Local News

Meeker wants answers about 'Occupy Raleigh' arrests

Posted November 1, 2011 1:08 p.m. EDT
Updated November 1, 2011 3:28 p.m. EDT

— The capital city's mayor wants to know what role Raleigh police played in arrests last week of several anti-Wall Street protesters on the sidewalk next to the Capitol building grounds.

Capitol Police officers, with the assistance of Raleigh police, arrested eight people on Thursday after they didn't comply with officers' instructions to remove their belongings from the sidewalk.

"I just want to know what the scope of our obligations is," Mayor Charles Meeker said Tuesday. "Apparently, we’re supposed to respond all the time. I want to be sure it’s understood exactly what the rules are so the City Council knows and so our public knows."

A video clip posted on YouTube that shows officers arresting a disabled woman prompted Meeker's questions, he said.

"The videotape shows that our police and the Capitol Police were acting very professionally, so there’s no issue there," he said. "The question is, 'Why is someone who is disabled, sitting on a chair, arrested?' Is there more to that story? Is there a better reason for that?"

Raleigh Police Chief Harry Dolan, City Manager Russell Allen and the city attorney were expected to address Meeker's concerns at Tuesday's City Council meeting and to talk about what role the department might play in any future Occupy Raleigh actions.

Three of the eight Occupy Raleigh demonstrators were charged with misdemeanor second-degree trespassing. Five others are charged with resisting police.

The Department of Administration wanted to clear the sidewalk of coolers, chairs, tables and other items. Although most people complied, three wouldn't leave their chairs, and others surrounded them as police approached, a state Capitol Police spokesman said.

"This is playing out across the country. On the one hand, the protests need to be orderly," Meeker said. "On the other hand, people ought to be allowed to express their rights. We need to have the right balance here, and I just want to be sure we have it."

Demonstrators posted plans on Twitter Tuesday afternoon to occupy the meeting Tuesday evening after a gathering at the state Capitol at 5:30 p.m.