Columbus Police arrested 7 activists as they read aloud a long list of complaints against US Bank. They face fourth degree misdemeanor trespassing charges, according to attorneys with Occupy Columbus. Activists had planned to do a “parade tour” of several banks in downtown Columbus, but only got to two of them when police made the arrests, said Justin Poulin.

“We went inside Fifth Third Bank. We protested for about 5 minutes, talked about the bank. Then we were followed from Fifth Third Bank by police to US Bank. We were followed into the lobby. We did exactly the same thing we did in Fifth Third. We were just talking about the bank. Then the police surrounded us and started putting people in hand cuffs,” said Poulin.

Justin Poulin Occupy Columbus

Using the ‘people’s mic.’ demonstrators were addressing anyone in the bank who would listen, said Poulin.

“The people’s mic. is when somebody says something and people repeat it back. It’s a way to elevate a person’s voice so that everyone can hear it.”

Poulin said police gave no order to disperse before making arrests.

“It went from being peaceful to the police surrounding us and putting people in handcuffs. (Using the people’s mics) we were talking loud. But we were being peaceful. I didn’t know that talking loudly was a crime.”

Poulin said banks are the major reason for the economic crisis.

“People are suffering because of decisions banks made. They are not seeing any of the consequences of it. So I think bringing it to their doorstep, and just letting them know what they do to people on a daily basis is a good thing.”

Occupy Columbus activists had planned on doing an action at a branch of Chase Bank today, but didn’t make it due to the arrests, said Poulin.

“JP Morgan Chase received $ 97.4 billion in federal bailouts. In the same year that they received bailouts–for the first half of 2009–their profits were $4.86 billion. In 2008, they paid their CEO, Jaime Dimon, $19.7 million, which is 893 times the average teller wage…Their (JP Morgan Chase ) effective tax rate in 2008 was negative 33.4 percent. We paid Chase money in 2008. They didn’t pay any taxes… They have 53 off shore tax havens that they use to hide money,” Poulin said.

Some of the people I’ve spoken with as a reporter have criticized the Occupy movement by saying we should make our voices heard to our elected officials in ways other than protesting. But it may not be as simple as that.

“The politicians are bought out by these large corporations. Lehman Brothers and a lot of other large financial firms are some of the biggest contributors to federal elections…The politicians then do the corporations’ work, not the people’s work,” Poulin said.

Collin Cousins Occupy Columbus

Collin Cousins was also a witness to the arrests.

“One of the cops said one person was warned. But I didn’t hear any warning at all and I heard everything that went down from where I was at, at the door (of the bank).” Video shot by Robb Ebright show one police officer saying something to one of the demonstrators, Laura Tompkins, but what the officer said is not audible amid the din of shouts from demonstrators, and appeared to be spoken only to her.

Cousins said he got involved with Occupy Columbus to take a stand against police brutality.

“I’m sick of it. As citizens in this country, people have a right to say things and a right to assemble and be out protesting. The first video I saw of the (NYPD) officer–Tony Bologna–macing the innocent bystanders in the street, that boiled my blood. As a citizen in this country, I had to stand up for those people.”

Cousins agreed it’s possible to focus too much on the wrong-doing of police and lose sight of systemic causes of injustice.

“At the end of the night, they go home and take that uniform off, and they’re just like you and me standing here on the street.”

Cousin said police in some cases may choose to not follow orders that conflict with their conscience.

“ It's just like the officers in Albany, New York who were told to take over the occupation site there and they refused. What it comes down to is, do they want to lose their jobs over defending human rights ?”