One of the major complaints made against the financial sector by demonstrators who began their occupation of Wall Street one month ago today is that there have been few major prosecutions of banking executives and other financial actors for financial frauds and other crimes related to the economic crisis. The handful of serious enforcement actions that have been made include an 11-year sentence against Goldman executive Raj Rajaratnam for insider trading and the conviction of the chairman of Florida-based mortgage-lender firm Taylor, Bean & Whitaker for $3 billion in fraud. Major players at the upper echelon of most banks remain untouched for their role in the crisis.
Yet while state and federal law enforcement officials — with a handful of exceptions, like New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman — have largely strayed away from major lawsuits and prosecutions in the financial sector, thousands of Americans have faced arrest for misdemeanors — including simply staying in a public park overnight — they committed while protesting Wall Street and corporate greed. ThinkProgress has assembled a short summary of just some of the well over a thousand arrests that have taken place across the country during occupations and other protest actions over just the past month:
– NEW YORK CITY: More than 700 protesters were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge as they began to impede traffic on October 1st. Upwards of 70 people were arrested following the occupation of Times Square this weekend. Additionally, more than two dozen people were arrested while trying to symbolically close their bank accounts at a Citibank branch last week.
– BOSTON: Over a hundred people were arrested as Boston police stormed the Occupy Boston encampment last week. Police threw an American flag to the ground, detained veterans, and destroyed personal property during the arrests. Earlier in the month, two dozen people were arrested while protesting Bank of America’s corporate offices downtown.
– CHICAGO: 175 protesters were arrested over the weekend after refusing orders to vacate Grant Park. “I’d like to ask why (New York Mayor Michael) Bloomberg let the people stay in the park peacefully and clean up their own mess, and Rahm Emanuel won’t let us do the same,” said protester Joseph Eichler, referencing the fact that protesters in New York have been allowed to stay in Zuccotti Park.
– DENVER: Over two dozen protesters were arrested last week in Denver after Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) signed off on a riot police raid on their encampment near the state capitol building.
– LOS ANGELES: Ten protesters were arrested earlier this month after one man tried to cash a $673 billion check at a local Bank of America branch, a protest against the banking industry bailout.
– SEATTLE: Seattle police moved into Occupy Seattle’s encampment this morning, clearing out 150 people and arresting seven. “We all knew it was going to happen. We don’t think it’s legal,” protested Occupy Seattle participant and law student Corey Wlodarczyk.
– WASHINGTON, D.C.: Yesterday, Dr. Cornel West and 19 others were arrested on the steps of the Supreme Court building while protesting against the Citizens United decision.
An filmmaker concerned with the crackdowns on activists made a short YouTube film called “I Am Not Moving,” comparing the arrests across the country with the word of American officials calling on other countries to respect free speech. In less than a week, the video has almost half a million views. Watch it:
The American Civil Liberties Union has created a resource page here for protesters who are looking for an explanation of their rights.
Ken Krebs writes:
“Nineteen arrested in Raleigh.”