BRUTAL TREATMENT CONTINUES AGAINST JAILED PROTESTERS

 

From the mother of an ACT UP member held on $500,000 bail > > >

Dear All:

I am soliciting your assistance in a letter campaign to help my son receive justice and appropriate bail in the City of Philadelphia.

My 19 year old son, Terrence McGuckin was arrested in Philadelphia on Wednesday August 2, 2000 during the Republican Convention. He is charged with obstruction of justice, failure to disperse, possession of an instrument of crime and reckless endangerment. His alleged "Instrument of Crime" was a Cell Phone. He was not actively participating in civil disobedience but merely observing the protests happening within the City of Philadelphia. Terrence's bail has been set @ $500,000. The District Attorney portrayed Terrence as a risk to the community. All of his alleged violations are misdemeanors not felonies yet his bail has been set higher that suspected murderers and rapists. Terrence is a non-violent person, who respects the rights of all people.

Terrence is a community leader in West Philadelphia. He is deeply commited to non-violence, eradicating Aids and enabling our constitutional rights for all people including the poor and prisoners. He is has been actively volunteering the majority of his time over the past five years in activities ranging from:

a ) distributing fruits and vegetables to feed the poor and homeless through Food Not Bombs
b ) volunteering with the Pentridge Children's garden to provide a safe haven for disadvantaged youths amid a crack infested neighborhood
c ) promoting aids education and outreach through the Youth Health Empowerment Project to "at risk" youths in the Philadelphia Community

At the age of 15, Terrence upon hearing about the plight of the Homeless in Atlanta during the Olympics, hopped a greyhound bus after organizing a food drive and went and established a food kitchen to assist these people.

Terrence is deeply committed to non-violent conflict resolution and demonstrates pride in our community. He has done so on a daily basis even putting his personal safety at risk. Terrence directly confronts drug dealers within his West Philadelphia community so that they do not approach the children. Terrence has deep ties to the community and is working to make Philadelphia a better place to live one day at a time.

I am always pleased, when I have lunch with Terrence every week, at the people waiving and saying hello when they see him. They range from local business owners to business people and the occasional homeless person. It does not matter if we are in Chinatown, West Philadelphia or Center City.

My goal as a parent is to instill in each of my children, the drive toward independance, free thinking as well as value social responsibility. My son Terrence, has not disapponted me nor the City of Philadelphia. He is an impassioned voice speaking out on social injustice.

The District Attorney's office continues to engage in disproportionately punitive measures to those seeking to exercise their First Amendment rights. Unprecedented bail is being set for misdemeanor charges. Urge District Attorney Lynn Abraham to immediately release Terrence and to handle prosecutions fairly for all persons arrested under the RNC Umbrella.

Please show your support for Terrence by contacting the local leaders of Philadephia, the District Attorney and myself to express your concern at the inappropriate level of bail being required in this instance.

Carolyn McGuckin-Robinson, crobin@icdc.com

I request that emails be sent to the following people:

Webmaster@phila.gov
Mayor John Street 215-686-2181

Lynn Abraham, District Attorney
Webmaster@phila.gov

On the next report, NOTE Mayor Street's rhetoric regarding this "well thought out conspiracy." Activists here have learned not only of Police Commissioner Timoney's plan to instigate a federal probe into anti-WTO, anti-IMF, anti-corporate and AIDS activists ("someone's got to look into these groups," he told the Inquirer), but also of an equally outrageous plan: Congressional Hearings investigating protesters--the people who have been mobilizing in the streets, against powerful corporations, the governments they buy, and the deadly effect they have on people with AIDS and poor people.

Our basic means of moving forward, and making strides for people with AIDS--direct action--is being taken from our hands. This is the new McCarthyism. Let's be very clear about that. And we must fight it--any victory domestic or internationally that we have won in the AIDS movement has been won using grassroots activism. That is our history and our present. ___Asia Russell

Philadelphia officials defend arrests
Friday, 4 August 2000 18:15 (ET)

Philadelphia officials defend arrests
by HAROLD H. MARTIN

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 4 (UPI) - Philadelphia officials Friday defended their actions in locking up nearly 400 demonstrators who they said had set out to disrupt the Republican National Convention in a well-planned conspiracy.

Mayor John Street at a news conference said every one of the 390 people arrested would be prosecuted.

Street said: "We think it would be terrible public policy for us to have people come, joining in what appears to us to be a very well thought out, well-planned conspiracy to shut down the city of Philadelphia and disrupt the convention that was here, and at the end of the day we say all is forgiven, go back where you came from. That will not be the case."

Street said: "We do not take lightly the nature of the activity that took place in this city particularly on Tuesday that resulted in the arrest of these individuals. In other cities, in other times, after these mass protests...people were allowed to just walk away."

"Each person that has been arrested and is charged will be fully prosecuted by the district attorney," Street said.

Neither Street nor Police Commissioner John Timoney addressed directly why bails as high as $1 million were placed on at least two individuals, including the head of the Ruckus Society, John Sellers, who was charged with mostly minor offenses. Timoney said everyone arrested was believed to have committed criminal acts.

Nor did they answer charges that had been made by supporters of the protesters, and by many of those who had been released, that they were denied rights to lawyers, deprived of water and medicine and bathroom facilities, or had been physically mistreated, including being dragged naked through the jail corridors, or having their wrists handcuffed to their ankles for long periods of time.

Street said those arrested had been given access to lawyers and were questioned immediately after arrest about any medical problems. He said they largely had brought the problems on themselves.

"They refuse to give their identity. They failed to cooperate. They did virtually everything they could to stymie, to slow and to defeat the process," Street said.

He said there would be a strong defense of the city and all police against any legal suits.

"We believe there was a very serious conspiracy and we will thoroughly and completely investigate it in cooperation with other authorities that are here," Street said.

Responding to accusations that police had raided a puppet-making shop as a pre-emptive strike against demonstrators, Timoney and his police displayed items they had found, including giant slingshots, so-called sleeping dragons used to link protesters to make it difficult for police to separate them, kerosene-soaked rags linked by chains that could be lit and thrown into crowds and wire to stretch across streets to trip horse police or bike police.

Timoney said he viewed the event as a "sophisticated conspiracy" that is targeting cities around the nation where large conventions or meetings are being held. He repeated a call for an FBI and Justice Department investigation.

A number of protesters showed up outside the mayor's office, trying to get into the news conference. They stood face to face with Civil Affairs officers, trying to engage them in dialogue. One asked an officer if he was from a working-class background. They officer just shrugged.

About 30 other supporters of the jailed demonstrators showed up again at a park outside of police headquarters with their signs.

Capt. William Fisher said they would be allowed to stay until the park closes, as long as they behave.

Among those in the crowd outside the mayor's officer was an anarchist who said she is a member of the Black Bloc and was calling herself Bork. She had shed her black boots and bandana for a dress and said she had been to the mayor's office with the mothers of two juveniles held in detention to file a complaint against police for beating her so her eye was swollen and her legs badly bruised.

Bork said she believed her mission of getting out a message about corporate greed, homelessness, police brutality and the death penalty had been accomplished.

"It's gaining attention," she said, "But if I stop what I'm doing it will go down and we'll just go back to being invisible."

One member of the Rainforest Action Network, Patrick Reinborough, got into the news conference to hand out a news release in which a member of ACT-UP, the AIDS activist group, said he'd seen a man handcuffed to his cell door in a crucifix position, and women screaming in pain.

But he also told one police officer they were thankful that Philadelphia did not use teargas during the demonstrations.

"It's been one of the most horrifying things, the use of chemical agents on non-violent protesters," said the veteran of several protests.

Timoney said of the 390 arrested, 35 faced felony charges, 325 faced misdemeanor charges and 30 summary charges. There were 258 men and 132 women, he said. There had been 130 identified and of those only 17 were from Philadelphia, he said. Police said about 70 people had been released.

United Press International.

Protesters' vigil winds down
Friday, 4 August 2000 2:10 (ET)

Protesters' vigil winds down
by HAROLD H. MARTIN

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 3 (UPI) -- About the time Gov. George W. Bush was wrapping up his acceptance speech Thursday nearly 200 supporters of jailed demonstrators were winding up their solidarity campaign for the night.

Bush drew the applause from the convention floor. The supporters were getting attention from dozens of police, as they marched in a drenching rain, chanting slogans against police brutality, from a park across from police headquarters to the world headquarters of the American Friends Service Committee, also known as the Quakers. There they were offered a spaghetti dinner and a place to sleep for the night. On their 10-block march they had been led by plainclothes Civil Affairs officers carrying umbrellas and escorted by two dozen bicycle police in blue polo shirts and black shorts, with plastic ponchos protecting them from the rain.

All day a fluctuating crowd of between 100 to 200 sat, sang and danced in Franklin Park. Protesters vowed to maintain their vigil until their jailed colleagues were released. Police provided the protesters with water and portable toilets and did not intervene for the first night of their vigil but warned them to abandon the park by 1a.m. Friday or face arrest.

Periodically Thursday they marched around police headquarters, carrying puppets and raising their voices, some said, so their friends inside could know that they were outside in support.

At intervals one or more who had been released from jail would come to the park to recount their stories. They said about 150 of those still detained had started a hunger strike. They said their jailed colleagues remained in good spirits, even though they claim police have denied them access to attorneys, kept them handcuffed for 7 hours in sweltering buses, denied them water and medicines and curtailed bathroom privileges.

Philadelphia police officials said many of the jailed protesters refused to cooperate, struggled during fingerprinting and forced jailers to carry them to court hearings.

"There's been widespread removal of clothing by both sexes," said Deputy Police Commissioner Robert Mitchell, who commands the Philadelphia Police Department's special operations division. Naked prisoners were dressed, sometimes forcibly, in white paper suits for their arraignment.

Larry Krasner, a civil-rights lawyer working with the protesters, said he has received reports of some of those arrested remaining in handcuffs for long periods. He said he was told police have put pepper spray on gloves and rubbed them on protesters' faces to force them to go to the arraignments. That could not be confirmed.

"I think there are a number of solid civil-rights violations here," Krasner said.

Krasner said there were only three attorneys from the protestors legal team allowed to see defendants. He said that some bails had been set at $1 million for what would normally be summary or misdemeanor offenses, including that for John Sellers, executive director of the Ruckus Society. Krasner said Sellers was charged with possessing an instrument of crime -- allegedly a cell phone -- with obstructing traffic, recklessly endangering others, failing to disperse, disorderly conduct and conspiracy.

Krasner said he also knew of another woman, whose name he did not give, with a $1 million bail. Other bails were set at $500,000, he said. One man, who refused to give his name, said the detainees are practicing jail solidarity by declining to give names, demanding to be treated as a bloc and insisting that charges be reduced or dropped.

"We are very strong in prison," said Thomas, who was charged with obstructing traffic despite being arrested inside the warehouse.

"I think they want to keep people locked up until George Bush leaves town," Krasner said. "It's obvious someone doesn't want to see marchers and signs on the cover of Newsweek magazine."

Wearing her yellow plastic "Jane Doe 4052" identification band, a visibly shaken Kristin Bricker, 17, of Wilmington, Del., who was arrested Tuesday afternoon and released Wednesday night, said the detainees were told they did not have the right to talk to a lawyer, or make a phone call. She was charged with blocking the highway, pleaded not guilty, and all charges were dropped in return for giving her name.

The Rev. Al Sharpton marched from an anti-death penalty protest Thursday to the park and told the gathering, "This is an outright disgrace, and it shows what we will be facing if George W. Bush is to become president of the United States. People have the right to stand up to (Bush's) racist-killing policies," Sharpton said, referring to the number of executions that have taken place in Texas since Bush has been governor of the state.

They were joined by gray-haired ladies and gentlemen, as well as families with young children from the Quakers. They stood in circle holding slim red candles and heard from advocates of various causes, from opponents of the death penalty, to those who felt the police raid on the warehouse where parade protest puppets were being made was a denial of their speech rights. In little knots around the circle protestors recently released told of the conditions they and their companions had encountered. Many had been release on their own recognizance after police obtained their names.

A longtime civil rights attorney Jerry Balter told the crowd: "I want to send a message to (Police) Commissioner (John) Timoney -- there're 4,000 criminals in our town. They are down there in South Philadelphia and he should lock them up.

"They are criminals in that they say they are going to do something and then do the opposite. That's perjury...I heard Dick Cheney last night and everything he said he was for he voted against when he was in Congress. How can you trust anything they say?"

Earlier Thursday, Timoney said a total of 369 protesters had been arrested. Timoney defended the arrests, including those of individuals picked up on the streets away from any protests. Those, he said, had been identified as having assaulted police officers.

Deputy Commissioner Thomas Nestel said the Philadelphia police were passing on to the FBI information about a laundry lists of targets for destruction found in the possession of some protesters. Timoney said he was considering asking the FBI and the Justice Department to investigate groups who he said came to Philadelphia specifically to do damage.

New York civil rights attorney Ron McGuire said he'd welcome a Justice Department investigation, but of the police department. McGuire said treatment of those arrest was "a civil right catastrophe of the first order." Attorneys for the jailed protesters said they expect class action lawsuits to be filed soon. Capt. William Fisher, who heads the Civil Affairs Units, said he'd already been threatened with lawsuits by parents of some of the people who had been arrested.

 

more reports continue 4 > 5 > latest update

 


PLEASE CALL:

Mayor Street's office at 215-686-2181
District Attorney Lynn Abraham: 215-686-8000
Mayor's Chief of Staff 215-686-7508
Councilman Nutter 215-685-3416--ask for help
Councilman Blackwell 215-685-3418--ask for help
The Roundhouse Jail 215-686-1776, 215-685-8574

Some things you could ask: Why are the demonstrators being held? Why on such high bail? Even people who give names and contact info are receiving high bails that they cannot possibly meet.... Point out that this is an outrage. Further questions: Why haven't they been arraigned? Please note: 30% of demonstrators have given their names and are still in jail. They haven't received due process--we haven't heard from them, so they haven't been given their right to a phone call Legal observers are telling us that people are being denyed bathroom privileges, medicine, and food--what can you say about this?

If you can contribute to the bail fund, please send needed money.

DONATIONS & LOANS:

Because of the torture and the denial of access to medications, it is extremely important that bail be raised. The organizers and the arrestees are committed to seeing the charges through, and we are soliciting loans/donations with the full intention of returning the money. We do need some straight-out donations since in Philly the court takes 30% of the bail money as a "service charge" (outrageous but true.) Donations ARE tax-deductible.

The nature of bail: to be released, we must post 10% of the bail amount...70% will be returned 31 days after the case is completely over. The nature of loans to the bail fund: If requested, total amount will be returned to lender. (Of course donations are preferred to loans.)

Make your tax-deductible check out to "ISMCH" (our Fiscal Sponsor),
The Institute of Social Medicine and Community Health, and mail it to:

P-DAG
POB 40683
Phila, PA 19107-0683
___ Thanks!

If your money is specifically for Act Up members please specify that on the check and by sending an e-mail to:
ACT UP Philadelphia treasurer Rebecca Ewing, rbecca@critpath.org

Questions? call Jen Flynn at (718) 940-3964 , or e-mail her at flynn@dti.net

 

 

 

 

back to ACT UP @ Republican National Convention, Philadelphia July/August2000

 



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