A protester belonging to an Occupy Wall Street group in rural Pennsylvania is being charged with felony attempted bank robbery and a terrorism-related charge for holding signs up during a demonstration at a local Wells Fargo branch.
David C. Gorczynski, 22, was charged on Tuesday with attempted bank robbery and terroristic threatening, both felonies, as well as one misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. Police detained him after he walked into an Easton, PA Wells Fargo branch with a sign that read “You’re being robbed” and another that said “Give a man a gun, he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob a country.”
Gorczynski was at the Wells Fargo bank as part of a demonstration led by Occupy Easton, the small Pennsylvania town’s OWS offshoot.
Easton is located around 60 miles outside of Philadelphia and has a population of only 26,800 according to the 2010 census.
The Express-Times reports that police were alerted to the branch after a bank teller hit an alarm that alerted the authorities.
"I think our guys did what they had to do in this instance," Easton police Chief Carl Scalzo tells the paper. "At the end of the day, if we get a report of a panic alarm at a bank, we're going to respond accordingly."
Chief Scalzo adds that Gorczynski’s First Amendment right to protest freely can’t trump any allegations that he may have been behind something more sinister.
"We can't allow the perceived idea of protesting to be a defense to criminality," Scalzo says in response to reports that the suspect was simply demonstrating Wall Street corruption. "People have to understand if they want to protest, there's a line."
Mary Catherine Roper of the American Civil Liberties Union tells the paper that the charges seem “overzealous . . . especially given the clear political nature of the statements.”
Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli tells The Express-Times, “I'm very on top of this" and claims he is investigating whether or not the charges were justified.
“He is not the criminal. If the police were truly there to protect and serve the taxpayers, the banksters would be arrested and this man would be called a hero,” the Occupy Easton group responds on Facebook.
Gorczynski was released on $10,000 bond after a defense and bail fund established online helped bring in enough money to buy his freedom after his arrest.