Chapel Hill Police Violently Arrest Squatters at Yates (University Chrysler) Building

In a series of unfortunate events, a group of folks (who do not represent Occupy Chapel Hill) decided to break into and occupy the abandoned neglected University Chrysler building on West Franklin Street (between 411 West and Lantern). This is one of many properties owned by Joe Riddle that have been left vacant for years on end. While I think their encampment was probably an improvement to the space, I have to admit that if it was my house and someone decided to move in, I'd probably call the cops, too.

So that's what Riddle did, putting the town in the position of having to get the protesters out. I've been hearing a lot of reports about what happened, only some of which can be confirmed right now. But it seems as if the police were unnecessarily heavy-handed. Given that Police Chief Chris Blue has been very open and communicative with Occupy Chapel Hill-Carrboro group at Peace and Justice Plaza, this is somewhat surprising. But it also bears reminding that this group IS NOT the same as Occupy CHC and I doubt they were as interested in maintaining a good relationship with the town.

In fact, most of the squatters seem to have come (by their own description) from the Carrboro Anarchist Bookfair which was held at Nightlight on Rosemary Street just a block away from University Chrysler. I visited it yesterday afternoon, and it drew people from all over NC and beyond. I'm really disappointed to see the Town handle this so poorly after working so well with Occupy CHC for the past month. What happened today played into every anarcho-fantasy about jack-booted thugs violently protecting the wealthy. That's just not Chapel Hill, but there is a vocal group of residents that now will never believe otherwise. 

Reports indicate that the police had been in conversation with the squatters, but it sounds like they did not give a clear warning before actually raiding the space brandishing assault rifles and detaining everyone on site, including two journalists and at least one legal observer. (This comes from an eyewitness account from a friend who was across the street, and reporters' accounts on Twitter). It's not clear to me why the police did not simply approach the protesters with a verbal demand to leave or face arrest. 

One other (much smaller) mistake the town made was the selection of one of the buses with an Wells Fargo ad on the side (not a wrap) to transport the detainees. That was just asking for the chants of "Who do they serve? Wells Fargo! Who do they protect? Wells Fargo!" (N&O). There were a number of other chants and slogans, some of which I was able to hear even from a block away (was down the street at Italian Pizzeria when this happened). They included "Shame! Shame!", "Jail the cops, burn the prisons", "Police - the army of the rich", and the old classic "Fuck the police."

Now I have heard about so many horrible interactions with brutal police officers, and I've even had a few unpleasant encounters with them myself, but Chapel Hill and Carrboro have two of the best police chiefs a thoughtful person could ask for. I'm hoping that the Chief and/or the Mayor will have a strong statement very soon that explains why the police acted the way they did today. I really want to know why they did not try to simply escort the squatters off the property peacefully.

Key reading:

  • The best description of what happened (pre-arrests): http://occupychapelhill.org/chapel-hill-anarchists-occupy-downtown-building
  • News & Observer story with incredible image of police with assault weapons drawn on Franklin Street: http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/11/13/1641362/activists-take-over-vacant-franklin.html
  • Story with lots of photos, tweets, and video: http://reesenews.org/2011/11/13/demonstrators-arrested-at-vacant-auto-dealership/26897/
  • Previous action & arrests of local anarchists at Greenbridge last June: http://orangepolitics.org/2011/06/breaking-rioters-arrested-at-g
  • Reporter who was arrested in raid posted some amazing tweets: http://twitter.com/joshabla/
I may add more as things develop... I am now wishing I had titled this post two wrongs don't make a right.

Issues: 

Total votes: 197

Comments

Josh Davis' tweets of the event are really amazing as well as informative. I don't wan't people to miss this - please read it from the bottom up.

Without warning?

1 hour ago

Leaving police station now.
Is it ok for journalists to be detained in public spaces during raids?
To have weapons pointed at them?

1 hour ago

Sgt. Lehrew of chapel hill police dept took my statement and hand written complaint.

1 hour ago

I'm here on my own free will. Complaining about being detained without warning with press pass out and visible

2 hours ago

At chapel hill police dept now filling out complaint form

2 hours ago

People's mic just reported confirmation that arrestees taken to Hillsboro magistrate. Supporters heading there.

3 hours ago

The occupation began last night w 80 person dance party. It's a long time vacant property. about 10 slept there last nite

3 hours ago

"that was the scariest shit ive been through w cops" said one detainee after being freed

3 hours ago

Most of those arrested were outside the building. At least one camera thrown to ground. Fortunately not mine.

3 hours ago

arrest total unclear too. reporter saw about 8 on bus.

3 hours ago

Supporters organizing carpool to jail. Prob chapel hill police station but unclear.

3 hours ago

Repeat. No warning was given. 30 riot police stormed in like drug raid. "get on the ground, face down!" guns pointed

3 hours ago

Police asked took my photo and chapel hill news reporters photo before freeing us. Also demanded name & contact info

3 hours ago

just spent 20 min being cuffed even w press pass on and visible. Free now. Shit is real.

3 hours ago

Now chanting "jail the cops burn the prisons"

3 hours ago

Franklin shut down for at least 6 blocks

3 hours ago

Guns were pointed at everyone. Chapel hill news reporter detained also.

3 hours ago

30 riot cops stormed chrysler lot. No warnings 20 about arrested sitting in chapel hill transit public bus 1609

3 hours ago

my wrists at scene. 60 ppl here chanting against cops!

3 hours ago

Just detained for 20 min! Cuffed! 30 riot police

3 hours ago

Ok so this is NOT but an offshoot. Sign says so I'll tag that.

4 hours ago

 

just heard take over of vacant chrysler dealership 419 w franklin is about to face police eviction. bout to check it out

4 hours ago

 

Is the Mayor back from the Basketball photo-op/junket? Was this done with his complete understanding/agreement? I don't know Mark well, but I've met him & he seems like a decent guy who would be smarter than this.

-- Ross Grady 

The crowd was chanting "Kill the cops, burn the prisions" at one point it appears.  Also, a statement from Mayor Mark explaining the rationale for today's police action.   http://www.chapelboro.com/Police--Protestors-Clash-On-Franklin-St--Dozen...The reporters and others were detained, not arrested per the Twitter quoted.  

Are you sure they were not chanting "Jail the cops, burn the prisons" and "jail" just sounded like "kill?"James Coley

There were some chanting one thing and others chanting another.  The recording posted on chapelboro.com captures both (though of course featuring "kill" more prominently than "jail."  Late in the recording (ie like 30 seconds in) you can distinctly hear that some are saying jail, not kill.

Just posted at: http://www.chapelboro.com/pages/11452639.php

Below is an official statement from Chapel Hill Police, received at 7:25 p.m.:

"The Chapel Hill Police Department received information that attendees from a local anarchist book fair were attempting to align themselves with the Occupy Movement.  Officers learned that approximately 70 individuals involved broke into the former Yates Motor Company building located at 419 West Franklin Street.  In an effort to avoid a confrontation with a large group and to minimize the risk of injury to the public, officers, and property, the Chapel Hill Police monitored the group overnight. 

"Chapel Hill Police officers gathered additional information and verified the presence of known anarchist members in the group.  Officers also learned that strategies used by anarchists in other communities included barricading themselves in buildings, placing traps in buildings, and otherwise destroying property.  The group in the Yates building used large banners to obscure the windows to the business and strategically placed members on the roof as look-outs.

"The Chapel Hill Police Department waited until the crowd had reached a manageable size, improving officers’ ability to ensure the safety of all involved.  Based on the known risks associated with these groups and the tactics employed in the Yates building, the Chapel Hill Police Department utilized its tactical team to secure and enter the building and remove the illegal occupants.  8 people were located inside the building, were arrested for misdemeanor breaking and entering, and transported to appear before the magistrate in Hillsborough.

"Further updates with be made as more information becomes available."

Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt released the following statement:

"For generations, the Town of Chapel Hill has been home to important activist movements, including the Civil Rights struggles of the 60s, the fight against the Speaker Ban, various war protests, and the fights for equal rights for women and LGBT people.

The Town's response to the citizen activist movement of our day, the Occupy movement, continues in that tradition -- one marked by our community's efforts toward facilitating the ability of citizens to exercise their constitutional rights of speech and assembly. My office, the Town Manager’s Office, and our Police Department have worked diligently to maintain open communication with Occupy Chapel Hill. Our work together included ensuring a safe Halloween for the Occupiers and ongoing access to public restroom facilities; and in contrast to Occupy participants in other cities, Occupy Chapel Hill has not been subject to twenty-four hour surveillance by law enforcement.

Along with facilitating citizens' ability to exercise their constitutional rights, it is also a critical responsibility of all levels of government in a free society to respond when rights of others are being impinged upon. This weekend a group of protesters broke into and entered a privately owned building in downtown Chapel Hill. They illegally held the building for more than eighteen hours. These actions were clear violations of state law. In these instances, the Town will respond in accord with the oath every elected official and law enforcement officer takes -- to uphold the laws of our state and nation. The Town has an obligation to the property owners, and the Town will enforce those rights, just as it will work to continue facilitating the exercise of free speech.

It is not clear to us at this time what connection exists between these protesters and Occupy Chapel Hill, if there even is one. Nonetheless, it is my expectation, looking forward, that Occupy Chapel Hill and the Town will maintain an open and cooperative relationship. The Occupy movement carries an important message for our town, our state and our country. I suspect it will be heard more clearly from Peace and Justice Plaza than from the Orange County jail."

Did the occupiers have any weapons to defend themselves?   Were they
willing to fight for what they believed was theirs? The police have no
idea.  How many civilians were injured?  How many police were injured?  Answers are none to both questions.  When police have to do these things the rule is prepare for the worst, hope for the best.  That means bullet proof vests, rifles and helmets.  Truly scary stuff if you're looking down the bussiness end.   Ruby, as someone who's seems to have dealt w/ Chief Blue, does he seem like the kind of person who likes having to do these things?  For those who haven't, the answer is no.  The fact of the matter is that the police had to do their job, they did it, nobody got hurt and the only people who were actually booked were the ones in the building at the time.  The occupiers had to know this was going to happen to them sooner or later so kudos to them for having the courage to stand for their beliefs.  Considering how many people were in that building last night I'd say that many more didn't. 

It sounds to me like the town was acting completely within it's rights to protect private property and the safety of all individuals involved. It's hard to sympathize with a group of people who would break into and vandalize private property (a dance party?!), especailly when their counterparts/"comrades" down the street have been so incredibly conscientious of their presence here in Chapel Hill.Nathan Westmoreland
President - UNC Young Democrats

How are the groups connected ?

Or at least, I believe the OCH people who are saying that they aren't.Nathan Westmoreland
President - UNC Young Democrats

Have seen conflicting reports between the Occupy Facebook pages and traditional media .

It's a little bit difficult to swallow the analogy of the writers home to this property or to feel much sympathy for it's owner when it's been vacant for somthing like a decade in spite of it's prime location. I don't endorse what the occupiers did but the police could have told them to leave once before they pulled the guns on them couldn't they? It's not like there had been any violence there before the police arrrived.

The building does have a prime location and has been vacant for years.  However, the owner has tried to apply to develop the property and has been unsuccessful.  Why would the police tell them to leave once before arresting them?  Would they do the same to anyone else who broke into a property?  They weren't trespassing, they broke/entered into the building. see NCGS 14-54

This is one of the biggest problems about what happened today. Now what are we talking about?  

Well, I think police violence and militarization ought to be part of the Occupy conversation. I think folks should quit worrying about the taint of association with anarchists, or their personal feelings about those particular yahoos, and focus their outrage on militarized force used against peaceful fellow citizens engaged in an overtly political act.

Yeah, I'm pretty done with hearing the police used "known anarchists" as a justification for, well, anything. I also think that negotiating with the squatters should have at least been an option to explore, given that they were not restricting the owner's non-use of the space. The question that I can't get out of my mind is why did the police not warn the occupiers and give them a chance to leave before being arrested? We are also owed an explanation for the brandishing of assault rifles on the same street where I was eating dinner with my 2 year old son a block away. That is putting everyone is harms way and needs some strong justification.I think it's pretty far-fetched to try to tie this to the police brutality faced by Occupy Oakland and others (as some folks have been trying to do), but for me it IS part of a tradition of Chapel Hill Police acting with an overabundance of armed caution. For example in the line of drug enforcement, they have penned in an entire city block and arrested everyone on it (Graham Street, 1990), and set-off a percussion grenade  in front of a crack house in a populated neighborhood and proceeded to arrest everyone in or around the property (Sykes Street, 2004). It's like they are only capable of using a magic marker when a ball point pen would have done the job.They may be accomplishing their short-term goal, but they are stepping on a lot of people's rights along the way. Again, I expect WAY better than this from Chief Blue and the Chapel Hill Police Department. I'm looking forward to hearing an explanation of just who screwed this up, because someone definitely did.

Remember the LUMO discussions?  Mayor Mark made a great case back then when the issue was how to regulate student housing that we should focus on behaviors instead of "who people are".  He lost that case (thus we have "unrelated person" regulations when we should focus on the issues like noise, trash cans, and cars parked in the yards), but I will be very curious to hear this afternoon if he is using the argument about "who these people are" in the other direction now -- were guns drawn because they are "known anarchists" or because they were trespassing?  I really don't believe anyone should be shot for breaking into an unoccupied building.  And if you're not planning to shoot anyone, why is your assault rifle drawn and pointed at them?  Of course, everything I know about policing I learned on TV (from Hill Street Blues through Law and Order to Psych now), so not sure my opinion counts for much.

This is only a response to the question being asked about why the police didn't give them a chance to leave:I would think the justification is something like this: you don't give a kidnapper a chance to give the kidnapped back before you arrest them, and you don't give a driver the chance to slow down before you give them a speeding ticket. These people were (clearly and unquestionably) breaking the law, and they had been doing so for hours.No stance on the tactics used, just wanted to point out that we generally don't just let criminals walk away once they've already caused damage. Nathan Westmoreland
President - UNC Young Democrats

" you don't give a kidnapper a chance to give the kidnapped back before you arrest them" Of course you do. And once again, no one, not even the protestors apparently, expected the cops to let them walk away. Their point, from what I can tell, is that the police primarily serve the interests of property owners, no matter how much those interests conflict with whats best for a community. A point they were very effective at proving, with much help from Mr. Ritter and the CHPD.

The building is *not their property* - pretty cut and dry.  Of course the police are going to protect the property owner.  What do you propose they should have done instead?

 Just to be clear-  1. The issue, as I see it, is not whether the cops should have done something, EVERYONE agrees they should have. It is a different issue to say that what they did (was that a grenade launcher?) was appropriate. Google "use of force continuum" for more info. 2. I am not advocating for or against the action, just trying to understand the protestors' intentions. This blog has discussed the maddening behavior of Mr. Riddle before in detail.  The protest, as I see it (not speaking for anyone else), highlights the ways that community interests and private property rights clash. Take that for what you will.

Gimmie a break, Ruby.  These folks broke into a building that is not theirs.  And the police aren't supposed to do anything about this?  They're supposed to be nice to criminals now, especially while they're shouting insults at them? Reporting based on hearsay is also pretty irresponsible.  But this is all typical of the Occupy movement, as far as I've seen.  I honestly thought you'd be smarter than this.

John, i think the questions raised are whether this particular response was warranted by the situation. In addition, police are professionals and shouldn't be intimidated or change their behavior based on verbal insults. I don't think anyone is questioning that the police weren't supposed to do anything, including the protestors' themselves (see flyer).

If it were my job to put myself in harms way on a daily basis, I wouldn't take chances.  If someone broke into my house, I would want the police to do more than ask the person to leave.  It is reasonable to me for people to be shocked by the images that they saw.  But I can also see the logic involved with using an intimidating show of force in order to prevent any ideas of resistance from a group of people who are admittedly vocal opponents of the very concept of law enforcement, not to mention vocally disrespectful to members of law enforcement.  

And while I consider the reaction of shock at lawful bystanders being detained to be very reasonable, I can also see how if you're a police officer, you are confronting A) a group of people who do not stand out from a crowd of bystanders and B) a fraction of the group that had been present over the course of their surveillance.  When you see journalists who cover the OWS movement, they tend to dwell in a space errily between the crowds and the police, hence how they get such great shots of the action.  Again, it seems logical and fair, even though unfortunate, that the police would gain control over even the most remote outliers.

There are lots of very strong initial reactions going on here.  I think ultimately, there is merit to both sides.  The situation was scary and unfortunate, but no one got hurt, and I for one do not believe that the police broke either the law OR their social contract with the citizens of Chapel Hill when they raided that building.

-James Hepler

The comparison of someone breaking into a personal residence to a group breaking into an abandoned retail space (that has been broken into countless times in the last decade) doesn't seem fair. I am also surprised that people think that police, who are professionals, would let vocal disrepect get under their skin. If they do, they really should be behind a desk.

Seems to me Ruby sourced her post well. By noting the source for each piece of information she had, and then linking out to those sources, she provided about as transparent a report as one could. Thank you, Ruby, for rounding up the information and providing context. This is why OP is a public resource. 

The article is definitely well sourced and and transparent.  Although I struggle with the question about peacefully escorting the squatters off the property. If it were one person, they would be arrested.  How many people, and what circumstances can turn entities from tresspassers who should be arrested or fined into squatters who should just be escorted off the property?  Doesn't that transformation give the strategic upper hand to law breakers?  What if they had said no or resisted?  Then the police would say, "OK guys, we're going to go put on riot gear and grab a bunch of guns and come back here and arrest you"? Why would you give a group of defiant lawbreakers warning AND the time to prepare to defent yourself (lookouts on the roof and covored windows, BTW)? If they didn't want a police confrontation, they could have taken the hint by the overnight surveillance by the police that CHPD were probably not going to just let them occuy that place.  If they didn't want a police confrontation, they could have opted out of breaking the law in the first place.

I do see the whole thing as unfortunate, and there are so many variables and potential outcomes that of course there COULD have been many other ways to act that COULD have had better outcomes, but in this world, no one got hurt, no one was detained for very long, and to me that's an acceptible outcome.

-James Hepler

Heavy handed would have been tear gas and tazers.  The police had no requirement to give anyone a warning to stop breaking the law.  My point was not that the police should change their behavior based on verbal insults, but rather that these folks can't expect the police to cut them slack when they're being a**holes.Unsubstantiated articles trying to turn folks against the police are just irresponsible, IMHO.  If you don't want a cop pointing a gun at you, don't go breaking the law.  Pretty simple.  Reporters included.

Really, reporters too?I would like to learn more about why multiple identified journalists were detained during the raid. Apparently Katelyn Ferral from the Chapel Hill News was among them. http://blogs.newsobserver.com/orangechat/what-do-you-make-of-sundays-chr...I haven't heard any reasonable person suggest that the police shouldn't have acted to arrest those who were occupying the building and refused to leave. I think what many people are concerned about are the specific tactics and level of force that were used and whether they were appropriate for the situation. There are still many details that we don't have yet, and I look forward to those details being shared publicly so that we can have an informed community conversation about it.  

Last time I checked, reporters had freedom of speech, not freedom to break laws.  If they were in the building then, yes, they get arrested as well.

Reporters were detained, not arrested.

I respect your point of view, and I think this is one of those things where we all get to draw a line for ourselves.  For what it's worth, I feel that anytime law enforcement has to enter into  a questionable situation, an overwhelming SHOW of force is in fact appropriate.  There is always the potential for matters to escalate, and when they do, it tends to start very small and blow up quickly.

I think if I were among the bystanders who were detained, that I would feel very violated, and I think it would take a long time for me to be willing to grant validity to the argument that officers were right to do what they did. It's easier for me to aceept the point of view now because I have faith in the people who run CHPD, and I think that they simply nudged the line between acceptible and inappropriate slightly in an unfortunate direction in an effort to be absolutely sure that they maintained order and safety in the operation.  I give them a pass this time.

 

I've been following news from Occupy sites around the country over the weekend and have to wonder if the actions of the Chapel Hill police yesterday were a part of the apparent national, coordinated and systematic police crackdown on Occupy protesters yesterday. Police moved forcefully to shut down camps in Portland, Oakland and Denver, to name just a few. Viewed in this context, I think we should be asking if the shock and awe tactics used yesterday on W. Franklin were in part dictated by, or influenced by, law enforcement coordination at a much higher level than the CHPD.

There is no crackdown on the post office. This seems to be a direct, autonomous response to the occupation of that building. 

Whoo, whoo, boogie for the homeless? Wouldn't volunteering or donating money to a charitable organization or otherwise participating in local government be more effective?  But I'm sure that's more boring than a dance party.  At least they didn't try to take over Greenbridge.

What a hot mess. The protesters throwing loud tantrums and the mayor and police chief rehashing their non-answers. The media got a few good questions in between the heckling. Here are our tweets from the event, please read from the bottom up:

RT : Town of Chapel hill is allowing participants in yesterdays protest/action to ask Chief Blue questions. He's answering them.

32 minutes ago

RT : "Was it appropriate to hold a gun to my head?" - audience member

32 minutes ago

Chief Blue: "We review every use of force. This one is no different."

34 minutes ago

RT : Kleinschmidt asked protesters to quiet down several times as they mocked town officials.

35 minutes ago

TV reporter (missed her affiliation) asks why the town is not dropping charges against the 8 arrestees.

36 minutes ago

Good Q from of : Will the Town review this? Will it include the Police Review Board?

39 minutes ago

RT : Hecklers continue. Mayor asks them to show respect or leave.

42 minutes ago

The press conference is not really answering the public's questions. Still clear that cops overreacted & that kids are KIDS.

42 minutes ago

RT : Listen to the Town Hall Press Conference now!

45 minutes ago

Chief Blue: squatters were
not warned before the raid because they were concerned about alerting
them. Feared a violent response. (Really?)

45 minutes ago

When the cops visited squat to check it out, were answered with chants "all cops are bastards." This informed their response.

47 minutes ago

Jon-Paul McCelleand (WCOM) asks about dialog between police & squatters, and what was the urgency of acting?

50 minutes ago

These activists obviously care more about entertaining themselves than the public getting information about what happened.

53 minutes ago

Hmm. (from N&O) says there's a sign up @ Chrysler Building saying that it's condemned now.

54 minutes ago

RT : names of those arrested released by police:

56 minutes ago

Cheife Blue: "CHPD has no reason to believe this group represents the Occupy movement."

1 hour ago

Lazorko to hecklers: "There will be time for questions after the statements." Followed by more yelling, heckling, etc.

1 hour ago

This is a good illustration of the cameras at today's press conference:

1 hour ago

Protesters are not helping their case by giggling at the Police Chief's remarks.

1 hour ago

Props to & , putting up very respectfully with some outrageous and childish behavior from... whoever these ppl are.

1 hour ago

About a dozen activists in the room laughing rudely during the Mayor's remarks. Acting like CHILDREN.

1 hour ago

Town Public Info officer Cathering Lazorko kicks off press conf, now is speaking, mostly reading yesterday's statement.

1 hour ago

There are now 6 TV cameras in the Council Chambers for press conf, as well about 1/2 dozen activists & other media.

1 hour ago

 

During today's press conference at Chapel Hill Town Hall, I asked Mayor Kleinschmidt and Chief Blue in what ways the Carrboro Police Department, or other agencies, participated in the W. Franklin Street operation. Blue responded that both Carrboro police and UNC police participated in support operations, including perimeter security.That's what I was afraid of.After the press conference, I was pleased to read the statements below from Carrboro aldermen Dan Coleman and Sammy Slade.From Dan Coleman to interim town manager Matt Efird (link):

Matt,I have a number of concerns stemming from the events yesterday at the empty Joe Riddle property on West Franklin Street. I would appreciate answers either in the form of a staff memo or in a future agenda item as you see fit.I am particularly concerned that the Chapel Hill police seemed to initiate their action via a heavily armed tactical force which pointed semi-automatic weapons at unarmed protesters. According to a tweet from detained journalist Josh Davis (and other observers) “No warning was given.” As far as I am aware, there was no reason to believe that anyone in the building was armed or had any history of violence. In addition, there could be times when an excessive show of force could be provocative and lead to violence that might not occur otherwise. I would like to be reassured that in Carrboro a more measured response would be taken, at least initially and particularly against unarmed nonviolent protesters, one that would be clearly visible to reporters or other observers present.I am concerned that CHPD justified their tactics as “based on the known risks associated with these groups” despite the fact that no one identified as associated with the W. Franklin occupation has any known history of violent resistance to police. To the contrary, according to news reports, those who occupied Greenbridge last spring tried to run away when the police appeared but did not apparently resist arrest otherwise (none were charged with resisting arrest). My concern is that Carrboro PD not make prejudicial judgments about citizens that might lead to this kind of over-reaction.I would like to suggest that while the PD has a legal obligation to protect private property, the occupation of a building that has been unused for many years and has no intended use might allow the PD to take the time to explore solutions short of the use of such a high level of force.I am concerned that journalists and observers were among those unnecessarily handcuffed and forced to the ground by CHPD. Even should arrests be warranted, a situation like this should allow the opportunity for police to identify who are suspects before such heavy-handed methods are used.Although Mayor Kleinschmidt knew of the CHPD action in advance, there was apparently no direct involvement by CH elected leaders. In Carrboro, we have a history of elected leaders helping resolve situations such as those on the Carr Mill lawn or with the Really Really Free Market. It is important for CPD to understand that as well as desiring a more measured response, Carrboro board members stand ready to help resolve such issues when appropriate.Finally, Matt, I want to express appreciation for your understanding of Carrboro’s values in regard to such actions and for being in touch with Mayor Chilton before sending our officers to Chapel Hill yesterday. Still, I am concerned about the presence of our officers potentially drawing them into unanticipated escalations. Recently there have been a number of cases nationally of police violence against occupy protesters (example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=WVkC7kRFV8c). What is notable in this and other videos is that police, though highly trained, are only human and that discipline can break down under stress. Recognizing that CHPD did appear to maintain discipline in this case and has had a thus-far commendable response to Occupy Chapel Hill, I would hate to see Carrboro PD play a supporting role in an action that led to the injury or shooting of an unarmed, nonviolent protester. I would be interested in understanding how we can minimize this risk.Thanks very much.Best,Dan

From Sammy Slade, in response to Coleman's statement (link):

All,Firstly, thank you Dan, I will not restate what you have already done so well.  I agree with all of it.  I want to underscore the need to minimize Carrboro PD playing a supporting role in an action that could lead to the injury or shooting of an unarmed, nonviolent protester.  Matt, thank you for letting the Mayor know about this incident in advance and thanks, Mark, for making sure that Carrboro police, in responding to a call for support by the Chapel Hill PD as per protocol from an agreement between Chapel Hill and Carrboro, did not engage in any direct violence unless it was really necessary.I will add that this incident brings to light the need of finding a way to condition our collaboration with the Chapel Hill PD.  Though I understand that there is an agreement between Chapel Hill and Carrboro for times when help is needed between our police forces, it is hard for me to understand how this could have been understood as such a time.  I regret that the Carrboro police were backup to an action that was so over the top.  I cannot support our involvement with an entity  that can so grossly  overestimate the need for its use of force.  Perhaps there is something that I am missing that the Chapel Hill department knows, but as far as I know there was nothing that warranted the degree of force used. Though only as backup, regrettably Carrboro was involved; I believe we are owed some information on why and what was the basis for the Chapel Hill PD to react to this degree, and at a minimum an apology to Carrboro and the community at large.--Sammy

 

Did you Carrborators view or read Chief Blue's statement on the incident? Show some evidence of that and then come back and shoot your mouth. An apology to Carrboro?  For what?

+1.  I'm pretty miffed about these responses from my town's officials.  I have a feeling they're not quite representing the majority.  Hey, wait, isn't that what the Occupy folks are complaining about?

Wrote this before council meeting but I wasn't logged in.I am going to just number my points because I want to focus on the facts as I understand them: 1. A group of individuals illegally entered and trespassed on private property on Franklin Street. 2. They had a good time while creating a safety hazard for the area by inhabiting a building that has been empty and unused for some time with wood palllets and generators.  From what I have heard of their behavior on local news channels, from  eyewitnesses, and town staff, assuming these folks might not use the best judgement in regards to safety issues is not a far stretch.  3. Unlike the folks at Occupy Chapel Hill, when approached by the Police, they were menacing and aggressive. 4. The police had tried to engage the group and were not met with a response that suggested future engagement would be fruitful.   And in fact it has been the experience of the CHPD that when people illegally occupy public spaces and the police arrive, people run and hide - but not before destroying some private property. 5. There is a natural ambivalence around Police and the force that they use to do their jobs. But we as a community have not asked the police department to stop protecting our interests.  They take on this responsibility while also trying to protect their lives. 6. We as a community have watched the care and communication that has gone on between CHPD and the Occupy Chapel Hill group.  Why would we assume that they would not use the same care (especially due to the heightened scrutiny at this current time) with the incident on Franklin Street 7.While I am sorry that media was detained during the operation, I am focused on the fact that at the end of this situation that our police were called to respond to, but did not create, no one was hurt. I have done my share of protesting.  I was more surprised when I was not detained by the police than that the police arrived.  Part of speaking out against the system is knowing that the system will respond.  And part of how the system responds is dependent on those protesting.  That is not the case everywhere, but I believe it is the case with Chief Blue and those who serve under him. I am willing to have this conversation, but I wanted people to understand where I am coming from.  Donna Bell - Chapel Hill Town Council

Thank you for your very rational interpretation, Donna!

After hearing Chief Blue statements last night at the city council
meeting I'm left with a couple unanswered questions.

  1. Why didn't the police use undercover detective to go in and
    assess the situation? They had them under surveillance for the
    entire night. 
  2. Were there any peaceful ways discussed to resolve this and if
    so why were they ruled out? I would hope that there was serious
    consideration to alternative ways to resolve this.
  3. Did the Chapel Hill police chief seek any advice from the
    Carrboro police chief and is this protocol when you call another
    force for backup in these situations?

I look forward to hearing the findings
from the formal review.

If I had been at the press conference yesterday, I would have asked why the police handled this situation so much differently than they did when a similar (same?) group occupied Greenbridge just a few months back. I believe there were more individuals in/at Greenbridge and they had been destructive of private property. But yet, there was not the extreme show of force by the police:http://orangepolitics.org/2011/06/breaking-rioters-arrested-at-g

According to Chapelboro a holiday art installation created by a UNC student was getting ready to go into the building before the anarchists took it over.

As of this morning the Winter art installation is moving forward and will begin this weekend.

The first question I see among commentors is "why the violent police response".  From my point of view, it wasn't a violent police response-- there were no bruises, cracked ribs, banged heads, or any physical injuries of any sort. The use of the rifles was intended to intimidate the crowd into following orders instead of getting into a shouting, then shoving, then punching match.  Would injuries have happened if rifles hadn't been used?  Who knows?  I think it was a smart move, one that greatly increased the likelihood there would be zero injuries to either the officers or those being arrested.The police were coming up against a crowd of people who by their own admission hate police, and have used violence in the past against property.  All it takes is one moron in a crowd to throw a rock or otherwise escalate a confrontation and someone would have gotten hurt.   Another possiblity is the crowd would have resisted arrest, and the physical cohersion needed to arrest everyone would have increased the possibility of an injury.The next question I read is why didn't the police give the squatters the chance to  leave without being arrested?  You know what?  I want the police to arrest them!  They are most likely the same group that trashed Greenbridge, and instead of helping our community want to go around and see what kind of mahem they can cause to get arrested.I'm not saying they don't have a valid point about society, but their response is naive and completely counter-productive. 

I agree completely. I have been mystified at those who are calling the police response violent. No one - police, protesters, bystanders - got hurt. It's unfair to argue that the police should have responded less forcefully based on the outcome. First, the fact that the protesters did not get violent may be due to the visibility of the assault rifles. Second, the police did not have the benefit of hindsight. Is anyone arguing that the police brandishing assault rifles at ECU today overreacted? They thought that there was a man with a rifle on campus. That is was only an umbrella is irrelevant.

If you couldn't figure it out from my previous posts, you can add my name to the list of people that think the police did exactly what they should have done.

I bet the protestors agree with you too.

 

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