Subject: Urgent Action Newsletter - August 5, 2000
Freespeech.org Newsletter, August 5, 2000
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A young man handcuffed crucifixion style to a cell door. The screams and
moans of young women echoing through the cell block C. Another young woman
dragged naked, bloody through a garbage strewn prison hall. Hunger strikers
denied access to water or toilets. Metal handcuffs pounding, smashing the
fingers, hand and wrist of prisoners who refuse to be finger printed.
These are the scenes reported by eyewitnesses from Philadelphia's central
prison, the Roundhouse, on Friday morning, August 4th. As the Republican
Party National Convention left town, over four hundred men and women
remained in jail, many for the fourth day. Their bails range from $6,000 to
$30,000. One man was given a bail of $450,000. Two people, including Ruckus
Society founder John Sellers, are being held on bail of one million dollars.
They were among thousands of people who mobilized in Philadelphia this week
to confront and challenge the corporate controlled power structure at the
appointment of Republican Presidential candidate George W Bush.
Free Speech TV has been in Philadelphia all week, providing live television
broadcast from the Independent Media Center. All the news that the
corporate media censors. Each morning an expanded two hour telecast of
Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales has
examined the issues and interviewed the young men and women who have dared
disrupt the festivities of the powerful. Each evening, Crashing the
Party! - an hour and a half report on the day's events, hosted by Radio for
Change's Laura Flanders has told the real stories of their creative
challenges and Philadelphia's brutal response.
Free Speech TV's coverage can be seen on Dish Network Channel 9415 and has
been carried live on over 30 Public Access cable stations around the
country. It has also been streamed live and archived at www.freespeech.org.
You can visit our website to get a Dish Network Satellite so that you can
follow our coverage as we move to the Independent Media Center in Los
Angeles on August 14th -18th to cover the mobilizations that will confront
the Democratic Party at the coronation of Al Gore.
We need your support to continue this unprecedented coverage. Please
contribute to the effort at www.freespeech.org/donations.html.
Now the emergency statement released by R2K, that has sponsored this weeks
mobilization of opposition in Philly.
August 4, 2000
Contacts: Paul Davis, ACT UP Philadelphia, just released from jail, 215 280
7536 (cell) R2K Legal: 215 925 6791 R2K Media: 215 545 1505
BRUTAL TREATMENT CONTINUES AGAINST JAILED PROTESTERS
UNPRECEDENTED CRACKDOWN HIGHLIGHTS SYSTEMATIC ATTACK ON DEMOCRATIC
PRINCIPLES OF PEACEFUL PROTEST AND PEOPLE OF CONSCIENCE
Philadelphia, PA ~ On the last day of the Republican National Convention, in
Philadelphia, the cradle of democracy, police and federal authorities have
demonstrated a determination to undermine both the US Constitution and
people's basic human rights. Jailed demonstrators continue to demand medical
treatment, access to lawyers, access to phones, and timely release. Outside,
solidarity actions continue, with rallies planned at Franklin Park at 7 p.m.
Guards, police, and administrators continue to attack protestors in jail,
seeking to demoralize and divide. Recently released prisoners have reported
eyewitness accounts of widespread abuse that can only be described as
torture. 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. Seven
witnesses saw one woman dragged naked and bleeding. Diabetics, epileptics,
and asthmatics continue to be denied medication. Trauma and psychological
stress are evident.
Paul Davis, from ACT UP Philadelphia, reports his eyewitness accounts of
brutality inside the Philadelphia jail. "I saw a man handcuffed to his cell
door in a crucifixion position. I heard women screaming and being dragged
along the floor. I saw a woman screaming in pain as a police officer said,
'You want more?! You want more?!'"
Arrestees have now been held for over 60 hours without arraignment, some
without phone calls or contact with their lawyers. Detainees report missing
paperwork, and arraignments with incomplete or slipshod records.
Philadelphia continues to restrict R2K Legal Committee lawyers, allowing
only a total of three lawyers access to all six detention sites, and
hundreds of defendants. Prosecutors have set unprecedented high bail for
non-violent civil disobedience. Most bails range from $15,000 to $30,000,
while others are much higher. Two individuals have bail of $1,000,000, an
amount typically reserved for serial killers, not community organizers,
non-violence training facilitators artists and puppet makers charged with
"I consider this a civil rights catastrophe of the first order," R2K Legal
Committee counsel Ron McGuire stated. "This is an attack on our 14th
Amendment. An attack on due process and reasonable bail." "This is a
systematic political effort to undermine and destroy the momentum of a
growing movement for social and environmental justice."
R2K Legal has documented 381 confirmed arrests, not including members of the
International Action Center and School of Americas Watch (15 more).
Additionally, there are people we have not heard from (we estimate up to
30), but due to restrictions on protester's access to telephones, there is
really no way to tell. Of these people, approximately 60 have accepted
"Release on Own Recognizance" or "Signed On Bail." Prisoners are working
together to agree on and communicate their demands. Solidarity tactics to
demand their release include singing, chanting, and story telling, along
with a 150-person-strong hunger strike. Some have been on hunger strike for
as long as 56 hours. Three men have fasted without water for 28 hours.
Supporters are asked to phone Mayor John Street at 215.686.2181 and demand
the immediate release of these political prisoners.
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