Yesterday, 74 Occupy Wall Street protesters were arrested throughout the day at various marches and rallies in Times Square, Washington Square Park and Citibank. Twenty-four of those arrests came when demonstrators marched to the Citibank at 555 LaGuardia in a mass attempt to close their accounts (see video below). They were all charged with criminal trespass, while one was also charged with resisting arrest. Now, Citibank is laying the blame for the arrests on the NYPD's shoulders: "no one was arrested for closing an account; we didn't lock people in our branch—the police decided to close the branch; and we didn't ask for anyone to be arrested—that is a police decision."
In the video above, you can see a woman being arrested (literally picked up) by a plainclothes cop while shouting “I’m a customer, I’m a customer.” "They are arresting people for entering the bank," protester Ari Cowan told the Daily News yesterday. "This is insane. They are trying to close their accounts and being arrested for it." Citibank Public Affairs issued the following statement regarding the arrests:
A large amount of protesters entered our branch at 555 La Guardia Place around 2:00 PM today. They were very disruptive and refused to leave after being repeatedly asked, causing our staff to call 911. The Police asked the branch staff to close the branch until the protesters could be removed. Only one person asked to close an account and was accommodated.
To be clear: no one was arrested for closing an account; we didn't lock people in our branch—the police decided to close the branch; and we didn't ask for anyone to be arrested—that is a police decision.
It's also possible that police had been tipped off about the protesters plans: Gawker reported yesterday about New York-based computer security consultant Thomas Ryan, who has been working with conservative bloggers, the NYPD and FBI to infiltrate and undermine OWS. Yesterday, Ryan posted the entire OWS mailing list to Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government, which features thousands of email addresses belonging to OWS demonstrators.
Ryan defended himself to Gawker, saying he greatly admired NYPD and FDNY officers, and seemed to point toward a vaster left-wing conspiracy: "I am sorry if we see things differently, I try to look at everything as a whole and in patterns. Everything we do in life and happens in life, there is a pattern behind it."