Four activists including two citizen journalists were arrested at a Climate Solidarity Rally in New Orleans on November 15. These Gulf Coast advocates (some from Occupy The Stage) attended a protest against Big Oil in solidarity with the Tar Sands Blockade.
This protest evolved from a workshop at The First People’s Convention in New Orleans that led to a Teach-In about the Tar Sands at a local coffee shop. Those who signed up at the Teach-In received emails alerting them to a rally outside the Roosevelt Hotel. The livestreamer who often records Occupy actions and uses the Twitter handle @small_affair attended this action as a citizen journalist with a press pass and was arrested while staying in front of the hotel to record another citizen journalist being detained.
This was not an event organized by “Occupy NOLA” or “Occupy The Stage.” Some members attended in solidarity.
On Thursday, November 15 around 11 am, a group of about ten activists met in in front of the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans. They received cold glares from the “doorman” who would not identify himself to the livestreamer when she asked him if he was hotel security. After holding banners and chanting outside the Roosevelt Hotel, the group marched to 1 Shell Square and The Federal Building, passing BP headquarters. The activists then returned to the Roosevelt Hotel while the Joint Energy Industry Association Luncheon was taking place. None of the four arrestees were aware that any instructions not to enter the hotel had been issued by NOPD, the “doorman,” hotel security, or The Louisiana State Police.
The group walked nonchalantly in through the back entrance and passed hotel staff who did not try to stop them and did not ask them for identification. They were given no indication that they were not allowed in the hotel and continued straight up the escalator into the Crescent City Ballroom where a few hundred people were eating lunch. Activists stood in the back of the ballroom and held up signs protesting the Keystone XL Pipeline for about five minutes. One of them was given cheesecake from a guest at the luncheon.
The activists began chanting loudly “Hey, hey! Ho, ho! The Tarsand Pipeline’s got to go” while they exited the ballroom. They descended the escalator and some were manhandled by the “doorman.” It was difficult to all descend the narrow escalator at once while the hotel security and “doorman” were shoving some of the activists, but they did begin leaving the hotel when told to. The livestreamer repeatedly displayed her press pass and asked if the press were allowed. Finally the “doorman” told her the press were not allowed in the Roosevelt Hotel. She filmed the “doorman” directing someone to call 9-11 to report “criminal trespassing.”
Since they had been told to leave, the activists exited the building and congregated on the sidewalk, beginning to disperse. On the sidewalk, where they were no longer “trespassing,” the livestreamer noticed the other citizen journalist who was also displaying a press pass being stopped by a plainclothes Louisiana State Police Officer. The livestreamer asked if the citizen journalist was being detained. No response was given. The plainclothes State Police Officer yelled “Stop” but did not clarify to whom he was issuing the order. The livestreamer asked if they were being detained, but did not get a response.
“You’re a hotel employee,” one of the two activists with the livestreamer yelled. “You’re out of your jurisdiction.”
At that point, none of the three had been told they were being detained so decided to leave The Roosevelt as they had been instructed. The three got in the livestreamer’s car.
As the livestreamer attempted to drive away, the “doorman” ran in front of the car and displayed a Louisiana State Police badge and shouted that he was an officer and if the livestreamer hit him with her car, it would be a felony. The livestreamer immediately stopped the car and turned it off. A police car pulled up and the livestreamer and two activists were told to get out of the car. They complied willingly and stood on the sidewalk asking if they were being detained several times. Finally the plainclothes police officer said they were being detained.
A friend arrived at the scene and was allowed to take down the names and birthdays of the arrestees and secure some of their valuables.
The four arrestees were booked extremely quickly when taken to Orleans Parish Prison. The livestreamer was asked to approach the Sheriff to spell the name of one of the arrestees correctly. The livestreamer overheard the Sheriff telling the Orleans Parish Prison Employee who takes the mug shots that the four arrestees needed to be photographed quickly because there was a request to send their photographs to the FBI. When she asked the Sheriff to confirm this, he said their photographs were being sent to the FBI. He said he was not joking.
Bond was set at $165 per person. Members of Occupy The Stage and a mutual friend posted bond for all four arrestees. Some of the bond was the livestreamer’s rent money which she had left in a safe location.
On November 16, the charges were dropped against all four activists when they agreed to forfeit bond.
They are eager to stare their story, so don't hesitate to Contact Us with questions!
Any donations to repay members of Occupy The Stage for covering bond costs will be greatly appreciated. With love and solidarity,
~ Occupy The Stage
Activists entering The Roosevelt
Activists descending the escalator and leaving The Roosevelt
After jumping in front of car, “doorman” identifies himself as a police officer for the first time and arrests are made.