(Also posted to rn list) ============================================================================ From: "Michael Albert" <•••@••.•••> Subject: ZNet Update / Arrestees in Philly, Action Urgently Needed Date: Sat, 5 Aug 2000 19:07:04 +0100 Hi, This is another special ZNet Update with more information about the continuing situation in Philadelphia. This will go out to over 37,000 people, and hopefully each of you will forward it to others, as well. Updates generaly go to free update recipients about twice a month, though for unusual circumstances such as this, we sometimes send an additional offering. You can remove or change your email address for Free ZNet Updates at the ZNet top page -- www.zmag.org/weluser.htm ----- UPDATE ON ARRESTEES IN PHILADELPHIA - ACTION URGENTLY NEEDED by Leslie Cagan 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 arraignments * 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 periods. 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. WHAT YOU CAN DO: 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) 215-685-3684 Chief Maxwell (Head of Criminal Investigations for the police) 215-686-3362 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.... Why are non-violent demonstrators being held in this manner? Why such high bail amounts? Why are they not just being released? Have all the protesters been arraigned? If not, why not? 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.