Twenty-six Occupy National Gathering protesters arrested in Philadelphia (UPDATE)
The protesters were charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction during a spontaneous solidarity march for a protester jailed on Saturday.
Twenty-six participants in the Occupy movement's National Gathering were arrested last night during a march in Center City North, police said.
Among the 20 men and six women were videographers documenting the event, many via Livestream, and several Occupy "street medics" there to support demonstrators, said those affiliated with the movement. Some claim authorities kettled protesters, using the controversial crowd control tactic of forming cordons to contain arrestees within a small area on the street.
"People decided to do a spontaneous solidarity march," said Nathan
Kleinman of the action leading up to the arrests, noting that the head
count of participants and the number of those arrested is virtually the
same. The march, which was not a part of the National Gathering's scheduled events, was a show of support for a protester charged
Saturday night with allegedly assaulting a federal officer, he said.
Those arrested last night are charged with a disorderly conduct
hazardous-physical offense summaries and obstructing a highway, according
to court documents and police.
Multiple videos shot during the action around 10 p.m. show police officers on bicycles appearing to corral protesters on the 1200 block of Race Street, then restraining them with plastic zip ties. One of the videos abruptly ends as the man shooting it is taken into custody.
Demonstrators kept vigil outside the police headquarters at 8th and Race streets through the night and into this morning, holding up signs to passing cars. The majority of those arrested have since been processed and released.
A separate Occupy march, which was included in the National Gathering schedule, first departed yesterday around 5 p.m. in conjunction with student debt awareness network All in the Red. Demonstrators in the "casseroles march" carried red banners and banged pots and pans to protest the doubling of Stafford student loan interest rates that went into effect yesterday.
Police reportedly blocked demonstrators from crossing the Market Street Bridge into Penn's Landing during that protest. Participants eventually made their way back to Franklin Square, where they've been posted since a scuffle broke out Saturday night between demonstrators, police and National Park Service rangers at Independence National Historic Park near 4th and Chestnut streets, leading to one arrest.
Despite last night's events, the group plans to stay put at Franklin Square and carry on, Kleinman said. "We plan to continue to go through the schedule," he said. "We
expect people are going to organize autonomous actions and we're just going to continue going on. The vast majority of folks seem to be excited to go
through the program that we've planned, but people are also interested in
doing their own thing."