Occupiers ousted: Cops bust Bushwick anarcho-media group

Occupiers ousted: Cops bust Bushwick anarcho-media group
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Police raided the headquarters of an Occupy Wall Street media organization, arresting six in a Bushwick loft bust that was recorded on video and broadcast live on the Internet.

Cops say they booted the protest-focused web broadcasters at GlobalRevolution.tv and other squatters because they were living and working in a Thames Street loft in spite of a vacate order. But the camera-toting reporters on all things 99 percent claim they may have been forced out over politics — with cops even taunting them about how they’ll no longer “occupy” the loft they called home as they were hauled away in cuffs.

“The police didn’t use the words evict or foreclose or vacate,” said Nikki Schiller, a GlobalRevolution.tv organizer who witnessed the raid but avoided arrest. “They said you cannot ‘occupy’ this building.”

The building near the corner of Bogart Street has long been a home base for anarchists and like-minded artists. Despite two outstanding Department of Buildings vacate orders dating back to March, the web journalists with GlobalRevolution.tv — a site that aggregates internet video of Occupy protests, talks, and, yes, raids — have squatted there for at least two months.

All was quiet until Monday, when the city, acting on a complaint from the landlord, decided to enforce the months-old vacate orders, which address improper entrances and exits the manufacturing building’s use as a “cabaret” and living space.

A notice posted on Monday night on the Department of Buildings website warned against “imminently perilous” conditions at the building.

But the web journalists refused to go, making the case — unsurprisingly in a live internet video — that they have a legal right to squat in the building.

“We had a meeting and we decided we’re going to keep occupying the space,” said Vlad Teichberg, the group’s de facto leader. “We’ve decided the eviction is illegal and unlawful.”

Police begged to differ. At 1:30 pm on Tuesday, officers kicked down doors, slammed laptops shut and hauled tenants — three of them affiliated with GlobalRevolution.tv and three other alleged squatters — into a police van while cameras rolled, streaming footage over the internet.

Cops say they were doing the bidding of the Department of Buildings and landlord Andy Chau, who purchased the building in the summer and told officers that the squatters kicked and pushed him when he tried to give them the boot on Tuesday.

Police would not confirm the number arrests or comment about whether they knew they were breaking up an Occupy-affiliated media organization, but an NYPD spokeswoman said violating a vacate order is a serious offense.

“If there is a vacate order on a building, then police will arrest people who enter it,” said Detective Cheryl Crispin.

Teichberg, the de facto leader of the anarcho-journalists, was rung up on six charges: obstructing governmental administration, attempted assault, menacing, harassment and two counts of trespassing, according to the District Attorney’s office.

Sources close to the detainees say other GlobalRevolution.tv affiliates were charged with trespassing, obstructing governmental administration and resisting arrest, though they claim the resisting arrest charges were later dropped.

Video of the bust shows several building inhabitants milling about on the sidewalk and offering up their hands voluntarily for cops to cuff.

The suspects were released at around 10 pm on Wednesday after nearly 36 hours in detention to find themselves without a home — but apparently not without a camera.

“What basically is going on is that independent media worldwide is being attacked,” said Teichberg said in a video after his release Thursday. “We’re beginning to see in the United States somewhat of a concerted attack to suppress independent media, and Globalrevolution … has been targeted.”

Supporters of GlobalRevolution.tv agree, citing the fact that paying tenants on other floors in the building were not ordered to leave.

“The Fire Department came on Monday and said that we passed the inspection,” said Avery McCarthy, who lives in a $2,400 three-bedroom apartment on the third floor.

Though they are now without a headquarters, GlobalRevolution.tv says the revolution will continue — and it will be televised, online.

“If the idea behind this was the prevent the GlobalRevolution.tv progress — that’s not going to happen,” said Victoria Sobel, a member of the GlobalRevolution.tv team. “As long as we have a computer and internet, our site is going to keep streaming.”

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/from_where_isit.r