Subject: [July30] Philly update - 8/9/00
Date: Wed, 09 Aug 2000 14:22:27 -0400
From: Leslie Cagan <email@example.com>
from Leslie Cagan
This morning I spoke to the legal team working on the situation in Philadelphia. Here is the most up-to-date information, followed by some background and then ideas on how you can be helpful.
Total Arrests: 480
Still in Jail - as of last night (8/8): 309
Felony cases: 36
Now on Hunger Strike: almost 150
Most of those still in custody are practicing jail solidarity - see fuller explanation below.
The medical team in Philadelphia has been meeting with people as they are released from jail, and there have been reports from people still in jail. For several days people were held in the Roundhouse, the city jail, but they have been moved to the county jail where conditions, while still not great, are not nearly as severe or cruel as previously.
Here are some of the difficulties folks have had:
· At least 32 people experienced excessive force. Of those, there are 7 are accounts of severe hog ties with plastic handcuffs. “Severe hog ties” means that in less than 30 minutes prisoners’ hands were blue, swollen and persons were on the verge of loss of consciousness. In two of those cases, people were bleeding from the wrist.
· 2 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 2 other officers, and slamming a face into a cell door. The other officer’s activities include saying “I’ll fuck you up the ass and make you my bitch,” 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.
· 4 cases of denial of access to medication: 1 person with HIV denied for 2 days, received on third day. 1 person with migraine and vomiting, denied all medicine including over the counter pain meds. 1 hypoglycemic person denied access to adequate food.
· 4 counts of sexual abuse: dragging a man naked, wrenching a man’s penis, twisting a person’s nipples, man subjected to random search of genitals.
· 2 threats of rape from Commanding Officers.
Bail reduction hearings started on Monday and while a number of people had their bail reduced, there have also been new problems: the city is levying new charges against some activists after their initial arraignment; the bail judge refuses to give a hearing to prisoners participating in jail solidarity (those who are not giving their names); outrageous bail amounts are not being reduced in some cases. Average bail was set at $10,000 to $15,000, with several people having bails set in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Two people have faced $1,000,000 bails.
1) Kate Sorensen [of ACT-UP Philadelphia, the lead organizer of the health care demonstration on 7/29, and active with the Philadelphia Direct Action Group] is in quarantine until Thursday, when she has a hearing, and is not allowed visitors. She’s being charged with 10 felonies including arson, conspiracy, riot, and causing a catastrophe in connection with criminal mischief.
2) John Sellers of the Ruckus Society had his bail reduced on Monday from $1,000,000 to $100,000. (The Ruckus Society trains activists in creative tactics for non-violent protests.)
Neither of these people were arrested doing any acts of civil disobedience, they were on the sidewalks of Philly!
1) Jail Solidarity - what is it?
Many of those arrested during the protests have been practicing Jail Solidarity. When deciding to use this tactic, something that has been done throughout history, people agree to stick together and not attempt to be released until basic human rights demands have been met and all arrestees are safely released together. Some of the demands sought by those doing solidarity here include: an end to solitary confinement; access to telephones, toilets and essential medication; equal treatment for all arrestees, including dropping bogus felony charges; and access to their lawyers.
2) What They Were Demonstrating About?
During the Republican Convention, thousands of people came together for several days of demonstrations about issues being ignored this election-year -- such as the death penalty, poverty and health care. Tuesday, Aug. 1st was a day of action to expose problems with the criminal justice system, including the death penalty, police brutality, and political prisoners. The plan for the day included a permitted rally near City Hall, and several publicly announced, non-violent civil disobedience actions. Protesters aimed to make sure Republican delegates could not travel from Center City to the convention without getting the message that thousands of people oppose their criminal justice policies. Naturally, it was hard for onlookers to understand what Tuesday’s protests were about, since police arrested 88 people who were making puppets for the protests before the day even started, and confiscated the signs designed to get the message across.
3) What about the tactics of the protestors?
The mainstream media has painted a picture of the August 1st protests as dominated by vandalism and violence against police officers. However, almost all of the protesters being held were arrested because they participated in completely non-violent civil disobedience, or because police suspected that they might take part in it. Still others were arrested who were not even taking part in demonstrations, including legal observers, peacekeepers, and bystanders. Only a few of the hundreds of jailed protesters have been accused of violence or vandalism.
1) Call the mayor and district attorney in Philadelphia:
Mayor John Street
Phone: 215-686-2181 fax: 215-686-2180
District Attorney Lynn Abraham
Tell them you oppose the outrageous bail and conditions these activists are facing. Demand that the protesters be released, together, to receive medical treatment and due process of law. Let them know that people around the country are following this.
Ask everyone you can to do the same.
Make your tax-deductible check out to”ISMCH” (they’re the Fiscal
Sponsor, The Institute of Social Medicine and Community Health), and
mail it to:
Philadelphia Direct Action Group (P-DAG).
P.O. Box 40683
Philadelphia, PA 19107-0683
You can also wire transfer money to ACT UP Philadelphia. This will not be tax-deductible, but you can use your credit card. Here are the details:
Account number: 31 00 20 557
Routing number: 036 001 808
1900 Market Street
Commerce Bank phone 215-568-0900
Please be sure to send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org to alert her of
the donation . For more information on making donations or helping with
fundraising: call: 215-748-1887 BOX 7, Visit site:
Contact your local media and ask them to cover the story; write letters to the editor; call radio talk shows.
Ask your organization, labor union, religious group, local elected officials, etc. to pass a resolution or issue a statement calling on the city of Philadelphia to release the prisoners. In addition to sending such statements to the mayor of Philadelphia, be sure to release them to the press.
To stay informed, check out the following web sites: