FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 9, 2000
Cliff Pearson, Dallas Progressive Action League, (214) 319-9819, email@example.com
R2K Network Legal Support Team, (215) 925-6791
Police Commissioner calls for ‘federal investigation’ of activists
· Philly police admit Thomas Jones didn’t shoot police officer
· Update on the arrested Dallas and San Antonio activists
· Philly officials say ‘no leniency’ for protesters
· Most arrested activists moved to prison
· Protest organizers release reports on alleged abuses
· Contact information for Philly authorities
· Narrative report on exactly what happened to Dallas people
Editors Note: Scott Haws and Ann, the Dallas activists mentioned below, are available immediately for telephone interviews. They are uncertain when they will return to Dallas for on camera interviews. Ann and Milo’s last names are different than Scott’s and they prefer not to have their last names used. “Jail solidarity” is a tactic of nonviolent resistance, a type of jail strike, in which the arrested group collectively oppose alleged unjust treatment by refusing to cooperate with jail authorities. The R2K Network is the organizing body for the protests. (Background information at bottom of briefing.)
“I think that there is . . . a cadre, if you will, of criminal conspirators who are about the business of planning a conspiracy to really cause mayhem, to cause property damage, to cause violence,” in cities hosting major events, [Philadelphia Police Commissioner John Timoney said [to the Philadelphia Inquirer yesterday morning].
“We are the third or fourth city to suffer,” Timoney said, mentioning recent demonstrations in Seattle and Washington.
Timoney said he believed federal investigators ought to “take a look” at the groups involved in planning disruption and violence.
Philadelphia police admit Thomas Jones didn’t shoot officer
An officer whose wounded thumb led to a frantic chase and a nationally televised police beating of the suspect was shot by another officer, authorities say.
Charges of attempted murder and aggravated assault against suspect Thomas Jones were dropped yesterday after ballistics tests indicated he did not shoot Philadelphia police officer Michael Livewell on July 12. Jones is still accused of carjacking, robbery and fleeing police.
Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham said the shot was fired by officer Cedric Gaines.
Activists will remember that shortly after the televised beating of Jones, Philadelphia police were chastised for making and selling T-shirts out of a still shot from the videotaped beating bearing the caption, “Welcome, Protesters.”
In light of Philadelphia officials reversing themselves on this matter, can we consider that perhaps they’re wrong in their insistences that the arrested activists are not being abused n their jails?
Update on the Dallas and San Antonio people
Kendall, Milo, and one of the young men from the San Antonio Green Party are back in Dallas. They are all resting, and are dealing with some post traumatic stress. Kendall reports a little survivor guilt over his friends being in jail while he was not. (I had a lot of this too). Kendall plans to attend the Dallas County Green Party meeting this evening to answer questions and report on the situation in Philadelphia. Milo and his San Antonio companion are still undecided about attending the meeting. The Dallas County Green Party meets at 5828 Worth Street in Dallas, at the Dallas Quaker Meeting house, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Scott and Ann remain in Philadelphia where they are still trying to retrieve
their van from police custody. The police continue to insist that it is “evidence”
and refuse to release it. Scott’s attorney is
requesting the “property receipt” that is required by local laws, but it still doesn’t seem to exist. (Leslie Cagan of the R2K Network had earlier reported cases of missing paperwork, this is an example.) Milo’s charges were dropped because he’s a minor. Scott and Ann still face misdemeanor charges. Neither Scott nor Ann know when their court dates will be.
The are still two San Antonio Greens, both Hispanic young women under 25, who are still incarcerated. Their charges are identical to Scott’s and Ann’s but their charges are being called felonies, and their bail in $50,000 (recently reduced from $500,000).
What are the charges? It’s a laundry list. For the heinous crime of planning (not accomplishing) to stand in a street and block a bus in an effort to prevent it from carrying delegates to the Republican National Convention, they all are charged with:
possession of the implements of crime (blockade device covered
anti-death penalty slogans)
· reckless endangerment of a person (who? no one knows)
· conspiracy to commit reckless endangerment of a person
· conspiracy to commit criminal mischief
· obstruction of justice (for exercising their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent)
· conspiracy to obstruct justice
· disorderly conduct
· conspiracy to commit disorderly conduct
· obstruction of a highway conspiracy to obstruct a highway
The story of Milo’s release is like a Movie of the Week.
Milo, Scott’s son, is only 16-years old.
Scott says he found out that Milo had been transferred from jail to prison – adult prison – with many other inmates. This alarmed Scott, who decided not to wait for the attorney.
Scott says he went to the District Attorney’s office but they were rude and uncooperative. Despite the fact that Scott had Milo’s birth certificate and high school photo identification card, the District Attorney was not willing to release Milo to Scott, or at least transfer Milo to juvenile, without “further proof.”
Scott says he then went to the County Commissioner’s Court where they managed to get an emergency judge for him. The judge overruled the District Attorney and ordered Milo to be handled as a juvenile case, and released to Scott on his own recognizance. After all this mess, the District Attorney decided to drop Milo’s charges completely, and he was released to Scott. According to Scott, the good news is, this brave young man never broke jail solidarity.
‘No leniency,’ despite national and international calls for justice
Reports today on the Knight-Ridder News Service and the Reuters, Ltd. news wire quote Philadelphia police and city officials as saying there will be “no leniency” for the arrested activists. They are refusing to lower bails or drop the multiple charges, despite national and international calls for justice by activists groups and organizations. (These articles are available via their wires, or from me by request.)
The ACLU of Pennsylvania, the National Lawyers Guild, and several bar associations from around the country have all condemned the reported abuses and excessive bails. I have an unconfirmed report that the Police Commission on Human Rights, an anti-police brutality organization of law enforcement workers, has been denied access to the jails and prisons to verify the abuse allegations. (Press releases available from their Web sites, www.aclu.org, nlg.org, or from me upon request.)
I have received e-mails from hundreds of people all over the country, and from a group in Germany all responding to the calls for justice for those in jail and prison in Philadelphia.
Elliot, one of the R2K Network’s legal observers, is requesting that people please take a moment to write the people who are being held in Philadelphia. He says, “They need to hear from us. Send them a postcard, a letter, anything. Let them know we care and we are all working to secure their release.” Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the prisoner numbers for any but a handful of the prisoners because authorities are granting only very limited access to the prisons and jails. The first name address is at the women’s prison. The second is the men’s prison. “Turtle,” “Near,” and “Linus,” etc. are the code names these prisoners are using. They still refuse to give their names because they are practicing jail solidarity.
Turtle PP 908052
8301 State Rd.
Philadelphia, PA 19136
Near PP 908047
Linus PP 908051
Decade PP 908001
Fortnight PP 907925
Most arrested moved to prison, cameras in the jail
Last night, a Dallas activist was told by the Police Commissioner’s office that all of the prisoners who have given their names and paid a tenth of their bail have been arraigned and released, and that the others have been moved to prison.
This gentleman also says that the Police Commissioner’s office continued to deny any abuses have taken place, and said that if there were any abuses, the camera in the jails would have captured them. The Dallas gentleman than said, “then we’ll have to subpoena the tapes then won’t we?,” at which point the police officer grew quiet.
Remember, the police are trying to say that the protesters are alleging abuse because they were in jail so long. The police say they are detained a long time because they won’t give their names. But this is communicative misdirection. (I majored in communications, I know all sorts of big words.) The police are not speaking to the issue. The question is not “are we processing them fast enough?” The alleged abuses have nothing to do with being in jail too long. The police are implying that if the jailed prisoners would give their names that everything would go smoother. But this is not the issue. The abuses are happening, according to numerous eyewitnesses.
The ACLU’s Stefan Presser did, indeed, go into the jails and was reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer as saying that he “found no evidence of abuse” but that he “didn’t rule out the possibility.”
The police are using this man’s statements as proof that everything’s fine in the jails. But first of all, Mr. Presser didn’t say it wasn’t happening, only that he hadn’t seen evidence of it yet. And his statement stands in sharp contrast to the numerous firsthand reports by released prisoners. Secondly, and most importantly, the R2K Network fired Mr. Presser prior to his having made these comments because of his constant praisings of the police, even amid substantial reports of abuse, and because of his unwillingness to cooperate with the organizational leadership.
So, if the police use Stefan Presser as their non-police source that there are no abuses, don’t accept it. Continue to demand that the media and the arrested activists’ legal counsel be allowed to go into the jails and check out the abuse stories.
Report from R2K Legal Support
(As of Monday, August 7, 2000)
Total Arrests: 480
Still in Jail: 325
Felony cases: 36
Now on Hunger Strike: 149
All the women and most of the men have pledged to go on hunger strikes if negotiations with the Philadelphia police do not progress. Most of those on hunger strike began last week, many on Tuesday.
Preliminary hearings for the felony cases started last night (Tuesday, Aug. 8) at 8:00 p.m. and are expected to last until August 18.
Report from R2K Medical Support
(As of Monday, August 7, 2000)
These are reports from debriefings of released prisoners, regarding incidents they experienced firsthand. In other words, these are only the cases for which paperwork has been done. It is by no means all the reported cases. The medical and legal team say they will compile and document more cases as prisoners are released. The documentation team has interviewed witnesses of multiple incidents of brutality against protesters and prisoners, some of whom are still incarcerated.
They have 32 counts of excessive force, of which seven are accounts of severe hog ties, meaning the tie down was completed in less than 30 minutes. Prisoners’ hands were blue and swollen and several people were on the verge of losing consciousness. In two of those cases, people were bleeding from the wrist.
Two police officer’s names and badge numbers come up repeatedly. One is responsible for dragging a man in the nude, grabbing a protester’s penis, stepping on necks, jumping on a man’s back with the help of two other officers, slamming a face into a cell door.
The other officer’s activities include reportedly saying “I’ll f*ck you up the a** and make you my b*tch,” slamming a man against wall repeatedly, punching a prisoner in the stomach, holding a prisoner’s face in the trash with his knee in the prisoner’s neck, throwing a prisoner against the wall. (Note: I have left a message with Legal Support to get these officer’s names and badge numbers.)
They have four cases of reported denial of access to medication: one person with HIV reports being denied for two days. One person with migraines, who was vomiting, claims to have been denied all medicine including over the counter painkillers. One hypoglycemic person claims being denied access to adequate food. There are other reports of asthmatics and diabetics being denied medication.
District Attorney Lynne Abraham, (215) 686-5777
Mayor John Street, (215) 686-2181
Deputy Police Commissioner Mitchell, (215) 686-3364
Capt. Fisher (Police Civil Affairs), (215) 685-3684
Chief Maxwell (Criminal Investigations), (215) 686-3362
Police Commissioner John Timoney, (215) 686-3149 or (215) 686-3388
City Council President Anna Verna, (215) 686-3412 and 3413
Mayor’s Chief of Staff, Stephanie Suber, (215) 686-7508
Roundhouse Jail, (215) 685-8574
City Solicitor Ken Trujillo, (215) 6835003
Council Member Mr. Nutter, (215) 6853416
Council Member Ms. Blackwell, (215) 6853418
When calling Philadelphia authorities, media are encouraged to ask:
Why are nonviolent demonstrators being held in this manner?
· Why such high bail amounts?
· Why are they not just being released?
· Legal observers and released prisoners are reporting that people are being abused, denied bathroom visits, medicine, food, water, etc. What do you have to say about these allegations?
Activists are demanding the following:
unconditionally and immediately release all the remaining prisoners,
or at least –
· cease the reported “federal investigation” and stop calling nonviolent activists “terrorists”
· drop all charges on all the arrested activists – including the felony charges and the charges against those who have already been released
· cease separating and isolating some of the prisoners allow full access to health care including medicines; food and restrooms
· allow attorneys to meet with the all the arrested activists
· allow the media to enter the jails to determine the veracity of the abuse stories.
Released Dallas activist recounts Philly jail abuses
Reprinted from the Independent Media Center Philadelphia
Friday, August 4, 2000
By Cliff Pearson
Arbitrary search and seizure and random arrests. Trumped up charges. Excessive bail. Denial of food, water, and medical care in jail. Threats. No legal counsel. The latest human rights report on a Third World country? No, this is happening right here in the United States. The victims – protesters.
Dallas Progressive Action League members Scott Haws, his wife Ann, and their 16-year-old son Milo, together with Kendall Clark and Cliff Pearson – all of Dallas – traveled to Philadelphia to join the national protest of the Republican National Convention. (Note: Ann and Milo have different last names than Scott, and they prefer not to have their last names printed.)
Scott, Ann, and Milo all went to Philadelphia in their van. Kendall went with them. They arrived in Philadelphia on Friday night, July 28. I arrived by plane Saturday night, July 29.
Scott, Ann, Milo, and four Greens from San Antonio – who prefer not to be identified yet – were arrested Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 1, along with 13 other activists in Scott’s van. The van was impounded.
Kendall and I were not arrested. I am back home, but Kendall is still in Philadelphia working for the unconditional and immediate release of all the arrested activists.
Scott, Ann and Milo were transporting the other 16 people in their van to the
scene of an area to protest. Kendall and I were going to be support people for
the group. Kendall and I were supposed to rendezvous with the group at the Greyhound
bus station at 3:00 p.m., at which point we would
go to the scene of the protest (two blocks away) and perform the action we had planned. The group never showed up.
Finally, at 3:30 p.m., Kendall got a phone call on his cell phone. It was Scott. He told Kendall that 15 Philadelphia State Police officers had surrounded his van and arrested everyone in it. The 19 had not committed any crimes or actions of any kind. They were not anticipating arrest.
Kendall and I immediately started calling the emergency contact numbers the group of 19 had given us. We also called the protest organizers’ Legal Support Team and everyone else that needed to know what was happening. I concentrated on the mainstream and alternative media.
Because I needed to be back at work Wednesday morning, Aug. 2, I left that night. Kendall stayed.
All day on Tuesday, Aug. 1, the police stopped and frisked everyone that looked – as they called us – “suspicious.” Kendall says he was randomly stopped and frisked about eight times while walking around trying to get information about our arrested friends on Wednesday, Aug. 2. At one point, his finger was bent back when he was slammed against a wall and frisked by police officers. He thought it was broken but it wasn’t, it was only bruised.
Scott got out of jail at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 3. He is being charged with numerous felonies. He doesn’t remember what they all are, but he says they are trumped up, ridiculous charges.
He says that his son Milo was with him the whole time he was in jail and is still in jail. Scott says the jail cells are filthy and small and the guards are putting people in them 4-7 to a cell. Scott says there were at least 200 people where he was, in the jail they call the “Roundhouse.”
Scott’s wife Ann got out of jail on Saturday night, Aug. 5. Their son Milo is expected to be released Aug. 7. The vast majority of the arrested activists. This would mark six days in jail for the 16-year-old boy. Ann says she’s in generally good physical condition, except for some minor bruises she got in jail.
Despite denials by the Philadelphia police to some Green Party members from Houston and to me, Scott has confirmed the civil and human rights abuse stories. He says none of the prisoners were given food for 14 hours. He says they never had bathroom breaks. He was told by jail guards that an ACLU lawyer came to represent the arrested activists at their arraignment hearings, but that he was not allowed to meet with any of the arrested activists.
Scott says that asthmatics and diabetics were not allowed to have their medicines. He told me that one diabetic woman became sick and passed out from not having had her medicine, and that the arrested activists had to chant for several hours before the nurse finally came to check on her.
Scott made clear to me that he wants everyone to know that there is “some serious solidarity going on” in the jail. Scott says that every time an abuse was witnessed or something was done that violated their civil and human rights, that they did a sit-down strike or a human chain to nonviolently resist their abuse.
Most of the abuses, according to Scott, were verbal. He says the jail guards
repeatedly called them “faggots” and “sissies” among other things. (No racial
slurs though, thankfully.) He says they were threatened numerous times with
being transferred from jail to prison where they’ll be “anally
raped” unless they do as told.
Scott has spoken with between 15 and 20 media representatives, mostly – but not exclusively – from the mainstream media. He spoke with the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram on Friday, Aug. 4.
So what exactly happened? Scott says that there was, indeed, a police infiltrator in the planning group at the puppet space as we originally thought. Scott says that there were actually three undercover police officers in our affinity group’s planning meetings. (One of them was indeed the guy I thought was a cop.) Scott says that two of the police infiltrators were identified in Philadelphia media reports.
The other one was driving Scott’s van at the time they were stopped and impounded.
Scott says that the driver was supposed to go a certain route but didn’t. He
passed the turn he was supposed to make, and drove instead right into a crowd
of 15 Philadelphia State Police officers. The driver was
then taken off in a police car by himself, and Scott never saw him again.
Other suggestions of police infiltration include the July 31 disappearance of Kendall’s laptop computer from the YMCA where we were staying with scores of other activists – sleeping on the gym floor. Nothing else was stolen. An Independent Media Center photojournalist awoke to discover all her film stolen – but not her camera – on the same day.
Scott, Ann, and Kendall say they don’t know when they’ll come back to Dallas. But they do plan to make themselves available to the media for interviews.
A nationwide movement has begun to demand that Philadelphia authorities: unconditionally release all the prisoners, drop all charges on all the arrested activists – including the felony charges and the charges against those that have already been released, cease separating and isolating some of the prisoners, allow full access to health care including medicines; food and restrooms, and allow the attorneys to meet with the arrested activists.
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