After nearly a month, the nine occupiers who were detained on the night of March 17th, during the upheaval of the Monroe Park Occupation, appeared in Richmond-Manchester Court before judge D.E. Cheek.
Arriving early, only one person chose to maintain their pro-bono lawyer, while six others eagerly fired their bewildered public defenders. Shortly into the morning’s docket, one of the two occupiers charged solely with trespassing was tried, and plead guilty, for a fine of $25.

After nearly two hours of anticipation, and five of the eight remaining persons being singled out and removed from the courtroom for the most innocuous behavior – nodding, gesturing, changing seats – all were called up to the stand for a trial which was not only entirely laughable, but most certainly emphatic of the people’s power to represent themselves.

Armed with legal precedent, and other vital evidence of the farcical nature of the charges levied against the defendents, the group (while representing only themselves as individuals) moved for dismissal of all charges. The charge of obstruction of justice was soon addressed, and Jones v. Commonwealth, as well as Atkins v. Commonwealth were cited in a most succinct and successful manner, under the argument that no individual actually physically impeded the process of arrest, but only made the arresting officers’ task more difficult by reserving their 5th Amendment right. Already, the youthful commowealth attorney was clearly fazed by the actions of a seemingly motley crew of contemptuous dregs. While the CA attempted to stammer out more inaccuracy and untruth to argue forth that charge, the judge bemusedly rejected his claims after the defendants briefly clarified that the obstruction of justice summons was issued prior to convening with the magistrate, therefore containing the circumstances to the same of the cited precedents.

Moving on to the trespassing charges, the defendants proposed the unconstitutional nature of the statute defining park hours and use of the park accordingly. The clause contained within said statute explained the possibility of use of the park outside of regular hours by obtaining a permit from the mayor’s office, but did not clearly define the requirements or discretion used for acquiring this permit. The judge did not choose to fully recognize this claim, but also did not have the power to rule the statute unconstitutional outright. The defense next proposed that since all conventional and advised forms of action (i.e., contacting city council) had been exhausted, direct action was necessary, as was the presence of the occupation at night to successfully express the dire nature of the concerns being raised. Therefore, it was most simply an exercise of free speech. Also, questions were raised as to the conclusions left to be drawn from the most curious police behavior experienced during the occupation.
The state having very little to say in their favor, and having had much of that belittled by the judge, it was not long before the court settled on the dismissal of obstruction charges, and a $25 dollar fine for all but one trespassing charge, which was dropped due to its own false nature. The remaining seven who were fined are appealing the charge.

Copwatch Video of the Monroe Park Occupation 3/17/11

Here are some Richmond Copwatch videos of the Monroe Park Occupation being busted by the RPD on 3/17/11 on the 10th night of the Occupation of Monroe Park. More videos to come as they get uploaded.Keep checking back for more videos and more updates about the court date. Donations to the Anarchist Black Cross bail fund are also always welcome.

Here is part one, and part 2 of this group of footage. Significantly, all of the parts together provide evidence as to the entrapment of Mo Karn by the police.

Support the Monroe Park Occupiers in Court!!!

There are 9 people from the Monroe Park Occupation with court on Tuesday April 12th at 10am. Please come out to the court building at 9:30am to support them. 7 of the occupiers were arrested and consequently charged with Obstruction of Justice. 2 were detained and charged with trespassing.

Their court is on the Southside at the Manchester Court building at
920 Hull Street, Southside
Richmond, VA 23224

A Humbum Veteran’s Perspective

Cops be thievin!  Warning, if you invoke your right to remain silent you are obstructing justice, and apparently in the city of Richmond if you refuse to talk to the police it gives them the right to steal all your shit.  We were outnumbered and surrounded when the pigs marched on us, but we bravely held our ground.  Eight individuals stood together in an act of civil disobedience that night, in the spirit of Thoreau we could no longer tolerate the unjust actions of a government that has turned against its own people.

We all had our own reasons for standing our ground but for me I was tired of walking away, tired of being harassed and run off every time I laid my head down for a wink of sleep.  For four years I fought on the front lines of a war I never supported and never quite understood.  For fifteen months I patrolled northern Baghdad.  We were sent there to increase Halliburton’s profit margin but we were fighting to bring sanity to a country that had known only madness for generations, to give hope to people who knew only suffering.  Our presence was unwanted but we had no say in the matter so we did what we could to help and protect the civilians who had become caught in the crossfire. But that’s a story for another day, this is the story of a country that tosses out used up soldiers like yesterdays trash.

The transition from military life to the civilian world can be harsh, especially when the economy’s been raped by almost every bank and the gamblers on Wall Street.  Suffering from a traumatic brain injury, post traumatic stress disorder, a body broken from the hardships of war, and with no job skills that aren’t combat related, it’s rather hard for a returning veteran to get even the most basic work.  The Veteran’s Administration has become so overburdened that it takes at least a year to a year and a half before they make a determination on a disability case.  Like many veterans I’m stuck in purgatory, unable to find work I’m forced to live on the streets and try to survive till some faceless bureaucrat decides my fate.  It’s not an easy life and it’s further complicated by Richmond’s decision to wage a war on homeless people.  I’ve been living in a car and on the ground, trying to find warmth wherever I can in the midst of a cold and bitter winter.  Every step of the way I’ve been hounded by the police, some of them have been sympathetic to my plight but the majority of them harass me and hurl veiled threats in my face.  It takes every ounce of self control in my body to contain the rage these scumfucks inspire in me.  Deep inside me there lies a beast which the Army trained and conditioned to destroy every foe in its path. It’s fangs are long and it howls ravenously as it tries to break through the bars of the cage I keep it contained in.  Every time a cop rudely awakens me and tries to run me off it roars with rage and curses me for my cowardice. That fiery lion within my soul would much rather go down in a brutal battle than once again slink off into the shadows like a cowed beast.

I finally found some measure of sanctuary amongst a group of people who organised a resistance.  In Monroe Park the battle lines had been drawn and I was glad to join them on the front lines in solidarity.  Finally I had found a place where I was treated like an equal, where I wasn’t looked down on like gutter trash.  It’s ironic how so many wealthy “patriotic” Americans will say they support the troops till they’re blue in the face but when a homeless veteran passes them on the streets and says hello they’re quick to look the other way and pretend you don’t exist.  Those who are quick to raise the war banner and send the youth off to their deaths hate nothing more than having to face those who have been mentally and psychologically scarred from fighting on their behalf.  Yet it’s the anarchists and activists who loudly voice their dissent of the war who welcomed me in and treated me as an equal without a second thought.  For a long time I’ve felt like a ghost passing unseen through the world and finally someone had guided me back into the land of the living.  I had been pacing Death’s trail and the only solace I had was that She would find me soon and free me from this world of suffering.  Staying in the camp renewed my hope and refreshed my spirit.  In the camp I found kindred spirits, a diverse group of individuals who brought a smile to my lips and nourished my brain with engaging conversation.  They also gave me a new mission, a much needed raison d’etre.  In Iraq I had fought to give a people who had long been oppressed a chance to finally have their voices heard, now I will pick up the role of warrior again to fight on behalf of those who have long been oppressed and passed over in my own homeland.

For me the camp was the end of the road, a tribe was assembling and a village was growing where all the displaced people of the city were welcomed with open arms.  This was a place where I could draw a line in the sand, a place where I could  proudly take a stand in defence of something I believed in with every bit of my heart.  Of course in the eyes of the powers that be this could not stand.  They could not bear the presence of an organised resistance on behalf of the poor and the landless.  The last thing the city wanted was a rallying point to give hope to those it was striving to sweep under the rug.  They went to great lengths to make sure the people of the city turned a blind eye to what’s been happening to the homeless, they wanted to force us to the unseen corners of the city in the hopes that we would wither away into nothingness and be forgotten.

It was no surprise to me when a messenger came to us in the middle of that fateful night with a warning of the forces rallying against us.  Like Paul Revere riding alone through the night to warn of the coming redcoats he had rushed to us from a homeless camp that had just been busted up by the police to warn us that they were coming for us next.  We didn’t have much time to rally a defence, within ten minutes police cars were pulling up all around the park and a plane was circling in the sky.  Within twenty minutes at least a hundred cops had us surrounded and demanded that we retreat from the park so they could bulldoze our camp and destroy the symbol of hope that we had created.  This, however, was where eight of us had decided to make our stand.  We each had our own reasons, but we each knew what we were doing was right.  Like the great Kiowa warriors who staked themselves to the ground so they couldn’t retreat we chose our spots and refused to flee as our enemies overtook us.  As the police advanced on us the beast inside me raged, it wanted to lash out, to go down in a blaze of glory.  The only thing that kept it in check was the thought of spending the rest of my life in a cage.  I made it quite clear that I wasn’t leaving the park and three police officers grabbed me, handcuffed me, and put me in the back of a paddywagon.

When they arrested me I was wearing my cavalry stetson and my Army field jacket.  They despised me for proudly wearing my stetson with its shiny sergeants rank in defiance of them.  The stetson has had many different meanings for many different people throughout the years.  For the cavalry it is a symbol of a tradition hundreds of years old, of bravely leading the charge against the enemy, even in the face of overwhelming odds.  For the American Indians it was a symbol of invasion, displacement, oppression, and genocide.  Hundreds of thousands of soldiers have fallen in battle wearing it, sometimes fighting fascism and tyranny, sometimes spreading imperialist exploitation and destroying indigenous cultures.  I seek to attach a new meaning to this symbol, a symbol of a new cavalry, a cavalry of the First Earth Battalion that will lead the charge in the streets to fight to defend the oppressed and the powerless wherever they are exploited.  The police stole my stetson that night, they took it as a trophy of their victory on that night.  But that was merely one battle and the war is far from over, though they have tried to steal that symbol from us the stetson shall soon be worn again as a symbol of defiance wherever tyranny may rear its ugly head.

Sgt. Fargason

Whiskey Troop, First Earth Battalion

An occupier’s account

When 50+ officers descended upon the us at midnight on the 10th day of the occupation, I rushed back across the park to camp, clutching a cell phone with which to contact every friend, aqcuaintance, and concerned party. When I rejoined my dear and committed friends, we frantically decided upon a plan of action. It was decided that eight of us would not leave, but stand to be arrested, so that others could gather belongings and disband to safety. We stood in a line, brazen and glaring through the floodlights at the dense perimeter of fascist oppression. Soon, we were detained by crowd control squads and taken through alleyways to eagerly vacant wagons.
After singing away the ride to lock-up, we were pressed and threatened to identify ourselves, as if our minds entertained and idea of fear and worry that they might exploit. After I was identified via my fingerprint records, I became seperated from the others, wathing the next of us pressed with the same rhetoric of intimidation as I was escorted to my first holding cell. After a brief attempt at rest, I was moved again at 4:00 AM to a larger cell with a group of other recently apprehended individuals, many of whom were fearful and considerably less equipped to collect themselves. I was seated next to one of my compatriates, Derek, and we speculated on the condition of our friends over a meager portion of applesauce and shit-on-a-shingle. The justice system would undoubtedly drive anyone of a certain dietary persuasion to the brink of starvation.
After dragging hours of anticipation, we rejoined the other in another dark wagon and were bounced along to the holding cells of the courthouse. Together in one room, seperated into others by pairs, another cell together, until finally being brought one by one into a despondent and bewildered courtroom for arraignment. After being indiviually and diversely prodded and passed off, we waited for hours yet again to be seperated one last time, equally unaware of what might be transpiring in the outside world and who might be fighting for our release. We were sure, though, that our friends and allies would not fail us, even if the public should dismiss us once more.
Those of us who had only just been identified were transported back to lock-up for intial procssing. Derek and I, however, took another crowded, unlit to the city jail, whereupon another length of time transpired in the comfort of a meager standing room-only bull pen. Among the company of 30 or so other restless folks awaiting commitment, most of whom faced an undeserved fate much more grave than our own, we received nothing short of candor and appreciation from those whom society might deem unsavory at best. It was an settling yet reassuring period to precede the degrading strip search and gear assignment gruffly conducted by our aggressive and demeaning captors. Just as the two of us were patiently awaiting a far less comfortable confinement, hypothesizing why our cohorts had not yet joined us, we were instructed to remove our jumpers and return our bedrolls. After passing on our toiletries to those in need, we waited one last time in the hole to be bonded out. Derek was released at 6:30 PM and I finally regained freedom at 10:00 PM for my net worth of 75 dollars.
Reunited with my fellow occupiers at last, we spent the remainder of St. Patty’s Day at the lovingly crowded Wingnut Anarchist Collective, with a gracious helping of ramen pad thai and a tattoo party, songs of resistance and liberation resonating through the house. Relief and good news were passed along as we slowly turned in for another day of rewarding work – our spirits not only unbroken, but reinforced and filled with the most unbreakable will.

Monroe Park meeting cancelled at last minute

The meeting scheduled for tonight at the Carillion in Byrd Park regarding the impact of the Monroe Park Occupation was cancelled. Several supporters of the occupation came out to witness and speak at this meeting while our friends and allies are still fighting to be released from lockup, but to our curiosity the meeting place was deserted.

We then learned via phone that the meeting was cancelled. And not only cancelled, but erased:

The City has released a statement denying a meeting at Dogwood Dell (see below), and CBS 6 has edited its story that included information about tonight’s meeting.  In fact, WTVR removed Charles Samuels from the story altogether.  It previously said, “City Councilman Charles Samuels is holding a 5 pm meeting at the Dogwood Dell in Byrd Park Thursday to discuss the potential impact.”

According to the city:

Councilman Samuels has scheduled no meetings tonight regarding Monroe Park

WHAT Contrary to any misleading information being distributed, Councilman Charles Samuels, Richmond City Council, North Central 2nd District, has no meeting scheduled tonight regarding Monroe Park.

CONTACT For more information, please contact Councilman Charles Samuels, at 804.646.6532 or by email, at

This seems a little too convenient, and par for the course as well for Charles Samuels. Samuels and the few pro-park gentrification supporters avoid direct communication and accountability to the public wherever possible. Perhaps this is because of his last public forum, wherein the foregone conclusion he drew from the public’s participation failed entirely to address the overwhelming sympathy of the attendees: that the park should stay open.

Despite Samuels’ inattendance, a speech was still delivered addressing Monroe Park and the Monroe Park Occupation. It went as follows:


The Monroe Park occupation agreed that before any negotiations with the city government could occur the Richmond Police Department needed to immediately cease destroying Richmond’s homeless camps. This very basic concession, which any person with a heart knows to be reasonable and good, was one the city refused to bend on, and THAT is why the occupation in the park was bulldozed yesterday.

Busting up homeless camps involves identifying areas where homeless people set up tents and shelters, and, when they are abandoned during the day, entering them to collect and throw away all of those residents’ possessions found there. This is an inhumane activity that the police engage in even in the dead cold of winter, often enlisting as labor people performing “community service” hours. For many, arriving at a site where they depend on a meager bedroll to provide a modicum of warmth and dryness and find it absent -especially in snow and freezing rains- is tantamount to murder.

If the city government will not help its poor, it must at least strive not to harm them. The closing of Monroe Park, the removal of services from the downtown area, the aggressive expansion of VCU, the ever-expanding criminalization of poverty, homelessness, and mental illness, and the continual allocation of Richmond’s resources to upper class outsiders at the expense of actual Richmonders, its veterans and its poor, are all symptomatic of an attitude of careless disregard for human welfare and the lower class.

Because we are human beings with hearts in our chests, we MUST condemn Charles Samuels, the Richmond Police Department, and ALL parties of the city government responsible for these atrocities and tell them we WILL NOT stand for it.

These people do NOT represent us.
These people do NOT protect or serve us.
These people should NOT educate our youth.

Charles Samuels, you were winning because so far you have controlled the terms of the debate. We are reasonable people but with no avenue for open and public communication we are left with few options rather than to take our message to the streets. That is what we did when we occuped Monroe Park.

Your office gives you power: you may have crushed our structures, you may have jailed our friends, but you cannot keep those little truths under wraps forever.

We will continue fight until Richmond resembles the world we have built in our hearts.

I will continue to fight until my city is one I’m not ashamed to call HOME.

Thank you.

Meeting TONIGHT to Keep Monroe Park Open- The Struggle Continues

Charles Samuels (City Councilman for 2nd District) has called a meeting at 5pm today at Dogwood Dell (the Carillon) in regards to the recent Monroe Park Occupation. Please help us take this opportunity to tell Charles Samuels that we won’t stop taking what is ours or acting in defiance of classist attempts to gentrify public spaces.

The Monroe Park occupation agreed that before any negotiations with the city government could occur the Richmond Police Department needed to immediately cease destroying Richmond’s homeless camps. The city refused to bend on this issue, and THAT is why the occupation in the park was bulldozed yesterday.

Charles Samuels has been winning so far because he has controlled the terms of the debate. We are reasonable people but with no avenue for open and public communication we are left with few options rather than to take our message to the streets. That is what we did when we occuped Monroe Park.

We MUST condemn Charles Samuels, the Richmond Police Department, and ALL parties of the city government responsible for or complicit with the continued criminalization of homelessness and mental illness in Richmond.

Occupy Everything!

We don’t negotiate with fascists!