CORRECTION: The original version of this story incorrectly stated that graduate student Josh Davis was inside the Yates Motor Co. building at the time of the handcuffing. Davis was not inside of the building at the time of the handcuffing, but outside on the sidewalk. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.
Caroline Johnson isn’t an Occupy protester, and she said she usually supports the police.
But the UNC senior is confused by their actions in breaking up protestors who took over the former Yates Motor Company building at 419 W. Franklin St. Sunday.
“In this case, it really makes them look like the bad guys,” she said — but she said she doesn’t know if that’s true.
Johnson joined protesters and media at a Monday afternoon town press conference where officials explained the Chapel Hill Police raid on the building and arrest of seven protestors. Police pointed guns and rifles at and handcuffed protesters during the action.
“I came to see why they used such big guns,” Johnson said.
Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue and Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt led Monday’s conference, where they defended the choice and said they made the decision after 18 hours of weighing options.
Blue said the image of police pointing rifles is not one town officials want to convey.
“We had no sense of what threats lurked in that building.”
Protestors carried posters and interrupted officials’ statements at the conference. They said that they were the ones who came under threat.
“It was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life,” said Hannah Shaw, a protester who said a gun was pointed in her face during the raid.
A few occupiers also attended a town hearing Monday night where officials took questions about the incident, but the meeting wasn’t confrontational.
Blue said police tried to contact protesters Saturday after learning that about 70 had occupied the building.
But protesters threatened officers and chanted “ACB,” which police learned stands for “all cops are bastards.” Blue said some wore masks and that known anarchists were in the group.
He said they didn’t warn occupiers before moving in for fear of drawing a larger crowd.
No weapons were found on scene, but rocks and flammable materials were, Blue said.
“We do believe our deliberate response was appropriate.”
But Shaw said a warning would have been just as effective.
“If I had been sitting on a public sidewalk and someone had said, ‘If you don’t move off this public sidewalk you’re going to get an assault rifle shoved in your face, I would have moved off that sidewalk.’”
And Ryan Jarrell, one of the protestors arrested, agreed.
“I was shocked by the police action simply because no one else had talked to us before then.”
Attendees also voiced concern that two reporters were handcuffed.
Josh Davis, a UNC graduate student and freelancer who was handcuffed in the protest, has said he feels his First Amendment rights were violated.
But Cathy Packer, a media law professor in the School of Journalism, wrote in an email that reporters don’t have a right to enter private property without owner consent.
The mayor said the occupiers were distinct from Occupy Chapel Hill in Peace and Justice Plaza.
And Shaw said “occupy everywhere” has an unsure future.
She said while some might merge with Occupy Chapel Hill, she doubted everyone could fit.
According to a Monday release, those arrested on charges of misdemeanor breaking and entering were: Ellen Crawford, 23, of Richmond, Va.; Kassandra Ofray, 21, of Pittsboro; Jack Ryan Jarrell, 24, and David Maliken, 24, of Carrboro; and Eva Jones, 22, Daniel Regenscheit, 27, and Monica Ganguly, 29, of Chapel Hill.
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