Occupiers arrested in W’burg condo takeover

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Party time could lead to prison time for several protestors who broke into a vacant condo building near Bedford Avenue on Saturday night and held an “Occu-Party” before clashing with cops on the street.

About three-dozen revelers invaded the N. Eighth Street building at 10 pm, responding to an ad circulated on e-mail listservs for a party and protest that promised “to weave a fabric of insubordination beginning in one neighborhood and ballooning outward.”

An hour and scores of beers later, police gave the demonstrators the boot, cops say.

But when the officers tried to remove the trespassers, the occupiers — who had reportedly spray painted vacant units with messages like “F--- the police” and “Cannibalize the crisis!” — fought back.

A melee broke out in the street in which one cop twisted his ankle after a protester shoved him, another suffered a bruise to his head after getting hit with a glass bottle, and a third got punched in the head from behind, police said.

Six officers suffered injuries altogether and police arrested four protesters, who were arraigned on Monday on felony charges including rioting, menacing, harassment, disorderly conduct, and reckless endangerment, according to a District Attorney spokesman. Prosectors charged two defendants with assault and charged the other two with attempted assault, which could lead to prison sentences if they are convicted.

But one defendant’s attorney claims her client — identified as Emma Engle in our sister publication the New York Post — is not responsible for injuring an officer’s ankle and would avoid a prison sentence.

“My client denies the allegations and looks forward to her day in court,” said Legal Aid’s Jennifer Ritter. “Already at arraignment the prosecution has offered up an alternate version of its story and my client is looking forward to the truth coming out.” The “Occu-Party” happened in Williamsburg, but members of Occupy Williamsburg, the neighborhood’s most entrenched economic justice protesters, say violent confrontations aren’t their style.

“I don’t go to parties — I’m nine months pregnant and I spent that night building my registry,” said Beka Economopoulos, who has attended Occupy Williamsburg meetings.

Occupy Williamsburg’s head organizer could not be reached for comment, but other sources said the Occu-Party was not an official Occupy Williamsburg event.

The four-month-old movement, which began in a Lower Manhattan park to call attention to economic inequality, has captivated the entire nation and inspired similar actions throughout the world.

There are now satellite groups working in Bushwick, Williamsburg, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Sunset Park, Red Hook and East New York, and rumors about protestors physically occupying abandoned buildings in Williamsburg.

So far, demonstrators have taken over the Borough Hall subway station, railed against controversial development projects including Atlantic Yards, stormed a hearing about a proposed charter school, and marched over the Brooklyn Bridge with sympathetic politicians including Councilman Steve Levin (D–Williamsbu­rg) — who says he empathizes with the movement but denounces the destruction of private property and the clash with police.

A spokesman for Occupy Wall Street would not condone the action and said the group was co-opting a “popular brand” by taking over the abandoned building.

“I personally think that mixing alcohol and protests is a potential for increasing difficulties with the police,” said Patrick Bruner. “Anytime there’s an action that’s planned, there’s the possibility for other things not endorsed by the group to occur, and that’s not an action that is reflective of the group as a whole.”

But the demonstrators behind the “Occu-Party” were prepared for the backlash, defending themselves in a message posted on

“It will not only be the police, the rich, and the reactionary press that will slam the vandalists— activists will likely join in as well, decrying the occupation as not being social enough, not populist enough,” someone wrote under the name Geiseric Tendency.

“No one will understand the vandalists because they are not of either world; they seek neither professionalist capitalism nor professionalist activism.”

Updated 5:45 pm, February 2, 2012
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Reasonable discourse

Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
Dear Brooklyn Paper,

I offer proofreading at standard but reasonable rates. You know how to contact me.

Here's a freebie: though the article is clearly about Williamsburg, you have the caption for this article on your home page as listing it from "Carroll Gardens." Ahem.
Feb. 2, 2012, 1:16 am
FWG from North Brooklyn says:
Friends of Occupy (FWG) are writing in response to press reports concerning the events of Saturday, January 28th on the “Occu-Party” in Williamsburg Brooklyn. We want to share our account with everyone.

We received an invitation to attend a party in Williamsburg hosted by a local group affiliated with the Occupy movement, an event which we attended. Based on what we witnessed, we are writing in response to what we feel is a grievous misrepresentation by the media of the events that night.

It was our understanding that this “Occu-Party” was primarily intended to draw attention to the increasing number of empty luxury condominiums in northwest Brooklyn. During the 35 minute occupation within the building, and along with general good-natured camaraderie, there was also much discussion among attendees about the deleterious effects of bank policy. Among topics discussed included bank-funded luxury developments and gentrification. These activities often displace current residents and create a vacuum in the community, leaving large swaths of the population homeless, foreclosed, or priced-out by these predatory bank practices.

After the NYPD arrived, we spontaneously joined to what seemed to be a street march that then headed toward Bedford Avenue. Besides some obvious lack of organization among the marchers, this march has been erroneously characterized in press accounts as either inciting a riot or rife with illegal activity.

Contrary to the reported accounts, it was our impression that the reported violence was both exaggerated and exercised primarily by a surprising number of uniformed and plain clothes officers. The alleged injuries to the officers may have been a result of their over-response to suppress the actions of free speech and public assembly that night.

We are writing in support of the diverse groups struggling against the injustices of the current system. Every one of us, and everyone we know are preparing for the General Strike on May 1st.

We hope this point of view is acknowledged in any further reporting of Saturday’s “Occu-Party”.

- Friends of Occupy (FWG)
Feb. 2, 2012, 3:36 pm
Odette from Williamsburg says:
Was New Years part of OWS? It a slippery slope when you start aligning your group with whoever represents you best in the press. A group that seemingly wants to grow.
Feb. 2, 2012, 5:25 pm
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
Thank you, FWG. I appreciate that response, and I know others will, too. Your characterization of the events sounds perfectly reasonable to me--I know intimately of numerous events where the 94th was either entirely apathetic or entirely apoplectic. I also know firsthand of incidents involving their subduing of "suspects" and, in their way over the top overzealousness, injuring themselves in the process and then pinning the injury atop some bogus 'disorderly conduct' charges. I hope none of you were grievously injured, physically or otherwise, by this nonsense. I support you in bringing light to the issues of gentrification atrophy in Williamsburg.
Feb. 2, 2012, 6:07 pm
MJ from Kensington says:
To those in support of this Occupy: How do you expect the police to act and for others to view the actions of these "protesters" when they come off as trespassing vandals? It would be easier to sympathize with these groups if they didn't break the laws of the nation they intend to "fix". The truth is there is no quick fix and actions like these do the movement no favors in the eyes of centrists. "Liberals" and "cons" already know their party lines, its people like me who need to be convinced to support one side or the other. I can't imagine myself ever siding with conservatives but I also can't support selfish actions like these that come off as grandstanding and media bait. /End disjointed rant/
Feb. 3, 2012, 9:58 am
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
Read the comment from FWG--that's why.
Feb. 3, 2012, 5:04 pm

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