A turn west on Spring Garden became a turn south on 15th Street. Bicycle police in the caboose were told to halt while those in front of the protest formed a barricade across 15th, near Hamilton. Bike cops pushed protesters back, separating them into clusters of about 15-20 people.
An older police officer got in the middle of a cluster (the one I was in) and was asked questions like, “Is this the America you thought you’d grow up in?” and “What’s wrong with standing on the sidewalk?”
There was a mic check less than a minute later. A protester yelled, “This asshole [the cop] says we’re gonna get locked up!”
Occupiers told each other to take out their cell phones and cameras to film the police as they made arrests, which were, finally, imminent. A protester yelled at one police officer. He was told to get on the sidewalk. He did. But the police officer began saying things like, “Get further back! Further back!” He grabbed the protester and pushed him into the cluster of people, knocking several of us to the side. “I’m not doing anything,” said the protester. “Get back!” the police officer yelled at him. He kept pushing the protester until he was back up against a brick wall, then pushed him more against a bike.
Arrests began around 5 a.m. When they did, I tried to get out of the cluster to not be mistaken for an Occupier. The bike cops wouldn’t let me. I told Police Captain Fisher I was press and could I get out. “Who are you with?” “Philly Weekly.” An Inquirer reporter, already outside the cluster yelled, “I know him,” and he said, yeah, sure, you can go. When I did a police officer grabbed my wrists and began taking out fisticuffs, but Fisher said it was OK, to let me go. Police later confirmed 44 arrests throughout the night. Mayor Nutter held a press conference about an hour ago commending the police officers for showing restraint, and saying he agreed with some of the Occupiers’ messages. I asked a girl as I was heading out what she thought of how things went. She asked me where I was from. I said Philly Weekly. She said she heard that paper had written negative things about the protest.