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Occupy Wall Street Protesters Arrested in Zuccotti Raid Appear in Court

By Ben Fractenberg | November 16, 2011 4:46pm

MANHATTAN CRIMINAL COURT — Dozens of Occupy Wall Street participants were either arraigned or awaiting arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court Wednesday, some having spent close to 30 hours in custody while held on violation and misdemeanor charges.

A total of 234 arrests were made on Tuesday between the overnight sweep of Zuccotti Park and the subsequent crackdowns in Duarte Square and elsewhere in Lower Manhattan throughout the day, prosecutors said. Roughly 45 of those arrested were expected to be seen by a judge between Tuesday and Wednesday. The rest were given desk appearance tickets and released.

The majority of arrested protesters have been provided counsel by the Liberty Park Legal Working Group and the National Lawyers Guild, a network of local civil rights attorneys that has been defending individual activists and the movement itself.

City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who represents Washington Heights, was among those arrested and held for arraignment. Rodriguez, who was accused of trying to walk down a blocked off street, was released on his own recognizance on Tuesday night, after 17 hours in custody.

As fatigued protesters trickled out of the system Wednesday morning, they were greeted by their Occupy Wall Street brethren and the legal volunteers that have taken on hundreds of their cases since the movement began — the same group that tried unsuccessfully to make a court order allowing unrestricted overnight access in Zuccotti Park.

Dave Korn, 24, from the Washington, D.C. area, was charged with trespass, resisting arrest and obstruction of governmental administration. Like many others was held overnight and released late Wednesday morning.

Korn said the time spent in custody was tiring, and he described the overnight holding pen scene as a surreal event, where protesters had "civil" conversations with police and other inmates.

"In every cell there was some kind of intense, political or economic debate going on. That was a beautiful thing to me," Korn said.

Another protester, Josh Singer, 21, of Brooklyn, was also released Wednesday morning. He pleaded guilty to a violation and paid a $120 fine, he said, because he did not want to come back to fight the charges.

He described a chaotic scene inside the holding area with dozens of protesters all crammed into the same holding pen.

"There were a lot of kids in that cell, dude," said Singer, who said he has the flu and was very eager to get home and rest.

Tim Fitzgerald, 27, who lives in Brooklyn and had been spending time at Zuccotti helping out, said he spent close to 10 hours in jail before being given a desk ticket for trespassing and disorderly conduct.

"I passed out on the cold floor," he said about falling asleep in a jail cell he shared with four other people.

Fitzgerald said he was at the kitchen area when police came in to evict people from the plaza. He said people locked arms and sat on the ground.

"They were grabbing people by their hair," he said about police arresting protesters who refused to leave the park. 

Kyle Rucker, 19, who had been sleeping in Zuccotti since the protests began on Sept. 17., spent 12 hours in jail. After getting out he came back to help out his compatriots.

Rucker said he helped bring "clothing, food and emotional support," to those getting out of jail.

He added that people were volunteering their apartments for those who needed a place to stay.

"A lot of people have opened their doors to us."

Rucker said he planned to take part in protests Thursday, though he hasn't decided if he'll take part in civil disobedience.

"If they are going to arrest me for free speech, I'll be arrested for free speech — gladly."