thankful to be free again.

On Saturday, October 15, 2019, the entire world joined in the Occupations of the many Cities nationwide. This day would bring my 2nd arrest for the movement. Getting arrested for a good cause is a good thing, and I am proud to say that we were arrested with Cindy Sheehan.

I was in and out of the Park for the day, and had decided that I had to volunteer to make a difference for this movement. After all, this was World Occupy Day - the beginning of World-wide participation in a movement that is not going away any too soon. There was a march to the Capitol with a sit-in of around 1,000 participants.

Cindy Sheehan arrived around 1:30 or so, she spoke to an attentive crowd. I was excited to hear her speak and to know that she stood with us. The speech is posted all over facebook for those of you who want to hear it.

There was much going on at Occupy Sacramento at Cesar Chavez Park during the day, as everyday. There are rallies, marches, teach-ins, (with professional volunteers), music and the arts, food, and on and on. Most food is donated and the classes are free. This is how it should be.

Again, I left the park for a while. I had to go take a nap and prepare myself for an arrest if necessary. Ready for whatever the night held, I returned to the park around 8:30 or 9:00. There were a few meetings, mostly about clean-up and the like. There were meetings about the risk of arrest and what to expect.

Again, the clock struck 12 and all bets were off.

Things happened same as last time, only this time 10th Street was blocked off and used for a booking office. We were hauled off to jail once again. One 65 year old woman got arrested for the first time in her life and her wrists were bruised the next day from the handcuffs. But her spirits were incredibly high, all things considered.

Like I said, things went as before, midnight struck, the riot squad surrounded the protesters, we were arrested one by one, taken to the County jail, pictures taken, fingerprinted, held and released. The difference here was that Cindy Sheehan sat with us and she was the last person arrested, her first arrest in California. She said our jail was the worst she has ever been in. We all had to agree it was pretty bad. The release tank was unsanitary and plain filthy with toilet paper, food, dirty clothes and trash on the floor. We were all glad to be released in the morning - freedom is a beautiful thing and our City is trying to deny us our Constitutional freedoms.

Can anyone besides me see the blatant waste of resources here? Spending thousands of tax dollars arresting and releasing folks, in an economy that is riddled with recent budget cuts and falling apart at the seams, simply to stop concerned citizens from organizing and participating in true democracy.

On the following Tuesday, October 18, 2019, Occupy Sacramento and their supporters showed up at City Hall in force yet again. Occupy Sacramento was on the agenda, and was the last thing on the agenda. The Council Chambers were filled to capacity, folks stood outside waiting to get a seat. Over forty protesters spoke to the Council.  In the end, the Council decided to talk about this at another time. Needless to say, there was another mass arrest after the fruitless Council meeting. I wanted to risk arrest yet again, but my broken body would not allow. I live in intense pain these days and the pain was such that I could not risk being hurt more by the handcuffs and the cold cement floor of the jail this time.

Occupy Sacramento began its occupation in Cesar Chavez Park (10th & J Streets, downtown Sacramento) on October 6 in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement. SafeGround Sacramento's board voted to stand in solidarity with Occupy Sacramento. SHOC and Safe Ground have had tables at the occupation and members have participated in activities. If you want to get involved, just go to the park and read the schedule of events. Currently, General Assemblies are at 5:30 pm every day and are very interesting to attend to see what direct and real democracy looks like.

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