Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

December 31, 2011

Deputies arrest 2 Occupy protesters

Dollar covering mouth sparks incident at courthouse

Kokomo — A dollar bill taped over a mouth led to the arrest of two protesters Friday at the Howard County Courthouse.

Protesters Darren M. Burke, 38, and Greg Lambert, 52, both of Indianapolis, face misdemeanor preliminary charges after the incident.

Members of Occupy Kokomo and related movements around the state had been rallying outside the courthouse that morning with permission from the Howard County commissioners.

They walked into the building, where Sheriff Steve Rogers met them at the security check-in.

Lambert told the sheriff he and his companions planned to return Monday with signs, at which point both parties turned and walked away.

Protester David Fox called Rogers back to speak with him. A moment later, the sheriff noticed Burke, who had been using a computer tablet to film the entire rally that morning.

Behind the electronic device, the Occupier was wearing a dollar bill over his mouth, a biohazard sticker on his cheek and his sweatshirt’s hood was over his head.

Rogers decided Burke was violating a court order that prohibited masks in the courthouse.

“Take your mask off,” Rogers told Burke.

“I don’t have a mask on,” Burke responded.

“I don’t care. Take your mask off,” Rogers said.

The sheriff then grabbed at Burke’s face as the protester turned around and shouted “Get off me. I’m going outside.”

Rogers and deputies pushed Burke into a wall, at which point Lambert became involved in the fray. Occupiers said Lambert was trying to protect Burke’s tablet.

After tackling Burke to the ground, Rogers placed him in handcuffs and he was taken to the Howard County jail. An Occupier told the Tribune Lambert had been bailed out of jail, and they are collecting money for Burke’s bail.

The sheriff department has preliminarily charged Burke with contempt of court, trespass and resisting law enforcement, according to jail records. Lambert was preliminarily charged with resisting law enforcement.

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