We closed down the HART building for a hot minute today, beginning at 11:30a.m.
Kevyn & I were strolling from the plaza to the Capitol with about 4 or 5 other people plus 2 legal observers, when we arrived at the HART building just as folks were starting to chant. In other words, we were LATE!
We went thru security to see about 40 or 50 people marching around the rotunda, shouting "We are the 99% and we are against all wars & wall street".
Kevyn joined that group and I left to join the team that was going to drop our "End Wars NOW" banner from the 5th floor balcony. I had to hurry.
I rush to the elevator, get in, and an arm snakes around the closing door to push all the buttons! It is one of the activists whose action was to jam the elevators up, disrupting business as usual.
I jump out and race up 5 flights of stairs to see two young men from my team being detained by police in a corner of the balcony, with the banner bunched up on the ground about 5 feet away, in the other corner.
I walk up to the banner, swiftly gather it up in my arms, and head around to the other side of the balcony. I escape the officers that have detained the guys but run smack into two other police officers. They grab the banner and attempt to jerk it out of my arms but I hold on tight.
I know my rights. They cannot take my banner out of my arms.
They are both female officers. I tell them again they cannot take my banner. They tell me I cannot demonstrate inside the Hart Building. I tell them I am just walking around.
They finally let go and I begin to walk shadowed by two angry police officers almost tripping over my heels. People part to let us walk thru. I'm scanning, trying to escape.
We finally get to the opposite side of the building from where I first entered and rescued the banner. There are no people here, or other police so I attempt to talk with the officers.
I ask them to protect my First Amendment Rights of Free Speech instead of the rules of the rich. I ask them to head the opposite way and give me two minutes, just a little photo opportunity.
They refuse. They have no sense of humor - or sense of commadre-ness. They want to be tuffer then their male counterparts.
I want to save our $50 and much time spent banner.
As I am negotiating and they are steaming, a breathless white male police officer comes running up to us. He points to my banner and claims it was confiscated by him earlier.
I am surprised as it looked to me when I scooted in earlier, like the guys were given a warning and they obeyed, NOT risking arrest. I insist this is my banner and it was taken from me. He insists it's evidence.
He asks if I am willing to be arrested rather than turn over the banner. I say of course. The women police officers move to put on their rubber gloves and he backs off a little. I reiterate, it is my banner, it was taken from me (the guys did take it!), and I am not demonstrating (right at that moment...).
The officer asks me if I am ready to leave the building with my banner. Of course I respond. One of the female officers proclaims I need to be escorted out of the building and she will do it. I smile sweetly and push the button for the elevator.
I am watching for a moment to escape but she is on me like white on rice. The male officer also accompanies me down to the ground floor and points to the door which I entered earlier. Kevyn sees me and we leave the building together.
The cop tries to give me a warning but I am totally ignoring her. I give Kevyn the banner, thankful that she has responded so quickly. I return to the action inside.