cj#1114> Arrestees in Philly, Action Urgently Needed


Richard Moore

(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


This is another special ZNet Update with more information
about the continuing situation in Philadelphia. This will go
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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

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

*       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 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

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
City Council President Ann Verna 215-686-3442 or
215-686-3412 and 3413. Mayor's Chief of Staff Stuber
Roundhouse Jail 215-686-1776 or 215-685-8574

And here are several important questions to ask these

Why are non-violent demonstrators being held in this manner?
Why such high bail amounts? Why are they not just being

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