Shannon Noble on 13 Aug 2000 06:15:26 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] FW: artery fwd: artist's update, Philly



Date: Thu, 10 Aug 2000 19:45:44 GMT
From: "Ken Berman" <>
via:  puptcrit list

This was forwarded by Morgan Fitzpatrick who is one of several that make
Shoddy Puppet Company.  This group also includes Jodi Netzer, who is
in several articles, being a leader in the Puppetganda.  Please read this
for an account of what's been going on first hand.

Dear Friends & Fellow Artists ~

You may have already heard about what's been going on here in Philly.
Some of the information may have been mangled by the mainstream press.
Here is what I know about what has been happening to people who use
art (puppetry in particular) as a forum for demonstrating the
injustices in this world.  It is ironic & indeed unfortunate
that these same artists should fall victim to the very injustices
that they had set out to protest, yet were prevented from protesting.

Please forward this message to everyone you know.

First, a chronology of harrassment that led up to where we are now:

APRIL 5th 2000:  Philadelphia.  Undercover agents photograph & videotape
puppetshow in a public park.  They film both the performers & the
APRIL 15th 2000:  Washington D.C.  Police raid a convergence space where
puppets are being constructed for a protest the following day.  Soe of
puppets ae returned in time for the protes while some are returned after
protest is over.  Many are damaged or never returned at all.
JUNE 2000:  Canada.  A puppeteer planning on teaching others the art of
protest puppetry is imprisoned & deported on a vandalism charge from 15
years ago.  His crime:  painting a stencil using tempera - a paint that
washes off with water.
JULY 4th 2000.  Philadelphia.  Six people are arrested on the University
Pennsylvania campus for watching fireworks from a rooftop.  They are held
questioned for 24 hours.  Questions are asked about Spiral Q Puppet
- - a group that helps communities build neighborhood pageants & parades.
arrestees have no connection with Spiral Q.
JULY 20th:  A fire alarm goes off at Spiral Q's headquarters while people
are preparing props for upcoming protests.  The building is evacuated.
There is no fire.
JULY 21st:  Undercover agents are spotted taking photos of people going
in & 
out of the building that Spiral Q is located in.  Later that day police,
with the help of L&I (Licenses & Inspections), shut down Spiral Q
the building to be "unsafe".  Within a few hours the building is brought
to code & reopened.  Mayor John Street says that he doesn't want people
think that the City of Philadelphia is opposed to free speech.

Spiral Q Puppets  -

JULY 31st:  One of four undercover officers who had been masquerading as
union stagehands as a means to infiltrate a puppetry workshop, is seen
spraypainting an "anarchy symbol" on U.S. Navy property during a protest
march.  He uses puppets to cover his act of vandalism.
AUGUST 1st:  One hour before a scheduled protest, police surround a
warehouse where over a hundred people had spent two weeks building
Police land on the roof & spit on the puppeteers below.  They try to saw
their way into the building & fire pepperspray through the mail slot.
two hours, police say that they have a warrant.  The 75 besieged
open the bay door of the warehouse & allow themselves to be loaded onto
buses where they are held for six hours in tight handcuffs without water,
medical attention or access to legal help.  They are never read their
rights.  The press reports that the puppetry warehouse is a "nerve center
for criminal activity".
AUGUST 2nd:  Over 300 puppets slated for a demonstration against the
Criminal Injustice System are destroyed by police.  Three people are
for trying to prevent this.  Puppeteers personal belonging, tools &
are also confiscated & destroyed.  Later that day police surround,
disrupt & 
search a small puppetshow in a public park.  They find nothing but cloth

THE CHARGES:  The puppeteers have ten charges against them.  Bail for
puppeteers is set at $10,000.  Bails for other protesters are even higher
up to $1,000,000 for misdemeanors, many of whom were picked up for being
the street with a cell phone.

IN JAIL:  Here are just a few things that police & prison guards have
to physically & psychologically torture those arrested last week in

- - Several women were hogtied & dragged through broken glass.
- - Guards have attempted to break peoples fingers & toes.
- - Prisoners have been beaten unconcious & then denied medical care.
- - A man was seen dragged naked & bleeding by guards.
- - A man's genitals were pulled & twisted by a guard.
- - A man was cuffed crucifixion-style to the bars of his cell door as
     smashed his hands with metal handcuffs.
- - Extreme temperature settings have been used to torture prisoners.
- - People have been denied medication for epilepsy, diabetes & HIV.
- - People have been denied food, water & access to toilets.
- - People have been denied access to lawyers & telephones.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:  We need a lot of support, polically, financially &
morally.  We need money for our bail fund, legal help & medical supplies.
For released prisoners we need food, clothing, phonecards, cameras &
You can send donations to Philadelphia Direct Action Group, PO Box 40683,
Philadelphia, PA 19107-0683.  Make checks payable to ISMCH.

WHO TO CALL:  Apply political pressure by calling the following:
- - Mayor John Street (215)6986-2181 or fax (215)686-2180
- - District Attorney Lynne Abraham (215)686-8701
- - City Solicitor Ken Trujillo (215)575-7260
- - Philadelphia Police Complaint Line (215)686-3991
- - Deputy Commisioner Mitchell, head of demonstrations (215)686-3364
- - Captain Fisher, head of civil affairs (215)685-3684
- - The Roundhouse (where prisoners were detained) (215)686-1776
- - Senator Rick Santorum (202)224-6324 or (215)864-6900
- - Senator Arlen Specter (202)224-4254 or (215)597-7200

- - Tell them that you oppose the outrageous penalties that these
are facing.
- - Tell them that ou are horrified to hear of the abuses of people based
their political beliefs.
- - Tell them how outraged you are at the disregard for the First
the right to free speech.
- - Demand that the charges be dropped, protesters released, given
attention & due process of law.
- - Tell everyone you know to do the same.

WE CAN NOT ALLOW things like this to happen.  We set out to decry
the Republican National Convention & we were prevented from doing so.
The very agenda that we are so critical of is the same agenda that
has silenced us.  We knew that the system was unjust.
This week we go to feel this injustice first hand.
The injustice is bound to continue in their courts
as they deplete us of our energy & resources.
We need your help.


Thank you for your time.

~ Morgan ~

For more information & updates check out or

FWD: from: puptcrit list


Date: Fri, 11 Aug 2000 11:08:22 -0400
From: Steve Abrams <>

 When I heard the radio report that 70 people were about to be arrested
Phila, a few blocks from my home, I thought that as a puppeteer, a
and a neighbor that I should witness the event. The action of the police
it extremely difficult to get close enough to observe clearly. The people
the puppet making warehouse seemed to offer no resistance as they were
cuffed  one by one Large parade style puppets were clearly on view
through an
open garage door. Reporters from the national press said that the search
warrant sited contraband items were in the warehouse including pvc pipe.
my own car parked a few blocks away, was my very own puppet stage made of
It was frightening to see the full force of the citys authority devoted to
this action
The week before the Republican convention, the studio of Spiral Q Puppet
Theatre, also in Phila, was raided by a team of city inspectors that
claimed the studio had code violations. I am happy to say that this
at eviction and harassment was thrown out by the  city solicitor
Appearances seem to indicate that the real purpose of the raid at 41st and
Haverford was to supress the right of free speech. The ACLU described the
action as an overbroad sweep of many individuals who had no intention of
engaging in violent protest.
It doesnt matter if the 70 people in that building were puppeteers,
guitarists, jugglers, or cheerleaders with pom poms. People in this
have the right to assemble and have the right to prepare to express their
views publicly in theatres or in the streets if necessary. Free
expression is
not a crime.
A large number of the activists arrested remain in prison.  Bail has been
at very high levels. There are persistent rumors that in prison activists
have been mistreated. Since the Republican National Convention ended, the
national press has packed up and left Phila, leaving non-violent
in prison.
I hope that not just puppeteers, but all those who care about justice,
treatment of prisoners, and our rights of free speech, will express their
Steve Abrams


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