Occupy Rochester 11/2/2011

"Severe police repression continued in Rochester, NY for the 5th consecutive night.  The Rochester police crackdown started at about midnight when about 60 police forcibly violated the people of Rochester’s rights and evicted them from Washington Square Park.  The 16 arrested transformed the Rochester 32 to the Rochester 48 who have been arrested enforcing their First Amendment human rights.  About 150 supporter rallied around the arrestees as they were taken away.  Many Occupiers surrounded the park all night, sleeping the on the sidewalks until moving back into the park at 5am.

Unlike cities such as Oakland and Cairo where repression was followed by allowing people back into public squares 24/7, Rochester’s Mayor, Tom Richards, has remained defiant forcibly imposing a curfew on protesters in Washington Square Park.”


On Wednesday, 16 more protesters were arrested at Rochester’s Washington Square Park, bringing the total number of Rochester arrests to 48. After a march involving local unions and a total of about 300 people, there was a general assembly. The primary discussion, one that took almost an hour, was about whether or not there were enough willing to be arrested to make a point. In the end it was decided that an occupation of the park would be attempted, and 17 put their names on a list of people willing to remain in the park and risk arrest.

10:45pm: Alex, one of those planning to try to occupy the park after police arrived, sat on the ground in front of the soldiers and sailors monument, meditating in preparation for the park’s 11pm closure. Alex remained in this spot until his arrest just after midnight.

12:02am: “The park is closed. Anyone who doesn’t leave now will be arrested.” 

An hour after curfew and 30 minutes after channels 8 and 10 ceased live coverage, between 10 and 20 police vehicles arrived at the park to enforce park closure.

12:05am: Olivia, an activist who was one of the 32 arrested on Friday (October 28th), watches the arrests while Jonathan, a fellow protester, holds her back so she won’t enter park property. None of the 32 arrested last Friday could volunteer for arrest on Wednesday because a second arrest would result in more severe legal consequences. 

12:07am: R.J. Bean is led out of the park in handcuffs.

The police were on the whole very calm and professional, mirroring their behavior on Friday night. They were mostly expressionless, as if they were deliberately removing themselves from the political issues being hurled at them by the protestors. But while the majority were composed, a few seemed to have a very hard time keeping strong emotions under the surface. 

At 12:15, the police vans holding those who remained in the park left, as did the majority of the squad cars. Some of the remaining protestors began to march the walkway surrounding the park, and a large group remained at the front of the park next to the remaining squad car. At just after 12:20, another arrest was made at the back of the remaining group. Some of the crowd had been pushed a few feet back, off of the sidewalk running along the street and onto adjoining sidewalk that is considered part of the park. 

12:26am: “I didn’t DO anything!”

Nick calls out to protesters from the back of the squad car he was put in for stepping into Washington Square Park after curfew. Nick was arrest number 16 on Wednesday, and he was at the park as a spectator - the only person of the 16 who hadn’t wanted to risk arrest.

1:17am: Leah and Jake, both among the 32 arrested last friday, occupy the sidewalk bordering the park.

2:32am: An occupier talks to people viewing the Occupy Rochester livestream.

5:39am: At 5am, the city’s parks are reopened. At this point, protestors who have remained on the sidewalk all night move back into the park, usually to try to catch some sleep before sunrise.