SCA members attending a camping event in the Shire of Tuzocci were attacked with pepper spray and other riot-suppression weapons when mistaken for Occupy Wall Street protestors.
A small shire near New York City was the scene of a confrontation between local police -- augmented by the Department of Homeland Security -- and SCA members last weekend, as the police apparently thought the SCA members were protesting something. Seven Dukes, three Laurels, two Knights, and five Pelicans, as well as numerous others, were arrested after the incident. All but one have since been released on bail.
The event's theme may have contributed to the apparent misunderstanding, as it was called "Road to Runnymede -- Taking Back What's Ours, Dammit!" According to a source within the police department, the local Mayor had no idea of the historical context and thought that Runnymede was a microbrew beer. The source was quoted as saying, "Chief DuWright went absolutely ballistic and said no damned hippie rabble-rousers were gonna swill that tree-hugger sissy beer in this town!" The police chief apparently alerted Homeland Security of a "terrorist invasion", and events spiraled out of control from there.
When police arrived at the SCA event, they encountered about fifty people in garb, most carrying weapons of some sort, and tents all around. They seized the Gatekeeper, demanded to know who was in charge, and arrested the Seneschal when she was pointed out by the frightened Gatekeeper. Seeing an armoured tournament in progress, the police formed a riot line and charged onto the list field, and used a taser on a Marshal who tried to stop them. They doused both fighters with pepper spray, then turned to the crowd and decided if a little was good, a general spraying of everyone was just the right crowd-control measure.
At one point, a police officer on the scene tried to reason with the SCA people, but that also went badly when the interviewee -- a research Laurel -- tried to explain the event in persona rather than in modern voice. According to eyewitnesses, the Laurel told police that "we are here to demand our rights from the landed despot who dares to decree that God Himself hath appointed his elevated station." The police, apparently, took the word "station" to mean their station, and assumed the crowd meant to storm City Hall and attack the Mayor.
Eventually, the matter was sorted out, as the officers from Homeland Security had rather more training and self-restraint than the local cops. Unfortunately, a number of injuries were reported, mostly to the SCA folk but also to a few of the police, one of whom was hospitalized to remove an impaled tweedle-needle he acquired when storming one of the A&S classes. In most cases, according to arrest records, the SCA members and police mutually agreed not to press charges, and the SCA folks were released. A few members remained in custody, with charges of trespassing and resisting arrest, until bail was posted early Monday morning. All the injured were treated and released, with no serious injuries reported.
The Mayor declined our request for an interview, but as he walked away from our reporter, he was heard to mutter, "Well, crap, what was I supposed to think, with all those damned tents, the strange clothes, and the weapons?" A member of the Mayor's staff, speaking anonymously, revealed that the local Baron and Baroness were mistaken by the Mayor for "caricatures of wealthy Wall Street hedge fund managers."
Lawyers representing the SCA members accused the Mayor of being partial to conservative protestors. One lawyer said, "Six months ago, the Fleabaggers were here in the same public space. They carried guns and ammunition openly, but the Mayor left them alone because they were from his own party." The Mayor's office responded that guns were "not considered dangerous" under city law, but that "we [public officials] have no way of knowing what those men in kilts may be hiding in those fur pouches of theirs." Fleabaggers, a loosely-organized conservative movement, have staged protest marches in recent months demanding that the government stop taxing them and eliminate all laws and regulations concerning personal cleanliness. Harry Nilap, a spokesman for the local Fleabagger Party organization, denied accusations of having urged the Mayor to act against the SCA.
According to local Seneschal, Lady Gryddachdyll nic Ygmyddracha (called Mehv), the biggest question remaining is who will pay for the damaged and destroyed tents. "The police just tore through them with machetes," she said, "and had absolutely no clue how expensive a 20x24 foot Regency pavilion or a Bell Wedge tent really is."