Police say peace protester grabbed for officer’s gun


A leader of the No Police State Coalition is facing felony charges for allegedly attempting to grab a police officer’s firearm during a protest near the United Nations.

According to Edison Albion, a spokesperson for the Manhattan district attorney, Geffrey Blank, 29, was arrested on Sept. 28 during a demonstration at 43rd St. and Second Ave., when he was observed with a “large bulge in his pocket.” When police asked Blank about the bulge he reportedly became belligerent. “Whatever was in his pocket was not a gun,” Albion said. “He did try to take the officer’s gun. He resisted and while he was being handcuffed, he attempted to take the officer’s gun.” If convicted, Blank faces two to seven years in jail. Blank, from Brooklyn, is a lifeguard, according to fellow coalition members.

Blank could not be reached for comment by press time. A phone message on the No Police State Coalition hotline on Monday urged people to show up in court that day to support Blank, whom the message called the victim of a “triple-felony frame-up on trumped-up charges of allegedly trying to grab a cop’s gun while being illegally arrested at the A.N.S.W.E.R. demonstration.” According to a source, the police also charged that Blank’s drumsticks were illegal, in that they were longer than the permitted length for sticks at demonstrations. Another court date for Blank, who has been released, is set for Dec. 10.

Formed after the start of the war with Iraq, the No Police State Coalition organizes regular marches from Union Sq. to Tompkins Sq. to protest the requirement for a police permit to march in the street and holds twice-weekly speak outs at Union Sq. against the war on Iraq and the Bush administration’s policies. Blank may also be a member of the Revolutionary Communist Youth organization, according to a source. Another leader of the group is a longtime local communist.

Blank was also arrested June 24 during a large demonstration of 75 to 100 people after they refused to disperse, Albin said.

Former Mayor Koch recently told The Villager how he had been outraged on seeing the coalition’s signature red “The Bush Regime Engineered 9/11” banner while driving past ground zero on 9/11’s two-year anniversary on his way to be interviewed on a TV news show. Blank was among the three protesters holding the banner. “I felt like getting out and horse-whipping them,” Koch, who is supporting Bush for reelection, said.

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