Occupy protest at Crabtree mall yields six arrests

Charges include trespassing

tmcdonald@newsobserver.comNovember 26, 2011 

— City police and Crabtree Valley Mall security officers arrested six people, some of them associated with the Occupy Raleigh movement, after a protest staged before a crowd of holiday shoppers at the mall Friday afternoon.

One of the six, Patrick M. O'Neill of Garner, stood on a stage in the food court and spoke for about 10 minutes before security officers told him to leave, a friend said.

"He just started preaching, saying, 'Folks, why are you spending all your hard-earned money on this junk that you don't need? And giving it to people who just turn around and buy your government with it?'" said Marsh B. Hardy of Raleigh, who said he accompanied a group of about 20 who took part in the protest.

According to arrest warrants, charges of second-degree trespassing and disorderly conduct were filed against:

O'Neill, 55, of 124 Perdue St. in Garner; Jennifer Anne Schradie, 45, of Oakland, Calif.; Emily Galvin, 31, of 4720 Hoyle Drive in Raleigh; Charles Hancock, 26, of 4801 Liverpool Lane in Raleigh; Paul Roger Ehrlich, 50, of 406 Kent Drive in Cary, and Derek Cronmiller, 35, of 4410 Cottage Stone Drive in Raleigh.

Four of the protesters were released from the Wake County jail after promising a magistrate they would appear in district court to answer the charges.

"I will be proud to appear in court," said Hancock, who was among the four released on a written promise.

The Wake magistrate set $500 bail for Galvin's release because she has a pending case in connection with her arrest on Oct. 15, when Raleigh police charged her and 19 other members of Occupy Raleigh with trespassing on the state Capitol grounds.

The magistrate set bail for O'Neill, an activist and writer, at $1,500 because he has a pending case in Alamance County Superior Court and because he has been arrested numerous times in several states for trespassing, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, the magistrate said.

"I am an honorable citizen," O'Neill said about the bail amount. "Bail should be used as a guarantee that I will return to court. It should not be used as punishment."

The Occupy Raleigh demonstrations are among many nationwide held in sympathy with Occupy Wall Street, where people began gathering in September to protest the uneven distribution of wealth and power in the country.

One of the arresting officers told the Wake magistrate that police learned Thursday that Occupy Raleigh intended to stage a "flash mob" protest at the mall, which is private property.

The officer said a Raleigh police sergeant and captain went to visit the Occupy Raleigh members on the south side of the state Capitol grounds on East Morgan Street. The officer told the magistrate that the Occupy Raleigh members were told that if "they did anything at the mall other than shop or eat, they would be arrested."

The Occupy Raleigh members arrived at the mall shortly before 3 p.m. Friday and headed for the food court, where O'Neill quickly drew an audience.

"There were hundreds of people in the food court, the place was packed," Hardy said. "A lot of people came forward with cell phones and videotaping Patrick and joining in the chants. 'Human need, not corporate greed.'"

Hardy said the protesters complied with prior warnings from police and mall officers not to bring signs into the mall.

Security officers escorted O'Neill outside and then arrested him, and arrested supporters after they asked why he was being arrested, Hardy said.

Ehrlich said he hoped the incident would draw attention to the limits placed on public free expression.

"It really had a little bit of that creepy, witch-hunt corporate power getting too much control over democracy, which is the exact point of what this Occupy movement has been giving voice to," he said.

Police stated in arrest warrants that the speech was "plainly likely to provoke immediate violent retaliation and thereby cause a breach of peace."

McDonald: 919-829-4533

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