Penn Professor Recalls His Arrest During the Raid on Occupy Philly

By Michael Alan Goldberg
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 16 | Posted Dec. 1, 2011

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As he was being led by police into the back of a nearby van, Ghose saw dozens of people running west on Market. “I think some of them ended up joining the march and got arrested later,” he says.

On the way to PPD headquarters at 8th and Arch, Ghose and the others noticed the words “Wells Fargo 14” scrawled inside the van—ostensibly written by one of the 14 Occupiers arrested on Nov. 18 during a sit-in at a Center City Wells Fargo branch.

“We were scared, but that was the moment where we were like, ‘OK, this is the continuation of a movement,’” Ghose says.

When they arrived at police HQ, the seven were left alone in the back of the van for half an hour before being taken in for processing. The plastic ties, on for about 90 minutes, were removed. A nurse took their temperature and asked if they were on any kind of medication. They were instructed to take off their shoelaces and belts. Their wallets, keys, cell phones and other possessions were confiscated. Ghose says he was taken into the basement jail—“it’s literally like a dungeon”—and placed into a cubicle-sized cell with two other men (both non-Occupiers, being held for different offenses) who were both asleep.

One of the first things Ghose saw were cockroaches crawling out of the metal toilet. “I’ll take on armed cops any day of the week, but I hate cockroaches,” he laughs. “I am not embarrassed to admit that I was scared of the cockroaches.”

About two hours later, Ghose estimates (his watch had been confiscated), he and the six others were taken from their cells to a larger room for fingerprinting.

“MSNBC was on and the TV next to it had a local news station on,” says Ghose. “We were watching and MSNBC said the eviction had happened and Mayor Nutter was saying it had gone beautifully and there were no reported arrests at the plaza, and we’re looking at each other, like, ‘What about us?!’ And right next to it was the local TV showing video of me getting arrested. So the cops were like, ‘Hey, that’s you!’ They were laughing. At this point they were absolutely nice to us.”

More arrested Occupiers started coming into the station. Ghose says he saw one man with blood on his face—the man told him that a bicycle cop had hit him in the head with his bike, breaking his glasses. Ghose was taken back to his cell. One of his cellmates had been taken out, and another Occupier was tossed in, who gave Ghose news of the arrests of the marchers near North. Broad Street.

And then Ghose and his fellow Occupier decided to do an Occupy “mic check” there in the cell block. “When I started it, the other people there who weren’t Occupiers were saying ‘What the hell is this?’ We started explaining to the other cells what a mic check was, and so we mic checked down the line to take account of who was there and whether they were OK. Everyone relayed back—a couple of people said they needed medication; others said they had no toilet paper.”

Then, says Ghose, the mic checks turned into loud chants of “We are the 99 percent” and “Occupy the Jail!” Occupiers started banging on the metal grilles, and they could hear the female Occupiers separated in a different part of the jail screaming along. They kept it up for 25 minutes. “It was absolutely incredible,” says Ghose, who says bewildered guards quickly arrived on the scene. “They just stood around, they didn’t know what to do. They were like, ‘This has never happened.’ Then I noticed some of the non-Occupiers had started chanting, too. It was an incredible moment of solidarity.”

Ghose says that brief moment of elation disappeared when he saw a woman with a badge, but not a standard police badge, come down into the jail and stop in front of his cell.

“She says, ‘What’s your name?’ Ghose. ‘Were you born in Bombay, India?’ Yes. She said, ‘You need to come with me, I’m with immigration—I’m an ICE officer.’ So I went with her [to another room] and the first thing she says to me is, ‘Are you a green card holder?’ And I said, ‘No.’

Ghose says he’s been an American citizen since 2000, and has lived in this country since 1990.

“And she says, ‘Well, we’re not sure of that, we’ll have to check that so I’m going to have to do your fingerprints again for a federal check, because if you’re a green card holder or you’re here illegally, then you will be deported.”

“Then she looks at me and says, ‘If you’re not registered with Selective Service, then you are breaking the law. I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ She said, ‘If you became a naturalized citizen, you need to be a part of the Selective Service System.’”

“I was like, ‘No I do not,’” Ghose continues. “I know for a fact that’s not true. I remember signing [citizenship papers] where I was exempt from all of that; 99 percent of us are exempt from that kind of stuff. I was like, ‘You can’t just say that to intimidate me.’ And she said, ‘I am a federal officer—I would advise you not to joke around with me.’ I said, ‘I am a professor who knows my stuff, I would advise you to be honest with me.’”

Ghose says at that point the officer backed off.. “She said, ‘You’re a professor?’”

He says she left for a few minutes, verified who he was, then came back “very different” and “apologetic.”

“She said, ‘I’m doing this for your own good so that the next time you get locked up they’ll have your fingerprints on file and they’ll be able to tell you really are a citizen.’ “Then she said, ‘You can blame all the illegal Mexican immigrants who come here for this.’ I was furious. “I said, ‘Please do not include me in your racist commentary.’”

Ghose says he did not get the ICE officer’s name.

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Comments 1 - 16 of 16
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1. Pat I said... on Dec 1, 2011 at 09:30PM

“In the real world most, if not all of us would have gotten fired for leaving our jobs todo shit like this. But then again, most of us aren't coddeled liberal arts professors.

i wonder if this self-important tool is going to refund the tuition for the days he didn't teach class. Then again - what he teaches really has no use in the real world.”

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2. Pat I said... on Dec 1, 2011 at 09:31PM

“In the real world most, if not all of us would have gotten fired for leaving our jobs todo shit like this. But then again, most of us aren't coddeled liberal arts professors.

i wonder if this self-important tool is going to refund the tuition for the days he didn't teach class. Then again - what he teaches really has no use in the real world.”

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3. Anonymous said... on Dec 1, 2011 at 09:44PM

“While I kind of agree with "coddled liberal arts professor' sentiment since when does the pursuit of knowledge have no practical use in the "real world". Since when does critically thinking about our past or the structure of our society have no value?

Welcome to the Dark Ages I guess. Totalitarian regimes like the Nazis and the Soviet Union held no value in such critical thinking.”

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4. Armenian Immigrant said... on Dec 1, 2011 at 09:52PM

“I don't know what to be more angry, the lying to the press(and thus the public) about the arrests or the racist and disrespectful comment by the ICE officer. This a shame.”

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5. Anonymous said... on Dec 1, 2011 at 10:45PM

“Dear Pat,
I think if you read the last paragraph of the article, you will notice that it says "He made it to class five minutes late." There were no missed classes. And I think that Foundations of Social Work Practice is probably one of the most important things to teach for half of Americans.”

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6. Charles said... on Dec 1, 2011 at 10:59PM

“These accounts are so totally consistent with appropriate and respectful police behavior that it is truly hard to imagine where the complaints about police misconduct originate. As a witness to the RNC in 2000, this is soooooo much better. It would be nice if these folks could figure out how to accomplish something other than obtaining press coverage. It's impossible not to agree that money commands too much power in out politics these days and that income inequality is now out of hand BUT how is that going to change?”

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7. Anonymous said... on Dec 1, 2011 at 11:36PM

“Without social sciences we'd still live under Despotism, pat. Do you know that word pat? "dag gubment" pat says "takin mah job if i speek mah mind. i got me use in the real word!"”

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8. Anonymous said... on Dec 2, 2011 at 01:42AM

“I looked up this professor on the U Penn website. He is deeply involved in trying to help people who are too often ignored in our society for the fact they are HIV positive and have a host of other problems. His work alone to save the lives of millions in multiple countries is brave and commendable. Can you say that you have been brave enough to do something like that? Most people in our society are comfortable in our little worlds working our little jobs not thinking of the better good of society because we are too selfish to notice the poor or sick in our society. Good for him. When we all lose our jobs thanks to corporate greed or the disrespect we have to public workers especially anyone in the teaching profession you will wish you had stood up for the 99%.”

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9. sacajaweabcn said... on Dec 2, 2011 at 07:36AM

“We need the R-evolution & the global changes, i believe in the occuppies of the earth, I vote to Democracy 4.0
signed 15M Spain member”

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10. treisiroon said... on Dec 2, 2011 at 07:46AM

“"coddled liberal arts professor". Let's take a look. Worked hard, got his degrees, got a good job, is engaged and working for betterment of civil society. Yeah, a real schmuck for sure.

According to OWS critics, protestors without jobs are lazy freeloaders and protesors with jobs are coddled. How constructive.”

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11. Anonymous said... on Dec 2, 2011 at 08:23AM

“This professor is like totally like radical. I totally like I want to take his class. Because he can like totally like talk.

"... and my wife was like, ‘There are a lot of helicopters ..."

"... I was like, ‘You guys look like ..."

"... He was like, ‘Is this gonna go on our record?’ ..."

"... Like, now that we’re getting arrested, ..."

"... we were like, ‘OK, this is the continuation ..."

"... it’s literally like a dungeon ..."

"... So the cops were like, ‘Hey, ..."

"... They were like, ‘This has never happened'. ..."

"... I was like, ‘No I do not, ..."

"... I was like, ‘You can’t just say that ..."

OK, in one sentence, he uses "like" appropriately, but misuses "literally". After reading this article, I was like, "He teaches at Penn?"”

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12. supporter said... on Dec 2, 2011 at 12:31PM

“Dr. Ghose sounds awesome. And as a social worker, I can say that Foundations of Social Work Practice is an essential course. Great job Professor, giving these students opportunities for hands on learning!”

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13. Anonymous said... on Dec 2, 2011 at 01:18PM

“Hey Pat! chill out dude!”

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14. Pat I said... on Dec 2, 2011 at 01:26PM

“You know, to be honest, what I'm saying isn't really a reflection of my thoughts towards this professor, its more a reflection of the deep hidden anger inside myself that I need to find ways to vent. One of these ways is through expressing anger towards people who do not share the same individualistic notions as I do. On a deeper level, this very individualistic notion is rooted in anger that was instilled in me as a child.

I ask you all to excuse my cruel words and I promise that from now on I will try to think things through before writing them so that my words are not motivated by an unrelated hatred borne out of neglect.”

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15. Debra said... on Dec 3, 2011 at 11:41PM

“Pat is representative of those who have a complete misunderstanding of the plight of university professors. "Coddled" is hardly the case. 75% of all university professors in this country are hired fifteen weeks at a time, and earn about $25,000 a year with no benefits, no job security. While Dr. Ghose is an assistant professor with a full-time position, that is not the case for the majority of faculty in this country, who struggle against poverty while doing our best to continue to educate the next generation of students. Where does the tuition go? To the administrators, the college presidents. The university system now replicates the corporate system, where "workers" are underpaid and the CEO earns obscene amounts of money. The Dr. Ghose is standing up for the 99% speaks volumes for him; I'm sure he knows that the 99% includes most university professors in America. As for your "real world," Pat - I assume it has no intellectual rigor at all.”

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16. Milind Sharma said... on Mar 6, 2013 at 10:14AM

“I would like to protest involvement of TJ Ghose. He an anarchist and has record of arrest. He should be prevented from anystage in on any forum in US. As he doesn’t support others right to express, I don’t believe he has right to speak either.”


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