Mayor Giuliani's police state broke out in full force, escalating violence, with people injured by police brutality and with 136 people arrested and held in jail for 30 hours.
Matthew Shepard Political Funeral March was held in New York City on Monday, October 19th at 6pm. Between 3000 and 5000 people carrying candles and placards gathered for the march starting at 59th Street & 5th Avenue. When the march began by moving onto 5th Ave, all the safety-ensuring system of marshals, police negotiators that activists had learned to build over the years, main organizers, and everyone on the street were promptly arrested. "The police refused to negotiate with us," said Sara Pursley, one of the organizers of the demonstation, which did not have a permit. "The police refused even to talk to us. And by doing so, they created far more havoc in the city than ever would have happened."
With the initial arrests, the march continued by moving along the sidewalk, down Fifth Avenue for several blocks chanting "Stop the Hate! Stop the Violence!" When the police line momentarily broke, marchers quickly moved out into the street taking all of 5th Ave. After marching down 5th Avenue a few blocks, the substitute "organizers" (the side and back marshalls who were not arrested) saw a phalanx of cops a block or two down and promptly turned the march onto 55th Steet marching westward toward 6th Ave. When they got down the street to 6th Ave, the street was totally blocked by the police.
The crowd broke through to move onto the intersection at 6th Ave., moving southward (against traffic) one block and moved eastward back toward 5th Ave. As the crowd was filing onto 54th Street, the police summarily decided to force people out of the intersection and onto the sidewalk, and literally began to arbitrarily arrest people, ironically, while they were simply attempting to move onto the sidewalk; several people were injured in the process.
The march continued down 5th Ave. and at 43rd St. -- one block from 42nd Street and police roadblocks -- turned West. Again, some marchers were arrested for not following police orders to stay on the sidewalk. Cops were pushing and shoving the marchers. The front of the march was stopped near 6th and 43rd and not allowed to proceed this time. As protesters were trapped , the cops split the group down the middle with a row of police in riot gear. About 250 people on one side and 75 on the other. Lots of violent pushing of both police and protestors occured here as the crowd was not allowed to continue or retreat. Police escalated panic and violence as police charged demonstrators with riot gear and night-sticks. Then they brought in a row of mounted officers on horses and charged the crowd, trying to push them onto the sidewalk (which was impossible due to the large number of packed people).
After about 15 minutes of shoving and pushing by police and horses, the March was allowed to return to Fifth Ave to continue down to Madison Square Park, where the rally was originally scheduled. Once they reached Madison Square Park, marchers were greeted by hundreds of cops in riot gear and scores of police wagons. A rally and candlelight vigil was held in the park until about 9 PM. As the crowd dispersed, the main subway station at the park was closed off by cops in riot gear, and other police in riot gear assembled a phalanx several cops deep not allowing people to cross 23rd St. or to proceed down Broadway. In addition to the hundeds of cops surrounding the Park and closing off the subway stop, there were another 300 to 500 hundred cops assembled on Broadway just south of 23rd Street. It was an armed camp in a police state.
The police had only about 70 officers assigned to the demonstration as it began. A Level 1 mobilization, doubling the police presence with officers from the Manhattan North and South task forces, was quickly called. A Level 2 mobilization, drawing in task forces from the other boroughs, was announced at 6:20, followed 20 minutes later by a Level 3, drawing squads of officers from all Manhattan precincts. A highly unusual Level 4 mobilization, pulling in hundreds of officers from all over the city, was announced at 7 PM.
Finally, while the cops were out in great numbers and did everything they could to stop and break up the demonstration, they were *not* successful...they did not ruin the evening. In fact, what was seen were people becoming angrier and more militant as the evening unfolded. More people saw first hand just how this mayor and his police force are running the city.
Initial police assault incidents
October 20, 1998
Legal Observers Document Incidents of Assault and Harrassment Committed by New York City Police Officers Against Peaceful Protesters
At last night's [Mon. Oct. 19th] demonstration [Political Funeral March for Matthew Shepard], a team of 18 legal observers documented incidents of harassment and physical assault by New York City police officers. All of the legal observers were clearly marked as such, and identified themselvesto police as non-protesting observers. Despite that fact, three observers were arrested while carrying out their duties, and two other legal observers were physically assaulted.
The legal observers have documented a total of 136 arrests. The arrests began at 6:20 p.m. Those arrested were taken to at least four different processing centers. As of 3 p.m., legal counsel had still not been permitted to meet with any detainees [which continued into this morning.]
Preliminary notes [of incidents witnessed] follow:
* Officer Anitra 6448 physically assaulted peaceful protesters while screaming "Get back faggot!" Another observer saw Anitra repeatedly pushing peaceful protestors to the ground.
* On 43rd St., at least four demonstrators were peacefully sitting down when seven or eight officers on horseback attempted to trample them. On horseback were observed officers 17865 (or 17985), 860, Perno (28731 or 28734), Conzyz (28330), 19403. At lease 3 protestors were injured when they were trampled by horses (a woman with a broken ankle, a woman with abdominal injuries and contusions, and a man with an injured foot.) One of the officers on horseback threatened to kill a protester if he "touched [his] horse". Camptian Riedel refused to halt the actions of the officers on horseback. Officer 4270 continued to push people on the sidewalk to the ground after the horses had dispersed the protesters. Officer Dougherty verbally mocked the crowd. Wielding his nightstick, Captain Shindel physically repeatedly assaulted several people, including two legal observers and a reporter from [WNYW] Fox 5. Present were Officers Malone, Brocatto (8793), Leun, Roganella, Francis, and 18792.
* A white male in jeans, black loafters, wearing a white t-shirt torn under the left breast was pinned on the ground by cops. He was clutching his left breast and asking for help. No blood was visible. The police did not seek medical assistance. The officers' badge numbers were [illegally] covered by jackets.
* An approximate 5'10" male of south Asian descent wearing glasses and driving a white mini-van (NJ Lic. plate no. MJ 303C) got out of his vehicle and struck a marshal at 59th St. and 5th Ave.
* A NYC Transit bus driver (bus #018, Q32 route) drove his bus into a crowd of people, yelling expletives and homophobic slurs.
* Officer 21575 on a motorcycle rammed into a non-violent protester [on 5th Ave.] between 50th and 51st Sts.
* A man was arrested by Officer Brestle Crimmins 26727. The plastic cuffs were on so tight that the victgim's hand turned purple. When the officer finally consented to cutting off the cuffs, he injured the victim with his cutting pliers.
* A non-violent protester was injured while being arrested. While being transported to jail, he asked for medical assistance. Officer Doyle 953 would not stop the bus. The protester screamed from the bus window for help (bus #9123.) Captain John Littleton finally stopped the bus at 47th St. and 5th Ave. and called for an ambulance.
* A non-violent protester was thrown to the ground and arrested. the plastic cuffs were applied too tightly and his hands went numb. Whe the victim complained, Officer Doyle 953 said no one had the "device" and that it would be "an hour or two" before the cuffs were removed. Eventually an officer brought scissors and removed the cuffs. Deep red marks were left on the protester's wrists.
* Officer 13955 continued to cover his badge despite being told by a legal observer that doing so was illegal.
* At the first road block [not sure where this was], a peaceful demonstrator was beaten, crying out, thrown to the ground and against a truck by Officer Ferguson 17874.
* Officer 11386 in riot gear drove his motorcycle into a group of people.
* A non-violent protestor was thrown to the ground by the police.
* A white woman with brown hair and glasses in a black skirt and sweater was assaulted by five police officers. One of the officers threw down his helmet and chased her with his nightstick.
* Two people were arrested simply for talking to the press after the crowd had dispersed at Madison Square Park.
* A protestor was arrested while walking down the sidewalk carrying a candle. He was not given a reason. After being taken downtown to One Police Plaza, he was released several hours later without being charged.
* Officer Mulroney was forcefully pushing protestors at 53rd [St.] and 5th [Ave.] He grabbed one protester and then pushed him away laughing.
* A protestor was arrested for yelling when someone got hit.
* A female protestor was pushed to the ground by Officer Hawkins on 59th St.
* Captain Caposa, Schindle, Hoehl were all observed treating protestoer with unwarranted violence. Officer Cabb 8342 was noted as exhibitng "severe brutality". Capt. Moldori physically assaulted a TV reporter. Officer Doudou 4476 physically assaulted a legal observer.
* Officer 513 at 6th Ave. and 55th St. drove in a motorcade which recklessly forced its way into the crowd.
* Officer Slifkin physically assaulted a peaceful demonstrator on 6th Ave.
* Officer Millne physically assaulted a peaceful demonstrator.
* AT 6:35 p.m. Officer Drestler(?) dragged a woman away by [her] hair, forcing [her] head down between his knees.
* Officer Walsh physcially assaulted a non-violent protester on 5th Ave. and 34th St.
* Officer Brent 26727 attacked a peaceful demonstrator, threw him to the ground.
Contact Richard McKewen (718) 726-8778
It's now 10:10 PM on Tuesday, 30 hours after the march began, and all but one of those arrested are finally out of jail. There were a lot of outrageous violations of procedure even by NYPD standards--people arrested at the whim of one Officer Littlejohn, many of whom were relaesed without even a desk appearance ticket after being detained in a city bus for seven hours, or held inside, without water or food, even longer. A lot of people, many of them new to marching let alone being arrested, were incredibly courageous through this ordeal. They deserve our thanks.
The Orange County Register Pubdate: 22 Oct 1998
Author: Donna De La Cruz-The Associated Press
HIV PATIENTS: DRUGS DENIED DURING CUSTODY
Dispute: According to New York police policy, all prescription medicine must be surrendered during detention.
New York-Gay activists jailed for their part in a huge demonstration complained Wednesday that they were denied access to their AIDS medication, which can sometimes lose effectiveness if patients miss even a single dose.
"I am very angry that a peaceful candlelight vigil could end with my life being threatened," said John Irizarry, 27, who spent 19 hours in custody after the march Monday down Fifth Avenue in New York. At least five of the roughly 100 people arrested were denied access to HIV or AIDS medication, according to the New York City Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project.
According to New York Police Department policy, when someone is taken into custody and has prescription medicine on them, that medicine is surrendered temporarily, said Sgt. Nick Vreeland, a police spokesman. Over-the-counter medication is taken away. Police do not dispense any kind of medication. If someone needs to take a prescription, they are given the option of being taken to a hospital, where they are evaluated, he said.
The arrests occurred during a rally in response to the slaying of Matthew Shepard, the gay University of Wyoming student who was beaten and lashed to a fence.
Irizarry, who takes 22 pills twice a day, said he hadn't missed a dose in six years until this week. After being unable to take two scheduled doses, "I was just really scared for my life," he said. Patients like Irizarry should never miss a dose of medication because that can allow the virus to weaken their immune systems, said Dr. Paul Curtis Bellman, an HIV specialist.
"He has survived this long by being so diligent in taking all of his medications. The missed doses cannot be replace," Bellman said. Robert Gangi, executive director of the Correctional Association of New York, a prison watchdog group, said it is not the first time police have refused requests for medication.
"Their reasoning is that they are not qualified medical people, and they don't know if what you have is some kind if illegal drug," he said. Joh Jordan, who is infected with the AIDS virus, also was arrested and opted to be taken to Bellevue Hospital. But he said he was unable to get his AIDS medication even there. Hospital officials did not immediately return a call for comment.
"I don't want them (police) to have the power to play Russian roulette with my life or anyone else who is being held captive by them," said Jordan, 29, who was in police custody for 20 hours.
www.november.org http://protest.net www.mapinc.org www.michaelmoore.com
from aidsact post...
I feel invisible again.
Last Monday (10/19/98), I marched with 5,000 queer friends of mine in New York City in what was to be a peaceful memorial in the memory of Matthew Sheppard, the young college student who was brutally murdered because he was gay.
What it turned into was an assault by the NYPD--and indeed, it has become to many of us an historical event with as much magnitude and importance as the Stonewall riots. This wasn't a riot--except to the extent the police were out of control. No cars were turned over and burned, no shop windows smashed.
But well over 100 people were arrested and assaulted by the police. Even to the point of horses trampling people. One friend of mine was kicked in the head by a police horse (not to mention the cruelty to the horses themselves who were terrified). Officers were heard (and identified) screaming "faggot" and other epithets at marchers. A woman with her two young children was told to leave the march or her children would be taken from her.
The vile irony of the cops -- under Giuliani's direction as evidenced from previous major demonstrations -- exhibited all the hatred and ugliness we were there to protest against. Yet they hypocritically hide behind the fact there was no permit for the march. I've been to dozens of demos in the last 9 years for which there was no permit -- and I have only once seen the cops behave so despicably.
It is even more disingenuous to hear Giuliani claim that if a permit had been applied for, the organizers would have received it. This hindsight lie is contradicted by his virulent attempts to revoke a permit for a march planned for today (10/22/98) to protest police brutality!!
It is unconscionable to me that the violence wrought against gays, lesbians and transgendered people in this country -- violence that occurs on a routine basis -- is so frighteningly downplayed by the media. Giuliani and the police must be held accountable for their viciousness and homophobia. Indeed, I support those who call for his impeachment.
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