Bad News from Philly


Reproduced with absolutely no permission or any clear idea of the provenance of this text. These are email messages that have been forwarded to me from various sources. My own personal anecdote about this is as follows:
Me: Have you been following the news from Philly? Doesn't sound good.
Friend: Yes, I was listening to a report on the BBC.
Me: (snicker) not on any major US media I bet.
Friend: Of course not . . .
(lengthy pause)
Me: You know, I remember when people had to listen to foreign radio stations to find out what was going on at home in their own country. But it was the 60's and they were behind the Iron Curtain.
Friend: Yeah.
(another lengthy pause)
Me: Scared yet?
Friend: Very.
From here on down you are on your own. I wasn't there. I'm just posting what online news has come my way, since it seems very difficult to get any honest news from the major media outlets.

Anonymous Correspondent 1

There's something really important happening in Philly around the republican convention that is being kept from the rest of us. People are being arrested, charge with misemeanors and getting $10,000-$1 million in bail fines. Some are getting arrested just walking down the street-not even involved. The police tactics have been brutal and pre-emptive: they are using extreme force before anything has actually happened on the streets. It's a major and phony war against the peaceful protesters.

Some young folks, reporters and lawyers are in the hospital -- after being brutalized by police. The treatment of prisoners (about 500 of them) is horrible. Jamming people into cells so full they can't even sleep. Like the cattle cars of the Nazi's. Too tight handcuffs, dragging people naked on concrete floors. None of this is making it into mainstream news. The local gov't is trying for conspiracy charges and getting the feds/fbi to investigate and find the organizers. Then these kids can be political prisoners for life.

It's hard to believe this is happening in the USA; it re-awakes memories of the civil rights movement and viet nam protests nightmares, only it's worse. The police are better trained and more vicious.

for more great info on the issues the protesters are bringing to light check and the protests:

Democracy Now

also: you can hear live coverage on kpfa fm radio 8am-10pm PT. This coverage will continue for the democratic convention in LA. From the internet you can download Real Player for free and get any radio station in the world.

RealGuide

It's important for us not to sleep through this. The more of us as citizens know what the corporate media won't tell us the harder it is to get away with the many things that are hurting people in many ways. Democracy can only work with an informed public participating. This is a blatant effort by the privileged to deny the right of ordinary people to speak freely about issues that affect our lives.

The illusion of living in a free democratic state has to be exposed for what it is. Stay informed, as painful as that could be.


Anonymous Correspondent 2

A Report Allegedly from the Scene

I am at a loss how to speak of the actions of this last week. Or how to convey the tactics used by the Philadelphia government and police. Fear and intimidation were most common. Last night my friends' car was returned to us. The cops peed inside of it and smeared rotten pies through out the cab of the car. "Welcome to Philadelphia "was hand written on the car. This juvenile act was meager in comparison to the intense and unprovoked brutality. I witnessed young people fitting the protester profile beaten, searched and arrested. This happened for an hour four large blocks away from any type of protest on Wednesday. A day without confrontation.

All of those arrested have been harassed and denied their rights. I could not recount the hundreds and hundreds of stories of police brutality coming out of the Philly jails. A link to one resource is www.phillyimc.org. The IMC is only touching on some of the more explicit and horrific stories of abuse. One woman from Florida was hogged tied and dragged through the glass of a shattered light bulb the night before her arraignment.

The light bulb shattered because it was less than 50 degrees in the prison. Guards wore winter coats yet they removed any addition clothing from the inmates. Our own Ruby Red is still in custody. She was amongst the 70 arrested at the puppet space. The mayor is quoted as saying that the only puppets he saw at the puppet convergence space were the 70 being arrested.

The media filmed puppets in this space on several occasions. Even the slew of cops that they had infiltrating (some posing as union carpenters) were working on puppets. The cops destroyed the puppets and other visual symbols of our protest so that we would look chaotic and as if we were with out cause or focus for our actions. The Philadelphia government and police created a media image of the protesters and them manipulated the protest so that image would be perceived. I never witnessed any violence towards police officers. I never witnessed vandalism other them chalk during the protest. What I did see were police forces doing everything in their power to create chaos so that they could then disable further actions by jailing and intimidating activists.

Days later the intimidation is still present. Those of us remaining in Philly are here to help with the legal fights and to remain in Solidarity with our Jane and Jon Does. We are doing this amongst what seems like a media blackout.

How is this not news? When I walked away from the 12 and Race street search, seizure and beatings I passed two camera crews filming the outside of the hospital where Ford was staying. Which is news?

Take Action! Please spread the word about the illegal actions of the Philadelphia cops. Make it a topic of conversation, e-mail phone trees and your letters to the editors until all are free. Please contact the numbers listed below. Call often. Please contribute to the Philadelphia Direct Action Bail fund. For some bail will be the only way to remove them for the physical and mental harassment of the Philly cops.

Make your checks payable to the Institute for Social Medicine and Community Health (I.S.M.C.H.) and send checks to
P.D.A.GG. PO box 40683 Philadelphia, PENN. 19107
These are numbers to call to hold the government of Philadelphia accountable:

  • Mayor John Street 215-686-2181
  • A 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, Please 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.


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)
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.


2000-08-08

Anonymous Correspondent 3

i got this [Correspondent 2's text] from aimee and cara, who are 2 of the founders of radical cheerleaders. PLEASE forward this to whomever you can!!!

i called the roundhouse jail number and actually was able to speak to someone -- the call was forwarded to a man on his cellphone (i'm such a dumbass, i forgot to ask his name) and he said that the president of the ACLU observed the protestors in lockup and said that there were no human rights abuses. he did not know the name of the "president", nor did he know his phone number or what branch of the ACLU he was actually the president of.

this leads me to believe that either he or someone else completely pulled this out of their asses, and even if it is true i have a funny feeling that this mysterious ACLU president was only shown a small group of prisoners/cells where the police and jail attendants were careful to behave themselves. also, he was quick to recite that the prisoners were being held in a clean facility, even though there have been countless reports to the contrary. it's very important to note that he said the "ACLU president" only observed prisoners in lockup,

NOT in the facility that they're in now; he actually made it a point to let me know that. he was very friendly and willing to talk; it was good to finally get through to someone after calling about 10 different numbers. the number i called was 215-686-1776 -- you'll get through to an operator. just say that you want to ask questions about the prisoners from the protest, and you'll (hopefully) be dispatched to someone who can answer your questions.