UPDATE: Five Mualimm-ak and Jazz Hayden were both released on their own recognizance late Wednesday afternoon. Click here for video of their statements following release. Also see coverage and video of the arrests on Democracy Now! and Gothamist. Please follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more details as they emerge.
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Five Mualimm-ak, an activist, survivor of solitary, and contributor to our book Hell Is a Very Small Place: Voices from Solitary Confinement, was arrested Tuesday night moments after leaving a book launch event where he was a speaker, held at the Open Society Foundations in Midtown Manhattan.
Mualimm-ak had read from his essay in Hell Is a Very Small Place to a packed house at OSF, and spoken about his five years in solitary confinement in New York State prisons. Released from prison in 2012, he has gone on to become an activist against solitary and mass incarceration and founder of the Incarcerated Nation Corporation, which aids and organizes formerly incarcerated individuals.
Eyewitnesses say that Mualimm-ak and veteran activist Joseph “Jazz” Hayden, who had attended the event, were leaving the OSF building on West 57th Street when they saw police officers confronting a homeless man. Hayden began filming the encounter and was arrested. Mualimm-ak protested Hayden’s arrest, and was arrested as well.
The two men were taken to the nearby Midtown North Precinct and placed in the cells. Five individuals who had attended the launch event walked to the precinct to inquire after their welfare. Shortly after arriving, they were arrested as well, handcuffed, detained, and finally released after being charged with “refusal to disperse.”
In the early hours of the morning, Mualimm-ak and Hayden were sent from the precinct to Central Booking in Lower Manhattan. They have been charged with Obstruction of Government Administration and are expected to be arraigned today at approximately 2 pm, in New York County Criminal Court at 100 Centre Street. They have legal representation from the National Lawyers Guild.
More details will be provided as they emerge, here and on Solitary Watch’s social media feeds.