Three protesters were arrested and four issued summonses yesterday in Grand Central Terminal, where approximately 150 demonstrators formed a "flash mob" to protest President Obama's signing of the National Defense Authorization Act [NDAA], a military spending bill that also authorizes the military to detain American citizens indefinitely without due process. Obama signed it in Hawaii on New Year's Eve, and it hasn't gotten that much attention in the media, but some people at least are a little alarmed about this, and they were expressing their outrage during rush hour yesterday. In this video, protester Lauren Digioia gets arrested around the two minute mark:
Digioia, who has been involved with the Occupy Wall Street movement for some time (and was sexually assaulted in Zuccotti Park in October) was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. According to MTA rules, conduct that qualifies as disorderly includes behaving "in any manner which may cause or tend to cause annoyance, alarm or inconvenience to a reasonable person or create a breach of the peace."
So Digioia was presumably arrested for causing said "annoyance"—and while we can all agree that the OWS "people's mic" is annoying—it's interesting that the others who were raising their voices to repeat her words were not also arrested. It's unclear how Digioia's "disorderly conduct" differed from the other yelling demonstrators, except for the obvious fact that she was leading them to yell about NDAA. It looks like she was essentially arrested for being a political rabble-rouser, which we don't see listed in the MTA's rules of conduct.
The Grand Central demonstration was followed by a General Assembly at a privately-owned public space at 100 William Street, where activists had previously been threatened with arrest for peacefully assembling, despite the space being open to the public (as required by law). Last night, police did not interfere with the meeting, but asked protesters to leave a space open for people to pass through. (They complied.)
City Councilmember Jumaane Williams attended, and tells PolitickerNY, "I came out tonight to observe, to help make sure that the threats to right to assemble and protest are quelled. Council Member Steve Levin, Norman Siegel and I were able to help mediate with the building management and the NYPD to maintain an acceptable balance of everyone’s concerns." [Video via Animal New York]