By Collin Roth
Yesterday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was first to break a story regarding the arrest of an Occupy Milwaukee protester who allegedly entered the downtown Milwaukee M&I Bank and yelled “this is a hostile takeover!”
Until late last night, the identity of the individual was unknown and reports were conflicting about what actually transpired at M&I Bank. But around 9 PM, Occupy Milwaukee issued a press release identifying the individual as Austin Thompson, a 25 year-old African American organizer. Occupy Milwaukee released this statement disputing the narrative of events:
Occupy Milwaukee organized a nonviolent Teach In to protest TARP bailout recipient M&I Bank on Oct. 20, 2011 at 12:00pm at 770 N. Water St.
Participants followed a script and left the building when asked. Police targeted Austin Thompson, an African-American organizer who led the Teach In, and arrested him later outside of the bank.
Its been reported that Mr. Thompson stated to bank tellers that this is a hostile takeover. At no point during this demonstration did Mr. Thompson say these words or use any language that could be construed as threatening, hostile, or that wouldve endangered anyone in the bank.
On the Occupy Milwaukee Facebook page, a 9 minute video was posted showing Thompson rallying a group of protesters in front of the bank with anti-bank rhetoric and calls of “tax the rich.” Around the 7 minute mark on the video, Thompson is taken into custody by Milwaukee Police officers outside the bank after he yells:
“This is a robbery! We are being robbed!”
What the video doesn’t detail is what transpired inside the bank. Occupy Milwaukee admits that the group was inside the bank and were told to leave. It is unclear whether Thompson is being arrested for what occurred inside the bank or for yelling “this is a robbery!” outside the bank.
Austin Thompson is a self-described “economic justice advocate and union organizer,” having worked for Act Now To Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER), a Marxist front group for the Workers World Party, and Wisconsin Jobs Now!, the left-wing organization under investigation for a “BBQ for Votes” scandal during the summer recall elections.
It has been reported on the Occupy Milwaukee Facebook page that Austin Thompson was released on Friday morning.