Susie Cagle arrested in Occupy Oakland crackdown

Susie Cagle, the only embedded comic journalists covering the Occupy Wall Street movement, was arrested early this morning in Oakland after police fired teargas and flash bang grenades to clear a downtown street after protestors lit a large bonfire. According to CBS News at least 30 people were arrested and Susie reports through Twitter that she got scooped up in the mass arrests.

The following is a sample of her tweets that began shortly after midnight and ended after she announced she was arrested at about 5 am.

OPD Chief HoJo says call 4 outside agencies made at 4pm, after cops saw anarchists w/ sledgehammers. #OccupyOakland #OO #generalstrike

#oaklandstrike “Strike, take over, occupy everything” #OccupyOakland occupies vacant property on 16th street

#occupyoakland banners unfurled from the roof declare the building a free school & community center

#occupyoakland 16th street barricaded by trash cans now, police copter circles lower and lower.

#occupyoakland “form at the perimeters!” sirens heard but no police yet. Music keeps playing.

#occupyoakland Occupiers trying to talk down angry dude at the barricade by surrounding him, peer pressure. Seems to work.

#occupyoakland nearly run over by black bloc pushing dumpster into growing barricade. Also wood pallets, tires, newspaper boxes.

#oaklandstrike bus fulls of police in riot gear heading south on broadway just a few blocks from the plaza #OccupyOakland

#occupyoakland Alameda cars, San Mateo giant bus

#occupyoakland they are out and on their way and I need to film now

#occupyoakland Far more tear gas masks on cops here tonight than broken windows in downtown

#occupyoakland first gas of the night? Big bang, “unlawful assembly” announcement

#occupyoakland three minutes to leave, police: “mask up!!”

#occupyoakland one minute

#occupyoakland being blocked by police at 17 and Telegraph. “is the jail going to be able to handle this?” over radio

#occupyoakland cops pointing at me, oh great

#occupyoakland San Leandro coming in on OPD relief at 17 & Telegraph

#occupyoakland listening to police radio as they point out their targets in the crowd 2 blocks south

#occupyoakland At 16 and San Pablo now, under police helicopter lights. Wonder what this looks like from the plaza.

#occupyoakland Occupiers possibly holding another building here. Police are lining up on north side of plaza.

#occupyoakland oh and suddenly I’m on the other side of the police line, in the plaza, where assembly was supposed to be allowed

#occupyoakland sounds like they are declaring unlawful assembly at north end of plaza

#occupyoakland arrested in wagon now

#occupyoakland going to north county jail

You can follow Susie through Twitter (@susie_c) or visit her Twitter page.

12 thoughts on “Susie Cagle arrested in Occupy Oakland crackdown

  1. Stupid question, maybe, but is she related to Daryl Cagle?

    More on topic, the thing that bothers me about events like this is, where in the Constitution does it say that you can have ‘lawful’ and ‘unlawful’ assembly?

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

  2. The important word there is PEACEABLY.

    In a totally peaceful group of 100,000, what are the odds that at least ONE guy or gal decides to be violent? Two guys or gals? 100 guys or gals?

    I’m thinking that any bookie would figure those all of those odds at one hundred percent…

  3. Regardless of violent behavior against window panes or a so-called unlawful assembly, what right do the police have to say press cannot cover these events?

  4. Matt, I’ve been told to leave both crime and accident scenes as a reporter, usually by some overwrought underling rather than a scene commander. You can usually work your way around it, but in the middle of a chaotic scene like that, you’re apt to be swept up with the rest.

    In either case, the trick is to keep the focus on whether or not you deserve to be there rather than whether you responded by confronting someone. For example, in the case of a bank robbery, I moved on but found another way onto the scene. In the case of an accident, I got my photos while the officer was doing something else. He ticketed me for unlawful stopping on a roadway or something, and I was fuming but remained polite throughout, went back to the office and he called about 20 minutes later to apologize and tell me to tear up the ticket and we ended up laughing about it.

    The real question — and it’s a real question — is how do you establish that you are “the press” when you aren’t certified by some establish outlet as representing them? I don’t know what Susie’s carrying, but anybody can have a notepad and a point-and-click camera. If I were a scene commander, I might also question whether I had to accept every looky-loo and tourist who claimed to be blogging the story.

    Again, this is a serious question — how do you (as a peace officer or firefighter) maintain reasonable crowd control in a tough situation when anyone can claim to be an exception to the rule? My answer is that non-affiliated reporters can report on what it’s like to be an average person at the scene, which may include being thrown out of the place.

  5. @ Mike Peterson: In the story about Susie Cagle being charged with a misdemeanor I asked “what’s the point of a press pass”, then I read your last comment here and that makes sense to me. I assumed if someone has a “press pass” that there’s some sort of universally recognized/accepted credential that she was using (you know, like the big white piece of paper that says “PRESS” that reporters stick in their hat bands in the cartoons… heh…)

  6. Susie is working for a local outlet for this story and freelancing for others. I’m not sure if she has an official pass–I suppose those are handed out by the same authorities as they determine who is a real reporter and who isn’t.

    It will be easy for her to prove after the fact that she is legit and, hopefully, have the charges dropped. Those charges and these type of sweeps serve to intimidate the press as well as participants.

  7. Press passes are issued by the journal you represent. Absolutely no self-respecting journalist in this country (USA) would apply for, much less carry, something from the “authorities.” Such a thing does not, and could not, exist.

    Two points, one practical, one more philosophical:

    1. From the cops’ point of view, if you have two newspapers, three TV stations and three radio stations, it’s pretty easy to sort out the reporters. For one thing, you’ve probably seen them at fires, accident scenes and press conferences. I ran into an undercover cop at the mall one time and didn’t know if I should greet him or not, but he said hi to me. We knew each other from those “seized a half-ton of cocaine” press conferences we both attended.

    But if you’ve got some unknown hipster in front of you with a card that says “,” what are you facing? A serious reporter, or a doofus with a minicam? Round’em all up and let the judge sort them out later.

    2. You need to find your point of view. You can go up on the second floor and shoot it all from up there — great views, good chance to see the flow, but hard to hear specific exchanges between people. You can go down on the street, get the “you are there” point of view, and you’re apt to miss the Big Picture but you’ll have a terrific first person story. But if you choose the latter, well, if everyone gets their ass kicked, you’ll get to experience that, too. And if that’s what you want, don’t whine when you get it.

    The Russian novelist Turgenev once wrote a journalistic piece in which he followed a condemned man through the last few hours of his life. But, as the man was executed, Turgenev (writing in first person) spoke of his own reaction, and how he had passed out from the tension and emotion of the moment. Dostoevsky, who had faced a firing squad and done time in Siberia, never forgave him. And Dostoevsky was right — don’t tell us about your own sensitive responses, you precious little genius. Get the goddam story!

  8. I’m sorry Mike, but you are absolutely incorrect.

    The Oakland Police Department issues their own press passes and does not recognize any outlet’s press passes but their own. I was in contact with OPD press information officers who were aware that I was reporting on the scene for Alternet, and we had a meeting for me to receive my press pass yesterday morning at 9 am — when I was being booked at county jail. The press pass I was wearing thus said that I was an “independent journalist” for Alternet — but not so independent that I wasn’t recognized by one of the OPD arresting officers.

  9. Sorry, you’re right — I was mistaking “press card” and “press pass.” Press cards are internally generated and ID you as working for the company (staff or on assignment).

    I’m aware of press passes for limited-seating sorts of things like the White House press room or limited-access event like the Democratic Convention. Never heard of having a pass from the cops for standing on the street, but if it keeps them from running you off, then I guess it’s worth having.

    And if it doesn’t, well … geez, it ought to get you through booking faster, wouldn’t you think?

  10. PS — having been in police riots and at other lovely events, I stand by the rest of my statement. But I do hope you can keep your head down and still get your story.

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