Molly Crabapple describes and illustrates her Occupy arrest

Molly Crabapple's brief, illustrated editorial describing her arrest at the one-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street is a tale of police entrapment: petty, punitive justice; solidarity, and resolve.

At one corner, I saw a cop grabbing the arm of a woman in front of me and pulling her into the street. It was the same gesture you might use to escort an old lady, and, when the next officer did this to me, that is what I thought it was. But then, halfway across the street, he cuffed my hands behind my back.

There was no warning. No Miranda rights like in the movies. At first, I was incredulous. It was not until I got my desk ticket that night for blocking traffic that I had any idea what the officer was accusing me of doing.

I was a head shorter than the officer. I said to him, "You know I was on the sidewalk." He wouldn't meet my eyes. I was two blocks from my apartment. But because I was part of a protest, I was no longer a local. I was an obstruction to be cleared.

Going into the police van, they snapped my picture on a Fujimax Polaroid knockoff, hipster party style. I gave them my best grin. A man in a suit passed by, looked us over, and said to the police, "nice work."

My arrest at Occupy Wall Street


  1. And the comment section over on CNN is full of obnoxious twits saying she deserved to be arrested because she was trespassing…. er, on the public sidewalk in front of her apartment, but if she expresses political views there, she’s trespassing… and anyway, the Occupy people are dirty commie hippie vandalous rapists who need to get a job and need to be put in jail so they have a criminal record and can’t get a job, or something… and they all have it too good because they’re in America instead of a third world country where the poor really are poor.

    1.  Yeah, amazing; eye-opening. I wish I hadn’t taken a look. But I did, dammit. Really takes the wind out of my sails. Must reclaim resolve!

    2. Yeah, I saw that too. Sad. It is tough for me to comprehend why these people have so much hate for nonviolent protesters. These people feel that the use of the power of the state to assault and confine these protesters is not only justified, but entertaining.

      One of the things that stood out in that story was the businessman congratulating the police as he walked by. It made me want to smash my keyboard.

    3. In my experience the majority of comments on *any* CNN article are nasty and hateful … I regret reading them most of the time.

      1. Don’t read or pay attention to the criticism. Just keep moving forward. If you let their negative energy absorb into you, they’ve already won half the battle. :-)

    1. They aren’t as effective as the Tea Party, but the odds are stacked against them. But the discussion of income inequality and the ways the laws favor the rich is now a central part of the election. Two years ago Obama would never have talked about raising taxes on the rich for fear of being called a socialist. Now it is a central part of his campaign. I think OWS is responsible for a major change in how people in the US view income inequality.

      1. Damn straight. OWS is effective. Change isn’t going to come all at once.  

        And it would be a lot more effective than the Tea Party has been if it had anything near the amount of money and positive corporate-media attention pumped into it that the Tea Party has.

        1. Sure, but the way it is now, the Tea Party is only for change that helps the corporations and media that are pumping money and attention into it…

      2. Uh, Obama’s pitch 3 years ago was that he wouldn’t raise taxes on people making less than $200,000 and that the bush tax cuts for over that should expire (effectively raising taxes on the rich) which is exactly his pitch today. OWS had nothing to do with this.

        And yes, people started noticing income inequality more, but if all that energy and time went just went into *noticing* that, then frankly, OWS was a dismal failure.

  2. My first impulse is to say that the NYPD is exploiting the memory of 9/11 to get away with crap like this, but then I remember a Labor Day parade in Brooklyn that I attended in the early nineties that the NYPD almost caused a riot at in their ham-fisted attempts to prevent one. (This was not long after the Crown Heights race riots.) 

  3. I can only hope that someday as a nation we look back at these days as ashamed as we are of slavery, our resistance of civil rights, and other moments when we betrayed our ideals.

  4. Damn well good for her. Though i’m surprised cnn are running this story, the mainstream press as a whole treat occupy protesters as “unworthy victims” and reading this it almost comes across as somewhat quaint, like a themepark experience and not the truly humiliating experience i’ve read from other protesters. Just makes me wonder how much editorialising has gone on here. Does anyone get a google attack site warning when visiting her site? I did but now it appears to be gone; correlation does not imply causation and all that…

      1.  Oh hell, sorry to read that. That’s quite the coincidence though isn’t it, maybe correlation does imply causation this time. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

        But on the plus side, i love the internets for exactly this sort of instant call and response.

      2. It’s interesting to view the OWS through the lens of an artist who was an actual part of it. Thanks for sharing your work with the world!

      3. Hi Molly, thanks for the great work! And kudos for getting both your artwork and the article on CNN.

        Hey can we see the posters you made?

  5. No reading of her miranda rights, eh? That’s actually illegal. Too bad the worst that happens to a cop for breaking most laws is a stern talking-to and a short holiday.

    1. No it is not. Failing to give a Miranda warning means that no self-incriminating information gained from direct questioning may be admitted in court. Only if a person is to be interrogated will they need to be given the Miranda warning. When I briefly worked in a city court, the judge gave the warning and had the defendants sign it at the start of arraignment proceedings.

      Edit: I also recommend reading the Wikipedia article. The legal details of a criminal defendant’s rights are something every citizen needs to know in detail.

      1.  Mind you, if arresting someone on expressly trumped up charges isn’t illegal, it SHOULD be. Forget the Miranda rights bit.

        1. Are you kidding? The system is designed so that the poor and troublemakers are taken care of. Here are some examples:
          1) If you get a disorderly conduct charge, you can challenge it in court or pay the fine. If you challenge it in court you will owe the fine, court fees, and a jury charge (if you ask for one). The evidence in the court will be your word vs. the police officer which will be well documented (with assistance for the prosecuting attorney). The judge in the court will likely be a former police officer. The probability of winning is 25% (the cases where the police officer doesn’t show up for court).
          2) If you get arrested for DUI and are poor, you will be punished severely. If you are rich enough to afford a lawyer and your BAC isn’t extremely high then you will get off with a “per se violation”. Every single person who wasn’t a repeat offender who got arrested for DUI that I saw got off with the “per se violation”. Everyone who didn’t have a lawyer got the full DUI consequences (drug-alcohol abuse treatment that they pay for, suspended license for 1 year, a day in jail, and a large fine).

          The result of this system is that the poor and troublemakers plead guilty rather than face the complexity and cost of defending themselves. The rich hire lawyers and get off. And the police do whatever they want (including not showing up for court and not facing any contempt charges).

      2. If this case was going to go to court and if the police actually cared about guilt, this would indeed be an issue.  That they didn’t read her any rights makes it pretty evident they just want to clear the streets for the day and scare them off for next time.

    1. That would be foolish, but it will happen anyway sooner or later. Then the one percent’s private security will slaughter some innocents. And then after that the asymmetric warfare will begin in earnest.

      1. … and when America finally has its own “IMF riots” (Google the term), we’ll get what conservatives have always insisted we needed, namely a do-over on the Great Depression. Conservative economics says that if FDR hadn’t screwed up the country by intervening, it would only have been a few more years before wages fell far enough to jump-start the economy without saddling it with a tax-consuming, productivity-sapping safety net. The opposition says that not only are they wrong, it wouldn’t even matter if they were right, because we’d get violent revolution and another Reign of Terror before their theory could even be tested. But the Republicans, and the Blue Dog Democrats, insist on performing the experiment anyway.

    2. Rhetorical question? I can’t always tell. As a student of history, my prediction is two to three crashes from now. The American people aren’t angry enough yet to scare the elites and their guard labor, the guard labor doesn’t feel desperate enough to open fire. If they managed to avoid another Bonus Army fiasco at Zucotti Park last year, they’ll likely keep avoiding one for another 15 to 20 years. That’s nice for the people who’ll live through those protests, I guess, but it sucks for the country, because it means it’ll be another 20 to 25 years before we fix the problem.

  6. The biggest issue about our American justice system is that “equal protection” has become as dysfunctional as the gap that the Occupy Wall Street movement has grown to stand against.  Once you are nabbed by the justice system, it becomes a siege where the defendant has to resort to making disadvantageous deals, admit to things they didn’t do, all for the sake of expediting a debilitating process and to make pragmatic choices that have nothing to do with the facts, justice, or truth, but rather “how long can I afford to leave my loved ones without my support?”
    The idea of being accused, then having a trial like in the movies, and finding out the truth and meting out a just outcome is a rare and privileged scenario for very few individuals.

  7. By “conservative”, are we now meaning “one who can not handle dependency on others”?

      Business (of any kind) is still accelerating into more integrated and efficient co-dependent systems.  It isn’t socialism, it’s just cheaper business. You (business or person) will pay for heath care; what’s the best way? Why can’t we consider these things dispassionately?

      Sorry to wander off, but this Rand-ish background of “I built this – alone” just ignores the increasing networking and dependencies that SOME businesses use for profit…  To get back to OWS: a more effective protest would be to out-compete Wall Street and steal their money legally. Any ideas?

Comments are closed.