Occupy Wall Street protester Randy Credico is one of the estimated 200 protesters who were arrested as part of the NYPD's early Tuesday morning raid of the movement's encampment in Manhattan's Zuccotti Park.
Credico says he was picked up off the sidewalk by the NYPD, arrested, thrown in the back of a police van, and taken to the department's headquarters at One Police Plaza in Manhattan. He offered an exclusive account of his experience to IBTimes Wednesday afternoon.
Credico, 57, has been no stranger to incarceration ever since the Occupy Wall Street protest movement began two months ago.
The New York City resident, who has been involved in OWS since shortly after it began and has spent a number of nights at Zuccotti Park, says the NYPD has arrested him four times since September.
A former director of the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice, and Democratic primary challenger against U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer in 2010, he purposely courted two of those collars during civil disobedience displays at city police precincts, he said, adding that Dr. Cornel West was a fellow cellmate after one of the two arrests.
But Credico said Tuesday was the second time since Occupy started that he has been snatched off a public sidewalk and arrested.
Shortly after midnight Tuesday, Credico got out of bed and headed to the subway. He planned to take the train to a stop near Zuccotti, but the city had shut down service below Canal headed downtown at that moment, so he got out at Canal and headed south.
He made it to Broadway and Chambers Street, then walked head-on into a steady stream of evicted protesters walking north in search of a new home, or at least a place to sit down and process the misfortune that had befallen them.
The procession was something of a protest march, with the participants playing drums, yelling slogans and more as they meandered through the streets of downtown Manhattan, skirting the police at nearly every turn.
"Everyone was going north at this point, and sort of like horizontal cigar smoke we took all these different routes trying to avoid police," Credico said. "We were marching like a forced Napoleon march. These cops couldn't keep up with the marchers because they were so out of shape. We were marching and yelling slogans and trying to regroup."
But the fun abruptly ended for Credico when he says a police officer set his sights on him at the corner of Broadway and Prince Street in SoHo.
"A couple of people got arrested right there on the corner and a white-shirt cop on the corner who looked frustrated - a white guy with a moustache - looked at me and said 'arrest him,'" Credico, a former comedian who appeared on the Tonight Show at age 27, explained. "I said 'Why?' He said, 'You stepped off the sidewalk.'"
So he was thrown once again into the back of a paddywagon along with several cops and, he says, only one other protester. The cuffs were too tight, and there was a tension in the air that was palpable and thick. It was unlike any of his previous arrests.
"You really felt nervous at this point. You felt like you were being arrested in a third-world country," he said. "There was a lot of testosterone among the police."
They rode along the narrow downtown streets for a while until the officers, who Credico described as "new-jack cops," admitted they were lost and needed directions to One Police Plaza, which Credico provided.
He was not injured during his arrest, he was only hit with disorderly conduct rather than the more-serious resisting arrest charge, and he was only in jail from 3 a.m. to 8 a.m. Tuesday, but Credico said many arrested protesters fared far worse.
"One man had a bump the size of a grapefruit on his head sustained at the hands of a police officer, and the protesters had to demand he be given medical treatment," according to Credico.
After police eventually relented and let him go to the hospital, Credico said the man was found to have a concussion.
"Several people who were arrested at Zuccotti still had bicycle U-locks around their necks, which they had used to anchor themselves to objects at the park, and which police officers were unable to remove," Credico said.
The food was terrible as well, Credico said, consisting of a trash bag full of what he thought would be sandwiches but turned out to be just bread stuck together in individual stacks.
And a number of the protesters were still incarcerated late Wednesday, and they were likely going to have to remain there for at least another day.
But the mood was upbeat in the cells, Credico said, and there was electricity in the air.
"It was a like a shot of meth, we were so energized," he said. "In spite of our bumps and bruises and cuts we were singing and chanting and whistling the theme song from 'Bridge on the River Kwai' and the cops were going crazy."
And he plans to risk arrest again Thursday morning, when he will be back on the street protesting once more.