Shannon Noble on 8 Aug 2000 06:40:58 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] FW: Update on Philly arrests..urgent action needed

From: Dont Rhine <>
Date: Mon, 07 Aug 2000 10:30:12 -0700
To: (Recipient list suppressed)
Subject: Update on Philly arrests..urgent action needed


Please pass this along to others...

by Leslie Cagan

It’s Saturday morning (August 5th) and I just got off the phone with
someone working with the legal support team in Philadelphia. The
situation remains extremely serious and needs national attention!

Here is a quick review of what’s been happening:
As the Republican Party met in Philadelphia this past week, protest
demonstrations were held every day. On Tuesday, August 1st, almost 400
people were arrested as non-violent direct action tied up downtown
Philly during the afternoon rush hour. About a dozen people had been
arrested before then, and more have been picked up since, but the
majority of arrests happened on Tuesday. Not everyone arrested was
actually involved in any direct action: 75 people were taken into
custody at the space where puppets were being put together for use in
the protests; others have been picked up just walking the streets.
(There continue to be conflicting reports on the number of people
arrested, an indication of the problems people have faced since being
taken into custody.)

As of this morning, more than 250 of those arrested are still in jail.
They are engaging in jail solidarity, demanding that everyone be treated
equally and that all have access to food, water and bathrooms, as well
as access to their lawyers. Stories about what has unfolded have come to
light as people have been released, and several people still have
possession of their cell phones and so more information is being passed
along that way.

The legal support team have reported extremely disturbing instances of
mis-conduct by police and prison guards. Actually, mis-conduct is much
too weak a word and some are calling it torture, including:
• sleep deprivation by overnight  handcuffing in awkward positions
• the use of pepper  spray to coerce arrestees into attending
• stripping of prisoners' clothing
• beatings
• denial of  essential medication, including for people with diabeties
and asthma
• denial of food, water and access  to the bathroom for extended

There are numerous accounts of arrestees who have been isolated,
verbally abused, punched, kicked, thrown against walls, bloodied, and
dragged naked across floors, in one instance through a "trash trough"
containing refuse, spittle and urine. There has been a reported sexual
assault by a female officer who pulled and twisted a prisoner's penis,
as well as reports of peopole dragged by their genitals and nipples
being twisted by guards. Seven witnesses saw one woman dragged naked and

Many of the arrestees have been held since Tuesday without arraignment,
some without phone calls or contact with their lawyers. There are
reports of missing paperwork, and arraignments with incomplete or
slipshod records and lawyers have been allowed only very limited visits.
And to make matters even worse, excessively high bail has been set for
many of those arraigned, with most bail ranging from $15,000 to $30,000,
and several set at anywhere between $100,000 and $500,000. Two people
have had their bail set at $1,000,000: Kate Sorenson an activist with
the Philadelphia Direct Action Group and Philly ACT-UP (she faces 7
felony charges) and John Sellers from  the Ruckus Society which trains
people in creative non-violent direct action tactics. He was standing on
a sidewalk when arrested. The 75 people arrested at the puppet site have
all been given $15,000 bail for obstructing traffic charges, and they
were not even in the street when arrested.

To make matters worse, the Philadelphia police are being hailed as
models of restraint by the mainstream media in Philadelphia and in signs
all around town.  As people have called the police, district attorney’s
office and other officials they are being told that everything is fine
and there are no problems...blatant lies. The news of what’s happening
inside the jails is hardly getting out. People around the country are
encouraged to call Philadelphia officials - see details below - and an
effort is underway to get Amnesty International into the jails.

In the face of all this, reports from inside indicate that those
arrested are tired and harassed, but for the most part in good spirits
and continue to practice jail solidarity. As they demand their release,
people inside are singing, chanting, telling stories and about 150
people are on a hunger strike, some for almost three days now.

It is important to keep up the calls to officials in Philadelphia.
People are reporting having a hard time getting through and then, when
finally getting someone, being told everything is okay. Please be
Mayor John Street 215-686-2181
DA Lynn Abrams 215-686-5777
Deputy Police Commissioner Mitchell 215-686- 3364
Captain Fisher (Head of the Police Department office of Civil Affairs)
Chief Maxwell (Head of Criminal Investigations for the police)
Police Commissioner John Timoney 215-686-3149 or 215-686-3388
City Council President Ann Verna 215-686-3442 or 215-686-3412 and 3413.
Mayor's Chief of Staff Stuber 215-686-7508
Roundhouse Jail 215-686-1776 or 215-685-8574

And here are several important questions to ask these people....
1.  Why are non-violent demonstrators being held in this manner?
2.  Why such high bail amounts?  Why are they not just being released?
3.  Have all the protesters been arraigned?  If not, why not?
4.  Legal observers are telling us that people are being denied bathroom
privileges, medicine, and food.  Why are you torturing people like this?

Finally, take a moment to contact your local media outlets and ask them
to cover this story. For more information they can contact the Legal
Support Team in Philadelphia at 215-925-6791.

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