Despite wearing a press pass and being recognized by one of her arresting officers, cartoonist and journalist Susie Cagle was arrested last week, during the latest round of violence that has marred the Occupy Oakland protests. Cagle wrote about her experience on her blog:
I was detained for 15 hours and ultimately charged with the same misdemeanor as other demonstrators and NLG legal observers: PC 409, failure to leave the scene of a riot. Our arraignment dates are a month from now, and we were explicitly warned against returning to the plaza in the meantime. As I told ABC7, I feel like the OPD does, I think: confused.
Cagle also took video of her attempt to run to safety and subsequent arrest. You can also view the video on her blog.
In her Friday blog post, Cagle further noted that OPD interim police chief Howard Jordan described most of the people arrested as “generally anarchists and provocateurs” and that several other journalists have been arrested during Occupy protests, but she doesn’t know if they were charged with a crime.
Over the weekend, Cagle wrote a lengthy article about her experience for AlterNet. In the article, Cagle described the shameful procedures OPD put arrestees through, and noted how the lack of protection for journalists actually backfired against OPD:
Journalists have no special protections in Occupy demonstrations, especially journalists representing national media organizations. Local police rules give privilege to local media with locally dispensed “official” press passes, resulting in a local media who are more or less embedded with the government. This system actively discourages prying outside eyes.
But my experience counterintuitively revealed the opposite. At a time of such intense public scrutiny, the Oakland Police Department made the mistake of arresting a journalist, and sending her into the heart of an ugly process with which not only demonstrators but many other Oakland residents have long been familiar. They gave me an unmatched, visceral opportunity to understand what makes Oakland residents so angry with the police.
Cagle also writes that nearly all of the individuals arrested were not charged for the violent behavior that Interim Chief Jordan claimed to have taken place during the protests:
Chief Jordan said that police Wednesday night and Thursday morning were attacked with rocks, bottles and spit by many demonstrators. But of 101 protestors, 93 were charged with a PC 409 misdemeanor, “failure to leave scene of riot, etc.” These are Jordan’s “generally anarchists and provocateurs,” the ones used to justify the force he called in — reporters, National Lawyer’s Guild observers, medics, dozens of peaceful demonstrators, and even bystanders on their way home from BART and downtown bars.