I Was Arrested at Occupy Bronx—for Writing About It

Journalist Carla Murphy had planned to cover a small protest in the Bronx last Saturday and then head to brunch—but she went to jail instead.

12.10.11 7:23 AM ET


A week after New York City police commissioner Raymond W. Kelly ordered officers not to interfere with journalists covering the Occupy protests, I found myself sitting in a cage in a back room of the 40th Precinct
 in the Bronx staring at a travel-size white bottle of Razac Hand & Body Lotion. My workday had taken an improbable turn; I’d been arrested. So now here I was, fixating on a bottle of lotion, wondering
 why it was there, thinking of it as "free" because it sat on a ledge outside the black iron-mesh cage, and worse, imagining the many uses of lotion in a jail. Better to pass the time trying to
 accept my present circumstances than trying to figure out the absurd.

I’d been covering the Occupy movement beyond Wall Street, and the Bronx had so far held eight weekly general assemblies of its own. This past Saturday, there was a planned 11 a.m. rally to bring attention to
 the city’s October bulldozing of the Morning Glory community garden, a long-abandoned lot that area residents had taken over two years ago for the garden. The lot was now grassy and fenced-in.

I thought that I’d report for an hour or so and then meet a friend for an afternoon brunch. Less than 10 minutes after arriving, however, I was in handcuffs.


 When I stepped out of the 149th Street station at 11 a.m., my first time at that sprawling five-lane intersection, I found the protest site—a sidewalk beside an empty lot—easily because of a heavier-than-expected police presence. Early reports had indicated
 the opposite. I didn’t expect to see an officer of rank surrounded by 11 cops, four cars and a police van. I remember thinking, There’re more cops here than protesters.