After riotous anarchist march, police raid book fair after-party


BY ALBERT AMATEAU and LINCOLN ANDERSON  |  Black-clad anarchists, some of them wearing masks, marched across the Village Saturday evening, shouting anti-police epithets, overturning trash cans, spray-painting graffiti and banging windows.

The march, which began after an Anarchist Book Fair at Judson Church on Washington Square, ended at an after-party in the E. Sixth Street Community Center. Three men were arrested at the community center, two for assault and inciting to riot and one for criminal mischief and disorderly conduct.

Police said that a group of about 25 demonstrators attacked officers with bottles and pipes during a scuffle near Starbucks on Lafayette St. and Astor Place. Two officers were injured at the location.

Witnesses said demonstrators tried to enter the Starbucks but were locked out. Patrons of the coffeehouse ducked under tables as demonstrators banged on the windows with 9-foot-long galvanized metal pipes, police said. No Starbucks windows were broken.

But when the demonstration, numbering about 150 people, reached St. Mark’s Place a couple of blocks east, they left a storefront window cracked.

Epithets including “Cops are murderers,” “All pigs must die,” “F— N.Y.P.D.,” were heard, as well as the names of Sean Bell, shot to death by police in Queens six years ago, and Trayvon Martin, shot dead two months ago in Florida by a neighborhood watch volunteer.

As the demonstration, which began shortly after 8 p.m., moved across the East Village, police ordered everyone out of Tompkins Square Park and closed it, and also closed E. Sixth St. between Avenues B and C, where the community center is located.

Alexander Penley, 41, an Upper West Side resident and lawyer, was arrested at the Sixth St. center and charged with inciting to riot, second-degree assault, menacing, fourth-degree weapons possession and resisting arrest. He was freed on his own recognizance pending an April 20 court appearance.

Arrested on the same charges was Nicholas Thommen, 30, of Salem, Oregon. Bail was set at $1,000 cash or $5,000 bond, also pending an April 20 court date.

Eric Marchese, 24, of Brentwood, N.Y., was charged with criminal mischief and disorderly conduct and freed on his own recognizance pending a May 24 court appearance.

Seth Tobocman, an East Village radical comic book artist, had been selling his books at the Anarchist Book Fair. He witnessed the police arrests outside the community center, where the book fair’s after-party was being held. Tobocman said he didn’t — and couldn’t — participate in the march through the Village because he had three big crates of books that he and some friends lugged from the church to the community center.

“It was not the book vendors who were marching around,” he said. “The only incident at Judson Church was that the police kept trying to get in and question people.”

Police maintained a presence all weekend outside this year’s book fair, which was never done in previous years, he said.

“I would probably attribute that to Occupy,” the cartoonist said.

At the Sixth Street Community Center, he said, undercover officers were among those who went after Penley and a second man whose name Tobocman didn’t know, apparently Thommen.

“It was like a big wrestling match,” the cartoonist said. “There was a pile of bodies on the front step of the building.”

Tobocman said everyone had just been sitting on the steps in front of the place, and that the police didn’t identify themselves and just “bum-rushed” them.

“It was pretty freaky,” he said. “It certainly seemed unprovoked to me.”

When the two men got up, they looked in bad shape, he said.

“They unquestionably had been beaten,” Tobocman said. “They looked totally f—– up. They’d been on the ground with a bunch of guys on top of them for about 10 to 15 minutes. They got beat up. You would not want to be them.”

(Tobocman illustrated what he witnessed during the arrests at the Sixth Street Community Center in a two-page cartoon in this week’s issue. See Pages 6-7.)

Tobocman said Penley — who is not related to well-known East Village activist John Penley — has been very active in Occupy Wall Street. He speculated that’s why police targeted him. Plus, he was told Penley was on the march, and he assumes that was true “because Penley is the type of guy who goes on things like that.”

“My personal opinion, [they jumped him] because he’s a visible leader and has been since the first day of Occupy Wall Street,” Tobocman said.

He also said he heard from a man who was with Penley that police were angry with Penley for pointing out the undercover officers — but Tobocman said that could just be hearsay.

Penley reportedly grew up in the neighborhood. Tobocman said he knows this from an interaction Penley had at an event in Tompkins Square in February called “Occupy Town Square.”

“A woman said, ‘We don’t want you in the neighborhood,’ ” Tobocman recalled. “He responded that he grew up in the Lower East Side and went to Stuyvesant High School.”

According to Tobocman, radical lawyer Stanley Cohen spoke with Penley at the Ninth Precinct. Tobocman said, according to Cohen, Penley is licensed to practice law in California.