Occupy Denver profile: Aaron "Al" Nesby sacrifices his anonymity for the occupation

aaron nesby.jpg
Aaron "Al" Nesby.
On Friday afternoon, the day before Occupy Denver's most violent evening to date, Aaron "Al" Nesby worried he might be arrested. The chances were good, he admits, so he warned a friend to look out for him and check the media for his name on an arrest list. As fate would have it, that friend, John Sexton, was also arrested. Two days later, the irony is marked on Nesby's wrist: His yellow jail bracelet is still attached.

Saturday was a chaotic one for both men, but Nesby's day changed the moment he saw his friend on the ground. Sexton, who was later arrested for felony assault, lay sprawled under a police officer with his face to the grass. "My friend was screaming for his life, and I wasn't prepared for that," Nesby says. "I was pepper-sprayed while I yelled at police, 'Why are you doing this?' My eyes were burning, but it didn't hurt as much as seeing my friend on the ground."

al nesby pepper spray.jpg
Courtesy of Tanner Spendley
Al Nesby reacts to pepper spray during Saturday's Occupy Denver demonstration.
Hours later, Nesby would make his own trip in a cop car, after he resigned himself to protect the kitchen tent once Sexton was taken away. The 32-year-old, who has been a member of the occupation since its third day, sat linked to other protesters in front of the Thunderdome when police came to remove the group's newly established tents.

"They remembered the laws of physics better than me," Nesby says. "I failed to realize that when you're two feet tall, essentially forming a two-foot-tall bridge, it's easy to be stepped over. The last thing I saw to grab was a riot SWAT member's leg."

So he did. It was in this moment, and throughout the arrest that followed, that Nesby's path in the occupation changed. Two weeks ago, Nesby refused to provide Westword his full name to maintain his anonymity. Today, his name and photo are splashed across the Internet, and he has grown resigned to the implications of a long-term future with Occupy Denver.

al nesby crying.jpg
Courtesy of Tanner Spendley
Protester Pat Marsden comforts Nesby during Saturday's demonstration.
Nesby's family history is one of consistent and impressive political activism. His grandfather was a Tuskegee airman, and his father later became the first black Top Gun instructor. Nesby himself attended the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen, Texas for three months before he began to "feel like I was being programmed," he says. "I've always been much better at the reverse-programming thing myself."

In a different Denver world, that of electronic music, Nesby is better knows as A23P, his creative name, or as the president of Acid All Stars Recordings, a collective dedicated to electronica with an underlying acid sound. "Music is nothing but math," Nesby says. "First, I figure out the formula, and then I figure out a way to break it. And I mean break it, not break it down."

To support his musical life, Nesby has developed the computer programming skills he picked up at age eight in a long series of IT jobs: webmaster for a furniture company, lead IT expert for West Palm Beach's Obama campaign, a reverse hacker for IBM. Today he combines both his job training and his political motivation into a dedicated interest in Anonymous, the Internet collective, though he hesitates to say how deep his loyalty runs.

"I'm not Anonymous because you know my name is Al," he says, though technically that's his middle name. But "regardless of what my involvement may or may not be, I'm no longer anonymous, so anything I tell you about my role from here on out might be lying to you."

At this, he laughs. "All that really matters is that I'm American," he says. "It's time to be American, isn't it? Isn't that what we're all doing at the occupation?"

More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Occupy Denver: Did unnamed 2nd assaulter knock over cop on motorcycle? (VIDEO)."

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19 comments
Pamela
Pamela

Al is king of lulz hahaha.

Ede Gee
Ede Gee

i love you brother al! sorry you had to go through this !! you iz rill as hale!!!

Donovan
Donovan

For those who would bash the occuppy movement, you don't know what the movement is about.  OWS is making public awareness that 99% of the population is at peril from the wealthiest 1% dictating public policies. The wealthiest 1% have hijacked our government through corporate money and influence. The 1% has enough influence to have laws enacted which favor them but screw the other 99% of society.  What is so difficult for people to understand about this?

not 1% not 99%
not 1% not 99%

Grabbed a cop and got pepper sprayed.  Touching a cop is ASSAULT. That doesn't matter if your arguing your rights or not. I dont really care for the police but they are just doing their jobs.  My hats off to them in this case.   

Boris_Badenoff
Boris_Badenoff

"My friend was screaming for his life, and I wasn't prepared for that," Nesby says.

Oh please,  talk about over dramatization, Now if possible this was a country in Africa or N. Korea, China then "Screaming for his life" might have some context,  What, do these idiots really believe that maybe the Denver Police were going to execute them on the spot or something?  Maybe take them back to the station and torture them in a secret dungeon? 

"Screaming for his life"  give me a freakin' break....

  They have been breaking various city ordinances and laws for weeks,  The Mayor and Governor ought to be run out of town for allowing this to continue...  You want to stage a protest fine, do it lawful like everyone else is required to do.  Forcing law abiding Denver taxpayers to foot the bill for your trashing is totally out of line...

Here is an interesting article to read concerning this OWS issue. Don't click this link if you are afraid of a different point of view....

http://www.daveramsey.com/news...

instntkrma
instntkrma

Thank you Mr. Nesby. 

Cheers, Sir. 

NotWoofka
NotWoofka

This is the best profile of one of the demonstrators I've seen so far.  I might disagree with Mr. Nesby's tactics, but I absolutely respect the thought and sacrifices he's making for his beliefs.  

Walker Williams
Walker Williams

The city will likely be sued, and will likely settle, because police are not allowed to instigate conflicts and then use unreasonable force on and arrest people who aren't a threat. I realize from your use of the word "assault" that you probably have some vague notions that somewhat resemble legal knowledge, but you're in no position to make a judgment. For one thing, you don't have access to the facts. For another, you don't understand the various legal implications of those facts. I suggest you find more productive ways to spend your time, although it's entirely up to you.

Al N.
Al N.

Hopefully I can help clear some of this up.For starters, the reporting on why the police moved in is off.Secondly, I (Al Nesby) think I MAY have been a bit misquoted on somethings; though I'll confess I don't find much of a big deal to the quote mishaps as what I did say was VERY VERY close to what I'm listed as saying.  In fact, it's only really small things that tip me off to the possibility of some misquotes...."screaming for his/her life" just doesn't seem like a phrase I'd be likely to use for example.  Probably more likely that I said "screaming in pain", which is a difference so minor I don't think it warrants any sort of correction.There's some other small possible blips of the sort, but again, ultimately things so minor I don't feel they warrant any sort of complaint on my part. A tarp had gone up in one area that was tied to trees.  Police moved in to remove the tarp.JT and some others moved to impede their progress by stepping in front of the tarp, AT LEAST JT (though others may have as well) raised his arms up to emphasize he was not a threat.Meanwhile, on the other side of the park, a tent went up.

There was a plan to erect several tents that day (I won't say the number, but will confess it was over 50), however police had somehow become aware of the plan, specifically cited the name of one person involved in the formation of the plan, and had stated that said person might be held fully accountable if the plan went forward.Given the leak, the plan was called off.

While I don't know how much/how deeply the police knew the details of the plan, but I can confess to knowing that the plan included the utilization of the march in certain ways.  To this end, there NEVER was any plan for the march to turn into any kind of attempt to occupy the capital (as Lt. Murray of the DPD FALSELY claimed).

In any regard, getting back to JT, whom I was around at the time, I suddenly no longer see JT but notice a scuffle going on in the center of what quickly became a circle.  In the whole center were a number of RIOT/SWAT officers, but they were of such a number it was hard to see through their bodies and make out what they were struggling with.  Eventually there was a clearance and I could make out my friend JT at the bottom of the pile being completely manhandled by police.  When I say "manhandled", I very much mean that.  Perhaps this shot (captured by my mate Tanner Spendley) helps explain what I mean:http://www.tannerspendley.com/...If you examine the picture, you can make out that by the time the picture was taken, JT's hands had been zip tied behind his back, he was on the ground and subdued, and yet was still being choked by an officer.While there's no video I've seen of a completely clean shot of the incident from beginning to end, there is SO much video that was taken of the incident that if one gives the time to it, they literally can reconstruct (from multiple angles) how it all went down (in JT's regards).  One need only have enough patience and dig through youtube.

To this end, while I was busy recording JT (the video I shot I still haven't off loaded from camera and uploaded anywhere) A number of us are made aware of the fact that someone had independently decided to erect a tent.  A number of occupation regulars decided that while the original plan had been cancelled, that a stand might as well be taken.  Simply put, temperatures and else were dropping so much at night that continued occupation required a stand be taken on creating shelter in to help keep people from needing hospitalization or risking possible death.  While going over all these details makes for a long story, I'll note here that safety issue had been further pressed by city and police actions on the occupation.  Including an incident where sprinklers in the park were turned on in 38 degree weather (at roughly 1 in the morning), police monitored as the occupation scrambled to resort people and keep them dry and warm, and finally police departed blasting "La Cucaracha" over their loud speakers after the sprinklers finally were turned off. (I was personally at the occupation when this occurred, and while much of major media avoided the story, we did notify numerous media outlets and reporting of the incident does exist.)  In any regard, with the decision to take a stand made, a member of the occupation headed back off to inform leads of the march to leave the capital and conduct actions to buy the people erecting tents more time.(again, where Murray pulls the idea that there was any sort of intention to Occupy The Capital is beyond me.  Not only was there never such any idea, but the return of the march to the occupation was coordinated and would have been difficult to coordinate had there been some plan to occupy the capital).

By this time JT had been arrested, and one may simply reference the interview he did with the Westword for further details from his own mouth. 

That all said, I'll continue this response later, but currently am out of time.However, I will be sure to provide why I feel the Ramsey article is off and could only evolve from a LACK of understanding of certain realities.I'm a large believer of hard documentation, nor mere allegations or reports, so rest assured I'll provide ample docs regarding examples of the realities I feel Ramsey can not possibly be aware of or purposely ignores.  Realities that essentially expose his argument as a false argument given that his argument itself is based on false realities.

I'll also try to provide some details regarding previous meetings with the Mayor and chief of police, problems the media often fails to note regarding how the occupations own cleaning efforts and else have often been made more complicated than need be by the city and how the city has even at times full on banned/prevented the occupation from cleaning, among else.

For now, have to get back to some things.  Contrary to often touted statements, the occupations are just a bunch of jobless hippies, and I for one, have a pretty hectic schedule I have to maintain. (to that end, I'll look to answering things when I can, but I really don't have the time to take up answering occupation questions as a full time thing.However, if one ever catches me at the Occ, while I'm often busy while there, I do always try to take time to speak to people.  I also don't tend to be that hard to find.  Just ask the info desk or Thunderdome (free kitchen) my whereabouts, and typically they'll be able to tell you if I'm around, direct you to where I am if I am, and even at times tell you when I might be back if I'm not around at the time.)

Best Regards,-A.

Walker Williams
Walker Williams

I've actually seen a picture of the kid screaming. You, on the other hand, are making up things that fit your preconceived views.

What bill is being footed besides the cost of police enforcement, and the eventual settlements that will arise out of these unlawful detentions?

not 1% not 99%
not 1% not 99%

Just read that Daveramsey page you sent.  GREAT read!  thanks for the link I will forward it

John Thomas
John Thomas

It's pretty cool of you to say that.

seanv2026
seanv2026

@Al N. You ruined everything. The left the would have an army right now you dumbshit ANON fuck. The dems whoever you belong too would have that just not the washed up version you all tried to create.. You are a shitty leader and chose some really ignorant people to be in your secret societies of leftist. I had every intention of building what you were trying to build except without the Hacker hollywood wannabe nonsense. I mean yes AL you have FUCKING CPU talent then keep you and your fucking friends behind the CPU not trying to run or I am mean ruin things. The truth is I support the dems just not the pussy liberals who show up saying hug the right wing enemies who have no intention of ever hugging you back. 


I knew you worked for the dems the second Patrick batemen made a comment toward you stating we should elect you because we need to elect black people not because you are smart which I mean AL you are smart but he said because you were black nice. Is this the time when you made your deal with Tanner? What a good choice Tanner the self centered fuck great puppet though real shit he took credit for what .....other did HA! The true music maker the best that no one ever knows. If you think about your egos and your ignorance to choose someone effective in the front saved some people who did all the work we know this or at least this is what we here...HA! Anyways what stupidity Ambrose the pill popper snitch, fillmore , who else AL? Oh lets us not forget sole the fake rapper. I know more but I am tire of calling them out.


AL you fucked everything ANON fucked everything up. You cannot hug the right wing republicans you fuck they are the true enemies liberals are the unwanted step children in this country that are told to take an ass wooping and smile why they do it. 


AND AL IF YOU ARE RIGHT WING AND I AM WRONG FUCK YOU! 


YOU GUYS RUINED EVERYTHING. AND IF YOU ARE A SECRET DEM LIKE I THINK YOU ARE YOU FUCKING RUINED EVERYTHING LOOK AROUND YOU IDIOT DEMS ARE NOT WINNING THERE IS NOT LEFT WING MEDIA IT IS ALL RIGHT OBAMA IS STUCK IN A RIGHT WING WORLD GETTING FUCKED BY RIGHT WING MEDIA AN DYOU WORKED AGAINST OTHER LEFT WING AND DEMS INSTEAD OF JUST SHUTTING THE FUCK UP AND LETTING THINGS BE GOOD JOB AL!

Boris_Badenoff
Boris_Badenoff

OMG!  You Actually saw the Picture,  oh the horror...!   I hope it doesn't leave you emotionally scarred for life.. 

Hey you want to see pictures of REAL people that are really having bad days, look here if your not to scared to see real brutality, not your made up crap. Yeah you have it sooo freaking hard don't you.

http://www.environmentalgraffi...

And from your statement I can see you don't know squat about the law either..

Cost? Only figures I find were City of Denver statement that as of Oct. 23 (thats like a week and a half ago in case you don't know what day it is) stood at $365,000 as of That time..  That was just City not any State cost ..which will be considerable as well.

 Why don't you whip out your mamma's Visa and reimburse the city and the Taxpayers for that junior...By now it ought to be around an even 1 million I would think...

OK , so tell us do you feel that a million dollars forcefully taken from Denver Taxpayers is no big deal because YOU think it is for a just cause? 

So you complain about the system yet you use that very same system to forcefully take money from every Taxpaying Denver citizen to pay for your crap?

Go back to your mamma's basement and pray she doesn't cut off your Internet...

 

 

NotWoofka
NotWoofka

Thanks.  I'm really pretty progressive in my politics.  I just hate this particular movement, because I think it does more harm to the progressive cause than good.  Public perception has you as a bunch of semi-homeless people looking for a place to hang out during the day, and it seems that lately the message that is going out to the public has been more about defending illegal camping than actually being anti-greed.  

People like Mr. Nesby have the best chance of connecting with the average voter.  That's who should be the face of the movement, not the anarchists in their facemasks.

nunya
nunya

I've known Al for a long time. He's a very smart guy but I don't know how much he'll connect with the average voter at least if his views are known.

NotWoofka
NotWoofka

Just a correction to my above post...hating the movement is way too strong of a word to use.  Strongly dislike is a much more accurate phrase.

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