Shannon Noble on 8 Aug 2000 15:38:10 -0000

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<nettime> Update on Philly arrests..urgent action needed

From: Dont Rhine <>
Date: Mon, 07 Aug 2000 10:30:12 -0700


Please pass this along to others... 


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 bleeding.

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 persistent.... 

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. 

D2k mailing list  -

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