Brutal Cops, Broken Cameras And Pee In The Stairwell: More on the New School Benefit Show
May 28, 2009
In an effort to provide updates and try to clear up some discrepancies about violence with the police, I interviewed an insider. Below is my conversation with a 210 Cook resident, New School arrestee and party arrestee whose name will remain anonymous.
So can you tell me what you were doing at 210 Cook Street Friday night?
Well it was a total summer day, and a bunch of my friends had been arrested at the New School occupation, so I went to this party for them. And to have fun! I was real broke so I ended up transferring money from my mom’s bank account to contribute to the funds. It was all about dancing and hanging out.
Did you feel like it was a legit benefit? Were the party organizers respecting the space they were in and the people who live at 210 Cook?
I don’t feel like the organizers should be put at fault for being a little spacy…everyone was trying their best to make sure people were having fun. My pal was really stressed about the bathroom situation, because the people that live there were apprehensive about letting people pee. My philosophy is that I’m moving into that place in a week. I’d rather have people clog my toilet than piss on the walls! But it was amazing, I’m really happy that they made tons of money on warm beer and great bands that had unfortunate acoustics.
To your knowledge, when and why did the cops show up, and do you think they were justified in shutting down the party?
Haha, well to answer the second question first, no I don’t think that the police were justified in their actions. My friend and I went to grab falafels and there was a far more raucous party just around the road at around 1am. I have no doubt that it was an overtly political act by the police, who for whatever reason felt threatened by the presence of young anarchists, especially when accompanied by a swarm of drunk hipster bros. There have been a number of rooftop parties in Bushwick that have been loud and obnoxious. Cops aren’t threatened by the kind of white kids that move into neighborhoods to support the economy of bars and vintage shops, but when kids want to make legitimate change, they might go batshit. The majority of them showed up a little before 2 AM, and Cook street was deserted not too shortly thereafter.
Alright, can you describe what you witnessed on Cook Street and what happened to you as you left the party?
Haha, well I left the party in a police car, but I’ll try my best. I went downstairs with the intention of working at the door, urging people to give donations and all that, when the first few police cars started swarming in. I texted a few people I knew to let them know that the police were there. At this time the place was relatively quiet and it seemed really surreal. Ten minutes later the street was filled with cop cars, including undercovers in black cabs wearing everything from Hawaiian shirts to top hats. A couple of them stormed up the stairs and minutes later the streets were filled with confused kids. I had a camera, so my first instinct was to start taking pictures.
Then what happened?
Well, I was first thrown out of homeostasis because I saw a bunch of cops driving at top speed down Cook street from Bushwick avenue. I was screaming, totally believing that they were going to run over the kids that were in the street. That didn’t happen, but one cop drove onto the sidewalk and my friends and I had to hop onto a stoop so we wouldn’t be hit. Then, I saw a kid on the ground. That was the point where I abandoned the stoop to run with my camera to the middle of the action.
I didn’t exactly know what they had done to him, but there was blood and he was in bad shape. I ran with my camera in my left hand and was screaming like a maniac, half laughing half crying and just taking as many pictures as I could.
A cop grabbed me and told me to go home, at which point I said that I was just taking pictures. He grabbed my left wrist and twisted it–I still have some mild bruises, but nothing serious. A female police officer them helped him deal with me, the whole time I’m confused as to how I could have done something remotely illegal yet. I was handcuffed and put in a car. At this point I still had my phone, and was attempting to call anyone I could to come to the scene but they took my phone away.
I know that the officers were saying what would be considered mildly chauvinistic comments the entire time, but I can’t attest to exactly what they were.
Were you charged with anything?
Yes. I was taken to the 90th precinct, mostly for laughs on their part I guess. But I was released in a few hours and charged with disorderly conduct.
Do you know if anyone else arrested was charged with anything more serious than a violation or are still being held?
One girl got charged with a slightly more serious charge, but I’m not sure what it is. She was held until sunday. Everyone else was released during the weekend.
A lot of people have been having trouble getting their stuff back, and the police definitely threw someones phone down the block.
Oh yeah I saw that, the phone actually landed on a police van and shattered right next to me while I was photographing the scene. What happened once you got to jail?
Well, as usual men were separated from women in the cells. There was one officer, perhaps an undercover, or just some sort of clerk, wearing a shirt that said “I ❤ ❤ Twins”. Any requests to go to the bathroom were ignored until people were on the verge of peeing their pants. I asked if I could have some water and they asked me to pay for it even though they had taken all of my money. It was humiliating.
Finally, is there anything you would like to add or dispel about that night?
I witnessed the entire scene, be it from the steps or from the cop car, and any allegations that party-goers had incited the violence are completely ridiculous. The police are at fault for acting as a source of threat rather than a source of protection, and that is a truly shameful act. I guess that’s about it.
If anyone would like to contact me directly about my photos or media from Friday night, please email me at wdunleavy [at] gmail.com.