Occupy footage exonerates journalist; cop lied under oath

Photojournalist Alexander Arbuckle, arrested while covering Occupy Wall Street protests, was acquitted Tuesday after a short trial. Moreover, footage shown in court suggests that police lied about what happened.

Arbuckle was charged with disorderly conduct when police rounded up New Year's Day protestors near Sixth Avenue. The arresting officer claimed that he was blocking traffic in the street—a version of events repeated under oath.

Nick Pinto at The Village Voice:

There was a problem with the police account: it bore no resemblance to photographs and videos taken that night. Arbuckle's own photographs from the evening place him squarely on the sidewalk. All the video from the NYPD's Technical Research Assistance Unit, which follows the protesters with video-cameras (in almost certain violation of a federal consent decree), showed Arbuckle on the sidewalk. And in an indication of the way new media are transforming the dynamics of street protest, a clip from the live-stream of journalist Tim Pool showed that not only was Arbuckle on the sidewalk, so were all the other protesters. The only thing blocking traffic on 13th Street that night was the police themselves.

The arrests begin about 32 minutes into the clip embedded above.

BB reader Geoff Shively writes in:

This is the first win in a series of cases where the NYPD is accused of manufacturing false accounts to make arrests of journalists, activists and legal observers. I asked an NLG observer in Chicago yesterday if its likely the police officer could be charged for perjury and he replied "Unfortunately, police are rarely rarely rarely held accountable for false arrests". We hope Arbuckle can change that and bring a case to court against this officer so that police understand that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated.


    1. A long-standing tradition, this is what is threatened by citizen filming and explains law enforcement resistance to the concept.

      “A picture is a fact.” –Wittgenstein

  1. Whew! 
    It’s a good thing Mayor Bloomberg is so concerned about fighting salty foods and sugary drinks.It must be nice to have so little to worry about in a city that size.

    Least of all any official misconduct or corruption…

      1. Yes, the more you snow the news with actions against contrived issues, the less attention will be paid to the actual issues that affect NYC’s citizens.

          1. I don’t think it’s a matter of stupidity, as good as condescension feels, but of cognitive something or other.

  2. Exception. Bad apple. Etc. Nothing to see here, move along.

    Cops who make false arrests and lie under oath may be particularly nefarious manifestations of the system that creates them, but they are, without doubt, not abberations. The point is not whether any individual cop is “good” or “bad,” but whether the system of law enforcement (in the U.S. specifically, since that’s where I live, but probably elsewhere too) has a fundamental flaw.

    1. Bullshit. Absolving individuals of abuse of power in favor of convicting the system that allows for their perversion is wrong. 
      How severe would the crime committed need to be before you would ascribe responsibility to the offender?

    2. Cops who make false arrests are certainly a minority. They are a large minority, but probably a minority. The problem is that cops who refuse to turn in bad cops are NOT a minority. That group encompasses almost all cops. There is a reason why internal affairs is so reviled.

      The fact that basically all cops refuse to enforce the law against their fellow “bad apples ” makes basically all cops bad cops. Toss on top of this a system that pretty much never fires the bad cops (much less toss them in jail) when they are caught, and you have yourself a corrupt police force.

      1. I happen to be a resident of NYC. I can tell you what generally happens in these mass arrests is that lot of people are rounded up and then handed off to  individual cops as arresting officiers even though they didn’t really arrest them, buit they do for the paper work.

        These arrests are mostly lies. the arresting officer makes up a probable story. some of these lies lead to pleas some lead to ACDs.

    3. Uh, no, Joshua, it’s taught an learned behavior. If a cop refuses to do it, or suggests that it is wrong, they are kicked out of the force (and are, quite frankly, lucky they aren’t killed or locked up in a mental institution for showing they are ‘unfit for duty’ by implying that cops should have some honor.

    4. Nonsense. That would be true if she was charged with perjury. She hasn’t been and she won’t because the system silently sanctions such actions. The case went to trial despite evidence of his innocence.

      That’s why the system is corrupt. And the whole “targeting media” thing that we’re doing over here…

  3. Whats really nice is that this can be introduced as evidence  in court any time that cop is a witness in a case.  
    The sad part is it will probably only happen when someone is trying to get out of an obvious murder conviction.

    1. I agree because of that every Cop that is caught with physical evidence in perjury as a firsthand witness should be fired.

        1.  He is saying that since a cop is now useless when it comes to testifying in court because there is physical proof he lies under oath which can be introduced in all his future appearances (don’t know if that is true)  so he can’t do his job as a cop any longer and should be fired.

          I say if he comitted perjury he should be fired and tried for that, regardless of his ability to testify in future cases.

          1.  No, lying under oath is technically one of the few things for which they don’t have immunity. Good luck getting it prosecuted, though.

      1. No they’ll just all learn a good lesson about being better at getting away with it. Everyone’ll have a good laugh, it could happen to anybody.

  4. Here is the definitive reason the public servants don’t want you photographing them.  I say that the every public servant caught lying under oath through absolute proof of the lie should be let go as they are not trustworthy to serve in the best interests of the public.  They server in their own best interest….  weed out the bad apples and keep them out.  This would be better for both the police and the public they serve.

  5. So, no charges brought against the cops who filed false complaints and then perjured themselves?

    1. No because you see if you hold police responsible for their actions, then they might start to second guess their actions on a day-to-day basis, and having the cops stop and think “is this thing I’m doing actually legal?  Could I get into trouble for this?” is apparently a bad thing.  Prosecutors and the upper eschalons of the police force want cops who just do what they’re told and don’t stop and think about pesky questions like “is what my supervisor told me to do actually legal?” or “will this get me into trouble if I go through with this?”

      Also call me cynical, but I’ll be that if there were a real investigation on this and the perjuring cops were hung out to dry by the NYPD they’d point the fingers up the chain.  Who knows how far up the order to harass the protesters actually came down from.  So they’ll circle the wagons and put pressure wherever it takes to prevent anything from happening here.

      1. It should be pointed out that a major corruption case like that can have the effect of cleaning out the entire top brass at the police department.  It happened in LA and was the first step in getting the city turned around from the Rodney King riot days. 

    2. Well there it is – the issue at bottom here and throughout the justice system. False accusations are used as a means of exacting a price from anyone you oppose.  
      Don’t like someone? Accuse them of collecting child porn. Is he gay and in custody of children? Call him a rapist. A problem citizen? Brand him an anarchist, hacker, assailant…If your a cop you have an arsenal of choices.
      Don’t worry. However baseless your accusations are you will suffer zero consequences so long as you swear you sincerely believed your lies were true.
      There needs to be consequences for those who misuse the system in this manner. Almost without exception there are none.

        1. Going after Roger Clemens will ensure a better future for us all.  Now THAT’S a perjury case of the most vile, heinous kind.

          Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go back to reading my Kindle book, “Quotes by Marie Antoinette”.

          EDIT: Whoops, wrong reference, I was going for bread and circus, not cake.

  6. I am curious what the police are told they are going to be doing when the go to an Occupy site. I’m curious if any of them have been told, “You are out there to protect their — and our — right to protest.” 

    I think the mindset they go in with probably has a large influence on their behavior. 

    I can also imagine that after 100 days of dealing with large crowds who see the cops as opponents, as opposed to people on their side, can get very trying. Nevertheless, if we like democracy and our court system (or its ideal), we have to do everything we can to prevent lying under oath.

  7. Got to be the first time in history cops have lied under oath, right? How about actually punishing these criminals who do this crap? If they actually suffered repercussions, we might be able to cut back on this kind of abuse.

    1.  What nonsense is this?! Insisting LEOs be held to the law instead of letting them be above it? That’s madness!

  8. If the cops actually gave a crap about justice, fairness, and truth, they would welcome being filmed. They hide from our cameras because historically they’ve been able to get away with these lies. Like the recording industry responding to computers in a completely exaggerated fashion, so too do the cops respond to the new omnipresence of cameras. You can’t beat and threaten an internet video, so they don’t know how to deal. I wonder if the fact that it’s really easy for cops to get caught with their pants down these days will do anything to change the macho/conservative/us vs. them police culture? 

    1. Police cars are already equipped with dash cams, I wonder how hard it would be to engineer a small camera into the uniform of every cop?  Both digital storage and cameras are cheap and tiny these days, although the power requirements would be a problem.

      It’s basically a cell phone with no screen, number pad, or radio.  You would need decent size batteries to be able to constantly record while the cop is on duty, and some sort of infrastructure for automatically uploading/archiving the footage at the end of the shift. 

  9. Now we need streetcorner surveillance cameras to protect the public from… everyone?

    1. Tamper proof cameras mounted on each officers head would go far in  preserving our rights. No?

  10. How many of you actually watched the video? Because it doesn’t prove what you think it does.

  11. American courts seem to be quite different to English courts: perjury is a very serious offence here and even a cop can’t expect to walk away from that. (Admittedly their punishment is usually far less severe than for an ordinary citizen.)

    1.  it’s (supposed to be)  a serious offense here as well – sanctity of the courts and all that, but different set of rules for the watchmen unfortunately.

    2. UK courts sometimes seem to give longer sentences for perverting the course of justice than they do for violent crimes. Let’s see how that works for Rebekah Brooks.

    1. Well, the criminals I know are almost all into non-violent crimes, and mainly victimless ones.  So there’s that.

      EDITed to add – come to think of it, in this day and age there are so many laws it’s impossible to obey them all. Anyone with a badge is of necessity a criminal with a badge, just as anyone without a badge is of necessity a criminal without a badge.

      1. now, if you’ll all just walk to the edge of the city in which you live and help wall yourselves in; we can forgoe the unsavory task of due process.

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