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Monday, January 30, 2012

Occupy Atlanta's Tim Franzen says he's being targeted by police

Franzen, pictured here in November, tends to stand out in his signature red cap.
  • Dustin Chambers
  • Franzen, pictured here in November, tends to stand out in his signature red cap.
In our coverage of Occupy Atlanta, we've frequently referred to Tim Franzen as a "spokesman," occasionally an "organizer," mostly for lack of a better way to describe his role in what's intended to be a leaderless movement.

In a Saturday post on the American Friends Service Committee's blog, Franzen says he believes his characterization in the media as an Occupy ringleader has made him a law enforcement target for arrest — and repeatedly.

Franzen wrote, "I've decided that this behavior is worth calling out. It is unacceptable to target a few folks in an effort to shut down a movement. A targeted arrest should be seen as an attack on everyone associated with the Occupy movement. To let this slide is a disservice to others and our movement."

Franzen's most recent arrest took place on Friday, following an Occupy Atlanta protest at a local Chase bank branch. He's been arrested two previous times. Following his first arrest — which was part of a police round-up of more than 50 protestors — Franzen says fellow occupiers were questioned by the FBI about his activities and motives:

It was right after the first eviction that several young OA participants took me aside and told me that people from the FBI had visited their homes and questioned them about me. They claimed that FBI agents had asked if I would be open to acquiring weapons, if I had a militant side and such.

One of the questioned youth actually gave me the FBI agent's business card. I called it the next day and informed the agent that I knew everything there is to know about Tim Franzen, that I was in fact the worlds utmost authority on all things Tim Franzen. When he asked who I was I stated, "Tim Franzen."
I told the FBI agent that he should be ashamed of his actions, that he had no right to run around Atlanta scaring people for no other reason but to crush a movement to address gross economic injustice through nonviolent direct action.

The second time he was arrested, during a demonstration on GSU's campus, Franzen recalls hearing an officer instruct others to "get him." He says he was dragged off the sidewalk and into the street by an officer who subsequently arrested him for standing in the street.

Franzen's account of his most recent arrest is by far the strangest (edited down where elipses appear):

After the demonstration [at Chase bank] was over, Shab [Bashiri] and I chose to ride with a friend back to our car ... [W]e noticed police following us right away, then we noticed Channel 11 was following as well. When the blue lights came on I knew what was about to happen. I started texting folks right away.

By the time police asked Shab and I to get out of the car, there was a small crowd of OA folks and Channel 11 was filming. The arresting officers let Shab and I know that we were being arrested for littering. To avoid dealing with more OA folks and the media, one of the lieutenants asked that we be driven to the Manuel's Tavern parking lot. When asked why the officers followed us from the bank and waited until we were several miles away to pull us over he replied,"I was ordered to."

Once we were brought to Manuel's parking lot, three unmarked cars pulled up ...They put [Shab and I], just two, into our own paddy wagon. The driver proceeded to drive around the city for over an hour while Shab begged to use the restroom. The officer then stopped at Buddy's on Highland to use the restroom himself and get a snack.

Finally he got us to the city jail, where we were told we should be out in an hour or so. This was around 9pm. We didn't get out until almost 4am, largely due to the fact that there was a problem with our charges and APD had to come back and fill something out.

On Saturday, just hours after he was released from jail, Franzen attended another rally, a march to the CNN Center in the name of "international dignity." Again, he says he was targeted by police — he claims he was grabbed by an officer and ordered off a sidewalk — but wasn't arrested.

A closing thought from Franzen's post:

This is perhaps the most personal blog post I've ever written, but I feel it's somewhat overdue. I'm not the first person in the Occupy movement to be the victim of targeted arrest, and I surely will not be the last. In fact, I'm sure I have several trips to jail in store for me in the near future. From now on, I'm not going to write off this police behavior.

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