I chatted briefly with musician Justin Remer, whose Brooklyn apartment was raided by the NYPD on Monday morning in an incident that was first reported on Gawker and sure looks from all angles like a pre May Day intimidation tactic. I was curious about how the experience felt.
“At around six-fifteen I was woken up. I sleep in a lofted bed, and there’s a police officer standing in my bedroom shining a flashlight in my face. He woke me up and said ‘get down in the living room,” he said. Remer dressed, grabbed his ID as requested, and joined his housemates in the living room.
He said the officers–about six of them–took the residents’ identification and began trying to match them with a list of warrants.
Finally they asked if there was a “Joe Ryan” in the apartment, and found their sought-for match. They told apartment resident (and another musician) Ryan, who had an old outstanding violation for an open container that he would have to come with them and promptly arrested him.
But then, said Remer, they tipped their hand and asked the third housemate, Zachary Dempster, to come talk to them in the other room.
“We have a little poster on our bridge that said ‘Strike, May 1st.’ And they said ‘see, look! There’s a strike poster’ in passing,” said Remer. While they questioned Dempster, “They spent five minutes asking me if I was involved in any [May Day] activities, if I had any plans.”
At this point, the bleary roommates had realized “they had taken Joe away on this five or six year-old open container violation just to get in the house.” Remer assumes “that they ran all the open warrants on the house. They arrested an upstairs neighbor for an open container, Joe told me they asked both of them about Zach in the van.”
And yet throughout it all, the officers couldn’t acknowledge that they were there for anything more than a trivial violation. “They sort of had to keep up the idea that they had brought six cops to deal with an open container. I don’t know what they were hoping to find,” Remer said.
I asked Remer if this experience, which personally seemed horrifying to me, was frightening to him. “It was–I actually found myself shivering involuntarily,” he said. ” Which is part of the reason we were sort of so out of it, we didnt realize until they were long gone–‘wait did anyone let them in? They must have busted down the door.’”
Remer said he felt that the raid was “pretty ridiculous and extreme. People should feel that they can protest without fear of someone busting down their door and taking them away. It was overkill.”
This was confirmed when he went out to Union Square on May Day and felt that the actual protest was peaceful and mellow. “The word should be out that the NYPD is using these tactics,” he said.