Audra had the pleasure of interviewing Danny Johnson on May 30th, 2012. Danny is a member of Occupy Walk USA, a family of Occupiers who are traveling the USA on foot, in an effort to raise awareness of the Occupy Movement’s mission and to reach out to everyday American citizens in solidarity. Occupy Walk USA started in San Diego and will end in New York City. A three thousand mile journey! For more info on Occupy Walk USA, visit http://occupywalkusa.org/
A transcription of Danny’s interview with Audra is below:
Audra: Hey! This is Audra again with Occupy News Radio and if you are sick of hearing my voice, I am to so please give us a call or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can get other people on the air, some other programming solidified and have this ultimately be the people’s radio. For people, by people.
We have an interview with DJ from Occupy Walk USA. He was at the NATO Summit, the NATO protest this last week in Chicago and he was arrested with his charges dropped. He is telling us his story and then we will move on to talk more about Occupy Walk USA. We hope that you enjoy and again, hope to hear from you, email@example.com. Enjoy.
Danny Johnson: Hello.
Danny: I’m doing good, I’m doing awesome actually.
Audra: Good, good to hear. So I was thinking it would be nice to talk to you for a little while and skip down your experience and what happened and how you felt about it and how you are now.
Danny: Great. Well, where do you want me to start actually? I’ll just start at we were at the Immigration Rights March and basically there were a lot of police there for this small group, I think it was a week before the NATO Summit, so there were a lot more people at the NATO Summit than at the Immigration March. So after they arrested the priest and a girl we had started walking down the street and we totally left where the march was going. I was crossing a crosswalk and this police officer came and grabbed the back of my forearm and I told him to get off me and I moved my forearm to break his hold on me. He was like, oh no, you’re under arrest now! He put my arms behind my back and took me down to the police station where they interviewed me. They read me my rights and stuff and I refused to talk to them. Once I went to court, the next day, there’s this elaborate story about how I was running up and down the street yelling obscenities and how the police officer came up from behind me and told me to get on the sidewalk and that I refused and that I turned around and punched him in his chest and knocked him off his bike. It was totally falsified. I did 7 days in jail and the last day, which I think was last Tuesday, I went before a judge and the police officer came with this whole other story about how I was running up and down the street but instead of saying I punched him in his chest, he said I elbowed him in his chest. He never once mentioned that he was on his bike or anything like that I knocked him off his bike. The judge, I was so happy, cut [the police officer] off from his story. [The judge told the officer that] it was as though this young man, even though he is a vile, ill-witted protester he doesn’t need to go to prison for something that seems like you can’t get your story straight on. So he basically threw my case out and dropped the charges and I was set free that day.
Audra: So do you think the judge felt as though it was falsified allegations?
Danny: Well, he pretty much said so by asking, “Can’t you get your story straight?” [to the officer]. From the judge’s mouth, he felt it was falsified.
Audra: What were the charges?
Danny: The charges were obstruction of justice and aggravated assault on a police officer.
Audra: and none of which were true?
Danny: None of which were true. The whole thing about it is the people we were with had all of this on film so we were just waiting to get that chance to prove that this officer perjured himself. My whole jail experience, like I said before was awesome because the people who are above the officers in charge, they think they can quite Occupy by putting them in jails, charging us with these bogus charges and throwing us in jail. It’s not going to work because once we get in jail, we have all these people that are in jail. Many of them minorities and we teach them. We give them knowledge. For instance, when I was in jail, we shut the t.v. off and had sit-ins. Mostly African-Americans were in jail and they did not understand why we had all these people protesting NATO. So Mike and another protester who was a medic for Occupy Walk USA and I had teach-ins and shared the knowledge that we’ve been accumulating for the last 7 months while in Occupy. So my whole experience in jail – even with the sheriffs, let me say, the deputies up in Cook County were totally awesome. They didn’t treat any of us bad. They treated me like a regular human being. I don’t know how they treated the other people but they treated me pretty good. They gave me a chance to really voice my opinion about the system and while we were having the sit-ins, we would have one or two deputies in there listening to what we were saying. We were also making them aware of how this society is and they already know because their pensions and their livelihoods are getting slashed just like everyone else. It has just taken a little longer time because in capitalism, when capitalism consumes itself, it starts from the bottom and starts going up. That’s what we are seeing now. The poor and the people of little wealth are basically getting consumed by these people with mass amounts of wealth. So it was awesome! It was pretty good.
Audra: And I am sorry that you were arrested and I’m sorry that others were arrested with false allegations. With false evidence. In my opinion, it sounds as though they are doing that to instill some intimidation and fear so that people do not express and do not exercise their 1st Amendment rights.
Audra: And you, being one of the ones that was arrested, it’s nice being able to speak with you and from me, thank you for being out there.
Danny: No problem
Audra: We sat outside of the jail waiting for you guys to get out and to support you and show our solidarity and there was a march coming in. The chant was “Our Passion For Freedom Is Stronger Than Your Prisons” and I got goosebumps. I don’t know if you guys were able to hear that but there were a lot of people supporting you and I’m glad that you were able to get out on bail. That’s awesome.
Danny: Well, yeah, I never got out on bail. I know people were trying to bail me out but what happened was, when I went to court, they dropped the charges so the bail money they had for me, we used it to bail Mikey. So he’s still out in Chicago and he goes to court on June 5th I believe. Hopefully they will drop his charges to. I just want to say one thing to the Occupiers who do get incarcerated is that that’s our time to work from the bottom up. It’s our time to educate the people who really do not know about Occupy or the people who just see it on t.v. and think it’s just protesters out there wanting to get beat up by the police. i want people to take the time to educate the people with little education. That’s what I say.
Audra: That’s beautiful. That’s really beautiful. That is what we are doing and I am glad that you are able to do that inside and outside. Now what about some of the other people that were in jail with you that got arrested on the 20th and the days surrounding that, how many Occupiers or protesters were in jail with you?
Danny: There was this one guy, Chris. He was one of the four people that were arrested before on their way to the NATO Summit, the police stopped them and booked them. Chris had a $100 bail and he refused to pay it because the money would go back into the system [inaudible]. While I was in there, he sat and talked. There was another guy in there who was an Occupier from Chicago. He had one of the police officers ask him to take a banner down from where he had put it up and he refused so they arrested him for Obstruction of Justice. it’s all these Obstruction of Justices that was all bullshit. Excuse my language but it was crazy.
Audra: Yeah, it was. It was a very intimidating police state experience for me. To be there. I know you have a WePay account set up for NATO