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Protesters say mass arrests prove Occupy Las Vegas no lapdog

Updated Friday, Nov. 18, 2011 | 12:02 a.m.

Occupy Las Vegas protesters arrested

KSNV coverage of 21 Occupy Las Vegas demonstrators being arrested, Nov. 17, 2011.

Reacting to stories that they are so in cahoots with police and authorities that they behave like little more than casino bellmen, 21 Occupy Las Vegas protesters sat in the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard this morning intending to be cited.

Occupy Las Vegas is an offshoot of what’s become a disparate national movement that is focusing mostly on big money in politics — they want it out of the political process. In Las Vegas, the group is leasing property between Paradise Road and Swenson Street near UNLV campus.

The fact that the land is leased, that Las Vegas police are advised about the group’s protest plans and that police are welcome -- even as undercover officers within the group -- has led many to believe the group is little more than an urban campout.

“This was about how serious we are about what we’re doing,” said Jennifer Reed, a UNLV graduate student who drove many of the cited protesters back to the encampment this morning.

She said narratives about the group were “that we’re not really serious, that we’re cooperating with authorities. We want to show that we’re very serious and we’ll escalate if we have to in order to get our message out.”

She quickly adds: “Peacefully.”

So at about 7 a.m., they started gathering in front of the Lloyd D. George U.S. Federal Courthouse, 333 Las Vegas Boulevard South. About 60 people showed up. When they were ready to disperse at 10 a.m., 21 of them stepped into the northbound lanes of the street and sat down. Police got them up, loaded them into a paddy wagon and cited them away from the site.

It was all according to plan, Reed said.

“We had discussed if people wanted to be involved as an act of civil disobedience and some did,” she said.

“They did keep up their end of the bargain,” Metro spokesman Jay Rivera said. “It was very quiet, very peaceful.”

Organizer Kristal Glass stressed that police were not clued in on the peaceful sit-down protest. “We were getting hammered as pansies recently, but this had been planned for days,” Glass added.

Protesters were cited for being a “pedestrian in a roadway,” police said. They were transported to a temporary processing site at Cashman Center.

Glass said no additional protests were planned until at least January. Until then, the group will be going on a “recruitment drive.” “We’re just going to make people aware of what we’re doing,” she said.

Sun reporter Jackie Valley contributed to this report.

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