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Six Unlawful Arrests at DSS Protest

July 14, 2021

VOCAL-NY had a protest in the lobby of 4 World Trade Center, which has the offices of the Department of Social Services, the tent for the Department of Homeless Services and the Human Resources Administration (public assistance).  We attempted to get Commissioner Steven Banks to come down to tell him to tell DeBlasio to stop the transfers of homeless people from hotels to congregate shelters because it’s not safe.  It was not intended as a civil disobedience, and it was stressed that no one was going to be doing anything illegal or getting arrested both before we went in and at the meeting Thursday when we planned the action.  I shouted the contents of the first half of the letter, and Althea Matthews shouted the second half. 

As we were leaving, shouting “We’ll be back!” the cops decided to start arresting people for trespassing.

First they went for Santos, who had a bandaged up eye, then they went for Carl Stubbs.  Fred Wright, who was our police liaison for the action, was arrested by one officer while talking to another.  Homelessness Union Organizer Joseph Loonam pulled out his phone to video the arrest, and he was approached from behind and handcuffed.  Homelessness Union Organizer Celina Trowell was leading us out of the building and was also grabbed and arrested, and when Althea noticed it, she turned around and was also arrested.  I was not arrested, but I might have been had I not sped up because a cop definitely came toward me from behind.  All six were released with summonses after about an hour. 

Milton Perez, who believed that the only reason he and I were not arrested is because of my cane and his arm in a sling, called VOCAL-NY’s political director Paulette Soltani, and we eventually took pictures and video discussing our side of the story once everyone was set free.   The cops alleged that it’s illegal to protest anywhere on the World Trade Center  If that were true, why did they wait until we were leaving to arrest us?  My understanding of the law regarding trespassing is that it’s only trespassing if you refuse to leave when asked, which no one did, and Paulette concurred that this was also her understanding of the law.  Every one of us was headed to the door except for a few people like Joe who paused when some of our group were cuffed.

2 Comments
  1. DaveWeiss permalink

    You were shouting a public building? You were having a tantrum like a little kid. Very apt. Very on brand for you, Scotty.

    • We didn’t have amplification, you idiot. I needed to be heard throughout the lobby. The mayor is intentionally putting people in death traps as punishment for not being able to afford the ludicrous rents in this city. He needs to be held accountable. He is refusing to hear our pleas. People are attempting to lock themselves in hotel rooms rather than return to congregate shelters. DeBlasio is an idiot if he thinks this will work unless it is actually his goal to kill people. All he is really going to do is increase the street homeless population, which will in turn increase the street sweeps, which will result in more problems. He wants to warehouse the homeless people and forget about them. That’s not how it works, especially with a pandemic raging.

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