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Brutal Treatment Of Philadelphia Protestors

Freespeech.org Urgent Action Newsletter - August 5, 2000

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. Their crime?

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 misdemeanors.

"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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