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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Clearing up (kind of) the recent Occupy Atlanta arrest

Following yesterday's post about Occupy Atlanta's Tim Franzen, there was a lot of discussion on the blog about his most recent arrest, which took place after a Friday protest at a local Chase bank branch. Franzen said in a blog post that he'd been arrested for littering. Some people thought that was ridiculous. Others thought the police caved, and that Franzen should have faced harsher charges.

After I verified with police that Franzen had, in fact, been arrested for littering, "Iwasthere" said:

@Gwynedd Stuart: What do you mean "according to police." If you there, which I was, you would know that they carried a freaking couch — God knows where they found it — and placed it infront of the front door so nobody could get out. Then they took cones and other objects and stacked them at the back door. Then, after acting like idiots for an hour, about 50 of them marched in the middle of the road, blocking traffic, screaming "cop's, pig's, murders". Thats mature.

Local journalist George Chidi posted his observations from the protest:

I was there, as part of the protest. A couch was left in front of the building's doors, along with some garbage. Some papers were taped to the windows. It was meant to be symbolic of what happens in a forced eviction after a Chase foreclosure.

No one spray painted the Chase branch.

There were people screaming epithets at the police at one point — an act with which I and many Occupy Atlanta supporters strongly disagree. We're going to have to sort that out, eventually.

But Tim isn't one of those people.

He didn't bring the couch, either. He may have sat in it. He is plainly being targeted, because he's consistently active and visible ... and because he gets press. He gets press because he's a skilled communicator.

And here's what the police said in their report (occasional emphasis added by me, edited where elipses appear):

On 1/27/2012, at approximately 4:30 p.m., Zone 6 dispatch advised that the group referred to as "Occupy Atlanta" was marching down Piedmont Ave. ... where they had eventually stopped in protest of the Chase bank at that location. Dispatch stated that "Occupiers" were banging on the windows of the bank and spray painting things on the windows. At one point the "Occupiers," led by Mr. Timothy Franzen, threw so much trash (to include a two cushion couch) in front of the entrance to the bank that the customers and staff of the bank could not exit. At one point during this incident, Deputy Chief C.W. Moss had arrived on scene and upon his arrival witnessed the arrestees Mr. Timothy Franzen and Ms. Shabnam Bashiri grab several large trash bags full of what appeared to be garbage out of a light colored Mercury Grand Marquis. The two subjects then heaved the bags of trash at the front door of the bank, and immediately jumped back into the vehicle and fled the scene, leaving the trash behind for Chase employees to clean up.
The damage to the bank itself consisted of two windows being spray painted, and a large amount of trash being left at the scene.

The official charge was damage to property at a business.

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