Sympathetic Judge Frees the WikiLeaks Truck

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The WikiLeaks truck that graced the Occupy Wall Street encampment at Zuccotti Park for most of its duration got lost last week when New York Police impounded it, and now that it's been found in a police impound lot, it's not in great shape. "It has two parking tickets on it, and the battery's dead, " an aggravated-sounding Clark Stoeckly, the truck's 29-year-old owner, said over the phone on Wednesday afternoon. Police eventually gave Stoeckly a jump that got him on the road, but not before they threatened to arrest him for videotaping them in the impound lot (more on that later). The whole thing sounds contentious, except for Stoeckly's guardian angel: A sympathetic judge.

The truck, a modified U-Haul that sports giant decals reading "WikiLeaks Mobile Collection Unit" and "Top Secret" was parked adjacent to Zuccotti Park since Occupy Wall Street started. Stoeckly says he has no connection to WikiLeaks, but he supports its mission. The truck's been missing since Stoeckly got arrested while driving it last Thursday during the big Occupy Wall Street protest. Stoeckly said police stopped him on Broadway near Zuccotti Park because his license plate was "askew" and asked to search his vehicle. When he wouldn't consent to the search, he said, they arrested him for obstructing government administration and held him until Friday night. "Basically, I got out Friday evening, I wasn’t able to pick up my keys until Monday morning," and by that point the truck was nowhere to be found," Stoeckly said. His arresting officer, he said, had given him a piece of scratch paper with the name and number of Mike's Towing, in Brooklyn, telling him that's where the truck was. "Come to find out that Mike’s Towing has never received the truck at any point. So yeah. It went missing."

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After calling various city offices on Monday and Tuesday and not finding anyone who could tell him where the truck was, Stoeckly decided to see a judge about the growing stack of parking tickets he owed. Perhaps, he thought, the judge would be able to tell him where to go after he made things right with the city. The judge did him one better. Stoeckly tweeted: "An OWS sympathizer judge just dropped all of my parking tickets. They say the truck is at pier 76 impound. On my way. Great Day!" How did he know the judge was a sympathizer? "He told me I was doing good work."

But Stoeckly found his parking ticket luck ran out once he got to the impound lot. Apparently the truck hadn't spent the entire time there while it was separated from him. Two new tickets perched on the windshield (see left), both with the address 16 Varick St. "I got a ticket for parking in a bus lane and parking next to a fire hydrant. Those were on Friday morning between 8 and 9 a.m." On Tuesday night, somebody tweeted a photo of the truck getting towed from Varick Street on Friday, presumably to the impound lot.

Reunited with his truck, Stoeckly tried to start the engine to pull out of the lot. Nothing. He got a jump start, and made it across the lot again, but the truck died again. When cops tried to give Stoeckly another jump, things got contentious. "I started videotaping it, and the officer threatened to have me arrested," saying Stoeckly couldn't record them on city property. He did anyway, and tweeted the footage.

In the end, they got the truck started, and Stoeckly headed out from the impound lot. He tweeted: "On my way to OWS storage to drop off blankets. I believe I tweeted this a week ago."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.