"The illegal we can do right now; the unconstitutional will take a little longer."
For a long time, I've been warning that creeping fascism was threatening to take over the United States, and that a free, open society is in clear jeopardy. In my essay titled, "The Gathering Darkness: America in the 21st Century," I discuss why this is happening, who is behind it and what their motives are.
Well, now, I have abundant proof that the essay I wrote originally in 1996, was prescient. Much to my disgust and anger, I have been proven right, as the following article will clearly demonstrate.
In this article are several press dispatches, from a variety of sources. They show, first, a clear pattern of forcible police repression of legitimate, non-violent and quite legal political protest, and now even a crackdown on the press. Second, and even more alarming, is the fact that at least the Portland, Oregon police were fearless enough about it to actually admit to their victims that their intent was to suppress unpopular political views. And finally, the Los Angeles Unified School District, in the best of fascist tradition, is deliberately creating an atmosphere of fear, repression and intimidation in an attempt to enforce conformity in their schools - to the extent that the students have begun to openly rebel.
If this were happening in some banana republic or recently 'democratized' formerly-communist country someplace, we wouldn't be surprised. But for these things to be happening in the country that loudly proclaims itself to be the beacon of freedom and liberty to the world, shows just how hypocritical those who run this country really are, how far we have progressed down the road to fascism, and how totally unaware most Americans are that their constitutional rights are being ignored and even contemptuously trampled.
What's alarming is that these aren't just isolated incidents, here and there, but part of a clear pattern that has begun to emerge. There is an evident effort being made to emasculate the protections of the Bill of Rights.
We will begin with the following article by Patricia Nell Warren which explains very well the peril in which all Americans, not just anarchists or persons of color or members of sexual minorities find themselves:
On April 2, a courtroom drama unfolded as Judge Thomas Mellon faced ACT UP San Francisco members David Pasquarelli, Michael Bellefountaine, and Todd Swindell. Last year, when the three men went to a Project Inform meeting, intending to protest PI's recommendations of drugs that can have serious, sometimes fatal, side effects, a scuffle broke out. The three were arrested, and had the book thrown at them by the San Francisco district attorney's office. The jury didn't buy the felony charges, including those for assault. But the three still faced sentencing for misdemeanors: disturbing the peace, unlawful assembly, participating in a riot. Possible maximum: one year in jail and a $2,000 fine for Pasquarelli and Swindell, plus six months and $2,000 for Bellefountaine.
A year behind bars for such minor offenses?
Even in the worst of times, our country has traditionally allowed wiggle room for civil disobedience. After all, the U.S.A. was founded on an act of disobedience called the American Revolution. In the early 1800s, Henry David Thoreau infuriated Puritan autocrats by refusing to pay religious taxes mandated by Massachusetts law. Was Thoreau jailed for a year? No. In his landmark essay "Civil Disobedience" he tells of passing one night in the local calabozo.
In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on an Alabama bus, in a time of unrelenting segregation law, when blacks were still lynched in the South. Was Parks jailed for a year? No. She was arrested and fined $14. In 1958 the Rev. Martin Luther King was fined $14 for ignoring a police order at a demonstration. (King chose fourteen days in jail rather than paying the fine.) Through the '60s and '70s, the campus takeovers, anti-war marches, and grape-pickers' strikes, these arrests were usually treated like parking tickets. Charges were summary, and the cops let you go. A long arrest record was an activist's badge of honor. Only a few did serious prison time because they advocated overthrow of the government.
Today the United States has suddenly junked its respect for civil disobedience. Quietly, when Americans weren't looking, law enforcement and legislators have slapped a high markup on the penal price of protest. They now consider that kind of activism to border on "domestic terrorism," and are prosecuting it under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), the way organized crime and harassment of abortion clinics are now prosecuted. A key court decision, NOW v. Scheidler, has "created outrageously prohibitive sanctions for what are essentially minor violations of law," according to Crisis magazine. Nonviolent protesters are being hammered with huge bails, huge fines, multiple counts, and many months, even many years, in prison. A single arrest can now destroy your life.
Indeed, many students who demonstrate about campus issues like affirmative action have no idea how bloodthirsty the law has gotten...till it's too late. Several years ago, a seventeen-year-old I know was arrested at an anti-David Duke fracas at Cal State Northridge. He thought it would be a lark, but was shocked to find himself facing three felony charges, possible trial as a violent adult, and the first of "three strikes, you're out." Only vigorous lawyering by his parents got him probation as a juvenile.
Last year was a watershed in American history -- the thunderclap reappearance of large-scale sixties-type demonstrations. We live in a new age of festering social problems, but we also face new government hostility to dissent. During the World Treaty Organization meeting in Seattle, as well as the Republican and Democratic conventions, protesters found themselves facing police trained for urban war. Cops overreacted and arrested bystanders, medics, and media people as well as actual demonstrators. Some were slammed with million-dollar bails and held for days without being notified of charges or allowed to call lawyers. Thanks to ACLU involvement, many got their charges dismissed, but the unlucky are looking at long months or years in prison. Most major media avoided covering these trials or even noting the erosion of our American right to protest.
The punitive new attitude toward protest is part of a general obsession with crime-busting and prison-building. In a recent Salon article titled "Hooked on Prisons," Maria Russo wrote, "In the aftermath of the Cold War...prisons are now seen primarily as sources of jobs and revenue, rather than as places for rehabilitating criminals...There are, of course, other factors at play in the prison boom: The crime rate may have fallen steadily in the last decade, but the length of the average prison sentence has gone up." Another author, Joseph T. Hallinan, tells in his "Going up the River" how the rise of mandatory-sentencing laws, in particular those for drug offenses, are packing the prisons with nonviolent offenders serving long terms. Protesters now get essentially the same treatment as drug offenders.
A similar erosion of protest rights is happening in Canada, where one nonviolent logging protester, a seventy-one-year-old grandmother was sentenced to one year in prison.
I'm alarmed by this trend -- especially as it impacts growing outrage around abuses in our medical system. Evidence of harm done by some AIDS drugs has piled so high that the federal government about-faced in January, withdrawing earlier fulsome recommendation of "hit early, hit hard." The government had known about the drug problems for years -- side effects were openly discussed at the 1998 Geneva AIDS conference. Yet Washington waited for three years, and risked countless lives, before acting.
Rising outrage at the inhumanity of our medical system, and ongoing revelations about the dangers of many drugs and vaccines rushed through FDA approval, is creating a growing crisis of confidence among patients, families, and doctors. Healthcare issues have already sparked demonstrations -- like the people in wheelchairs who besieged the DNC headquarters in Washington to demand increased healthcare choices. The stage is set to view health protesters as "domestic terrorists."
The HAART meltdown, in particular, creates acute political discomfort for state and city public-health officials, as well as for pharmaceutical companies, health nonprofits, and AIDS service orgs who took hard-line positions on AIDS drugs and suddenly found the rug yanked from under them when "hit early, hit hard" bit the dust. In San Francisco, where public-health officials view themselves as the point guys for national AIDS policy, conflict between AIDS dissenters and AIDS defenders has reached the boiling point. A punitive sentence for the ACT UP three would have a national impact -- one more nail in the coffin of legal protest. The three men were convicted only for first-time misdemeanors. How would society benefit from their long imprisonment when Uncle Sam admits to the very problems they were protesting?
That day in San Francisco, Judge Mellon's fax machine smoked with incoming messages demanding the maximum punishment. Mayor Willie Brown, who seemed to have forgotten that assault charges had been dismissed, characterized the defendants as violent criminals. Some faxes, including mine, called for leniency. The defendants rejected a three-year probation deal.
In the courtroom, before a packed crowd, the judge sentenced Swindell and Pasquarelli to 120 days in the county jail. Bellefountaine got sixty days. The three were fined $1,000 each. The men's attorneys immediately appealed. Said Swindell: "The Mayor and District Attorney need to get a clue: wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to criminalize political protesters and stamp out AIDS dissent won't fly in San Francisco."
I never thought I'd see the day when a $14 fine looked lenient. Thoreau's essay may still be required reading in school, but if Thoreau and Rosa Parks were arrested today, they'd wind up in orange jumpers behind razor wire. Americans who assemble peacefully to protest corporate greed, environmental destruction, and human rights are being sent a chilling message. That message is meant for health protesters as well.
Patricia Nell Warren's newest novel "The Wild Man" is now available at bookstores everywhere or at wildcatpress.com. You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2001 by Patricia Nell Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
What Patricia talked about is part of an overall trend that is very disturbing. The FBI, for example, has entered the censorship business in deciding what information to which you will have access:
On the evening of Saturday, April 21, a day which saw tens of thousands demonstrating against the FTAA in the streets of Quebec City, the Independent Media Center in Seattle was served with a sealed court order by two FBI agents and an agent of the US Secret Service. The terms of the sealed order prevented IMC volunteers from publicizing its contents; volunteers immediately began discussions with legal counsel to amend the order. This morning, Magistrate Judge Monica Benton issued an amended order, freeing us to discuss the situation without the threat of being held in contempt. The original order, also issued by Judge Benton, directed the IMC to supply the FBI with "all user connection logs" for April 20 and 21st from a web server occupying an IP address which the Secret Service believed belonged to the IMC. The order stated that this was part of an "ongoing criminal investigation" into acts that could constitute violations of Canadian law, specifically theft and mischief. IMC legal counsel David Sobel, of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, comments: "As the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized, the First Amendment protects the right to communicate anonymously with the press and for political purposes. An order compelling the disclosure of information identifying an indiscriminately large number of users of a website devoted to political discourse raises very serious constitutional issues." To provide the same protection to the press and anonymous sources in the Internet world as with more traditional media, the Government must be severely limited in its ability to demand their Internet identity--their "Internet Protocol addresses." A federal statute already requires that such efforts against the press be approved by the Attorney General, and only where essential and after alternatives have been exhausted. There is no suggestion that these standards were met here. The sealed court order also directed the IMC not to disclose "the existence of this Application or Order, or the existence of this investigation, unless or until ordered by this court." Such a prior restraint on a media organization goes to the heart of the First Amendment. Ironically, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer learned about the existence of the order from "federal sources," suggesting that the purpose of the gag order was simply to allow the government to spin the issue its way. The order did not specify what acts were being investigated, and the Secret Service agent acknowledged that the IMC itself was not suspected of criminal activity. No violation of US law was alleged. It is not clear whether federal law allows the Attorney General ever to approve such an investigation of US press entities to facilitate a foreign investigation. According to IMC counsel Lee Tien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, "This kind of fishing expedition is another in a long line of overbroad and onerous attempts to chill political speech and activism. Back in 1956, Alabama tried to force the NAACP to give up its membership lists -- but the Supreme Court stopped them. This order to IMC, even without the 'gag,' is a threat to free speech, free association, and privacy." Responding to questions from IMC volunteers, the agents claimed that their investigation concerned the source of either one or two postings which, they said, had been posted to an IMC newswire early Saturday morning. These posts, according to the agents, contained documents stolen from a Canadian government agency, including classified information related to the travel itinerary of George W. Bush (who was at that time in Quebec City, participating in Summit of the Americas meetings). Agents claimed that the Secret Service was notified of the existence of such posts by a tip from an (unnamed) major commercial news network. The agents were unable to provide URL addresses or titles for the postings they described. Additionally, the court order contained a non-working IP address, rather than an address assigned to any of the IMC sites. IMC volunteers nevertheless were able to identify two articles posted to the Montreal IMC which partially matched the agents' incomplete description. These articles, posted first in French and then in English translations (http://montreal.indymedia.org/front.php3?article_id=505, 514 and 515), contain sections of documents purportedly stolen from a Quebec City police car during Friday night anti-FTAA demonstrations; the documents detail police strategies for hindering protesters' mass action. It does not appear that any materials were posted to any IMC site containing Bush travel plans. Although the agents were concerned with only two posts, the court order demands "all user connections logs" for a 48-hour period, which would include individual IP addresses for every person who posted materials to or visited the IMC site during the FTAA protests. IMC legal counsel Nancy Chang, of the Center for Constitutional Rights, comments that "the overbroad sweep of the information demanded by the FBI raises the disturbing question of whether the order is calculated to discourage association with the IMC." The agents arrived at the IMC around 7pm. Seattle IMC volunteers had been busy all afternoon gathering regional IMC coverage of FTAA protests underway in Seattle and in Blaine, Washington, and coordinating coverage with other sites on the IMC network. Several visitors were also in the IMC at the time, using public computers.. While agents were speaking with one staff volunteer, another began making telephone calls in an effort to contact legal counsel. After the agents left, volunteers discussed the court order's gag provision, and began recontacting the handful of people who had already been called, in order to make sure that the terms of the court order would not be violated before legal counsel had time to appraise the situation. Initial attempts were made to contain news of the FBI/Secret Service visit; however, a few details of the story were soon leaked via a partially accurate report broadcast on the Vermont IMC internet radio stream. Soon the Seattle IMC was flooded with phone calls requesting information about what quickly began to be described as an "FBI raid," and speculations began to spread rapidly across the open-publishing newswires of various IMCs. For about three hours, a network of IMC technology volunteers attempted to comply with the court order by removing such posts from the Seattle IMC and other major IMC sites as they appeared. This had the unfortunate effect of seemingly confirming the worst suspicions of independent journalists who posted brief articles announcing or speculating about mysterious and terrible things going on at the Seattle IMC, then finding their posts removed from view minutes later. Volunteers called off this clumsy attempt at rumor control around midnight, when it became clear that removing of posts was only serving to fan the flames of rumor, and that in any case the story had already spread beyond the confines of the IMC network. In acting to remove these posts, IMC volunteers were motivated by fear of violating the court order's gag provision even before legal counsel had had a chance to review the document. We regret the feelings of confusion and disempowerment which many users of the IMC sites experienced due to Saturday night's blackout of postings on this topic, and the general frustration caused by the gag order. Since the incident occurred, several persistent, yet false, rumors have taken shape; some of these found their way into coverage published in Monday's Seattle Post-Intelligencer and other commercial media. We can now dispel some of the more common of these: No search warrant was served the IMC in connection with the court order, and nobody connected to the Seattle IMC has been arrested. No equipment or logs have been seized; the agents' visit was not a "raid." Now, free from restrictive court orders, the Seattle IMC will be able to cover this important story as it continues to unfold. The Seattle Independent Media Center was launched in Fall 1999 to provide immediate, authentic, grassroots coverage of protests against the WTO. Just a year and a half later, the IMC network has reached around the world, with dozens of sites scattered across six continents. IMCs are autonomously organized and administered, but share collective organizational principles and certain technological resources. Each IMC's news coverage centers upon its open-publishing newswire, an innovative and democratizing system allowing anyone with access to an Internet connection to become a journalist, reporting on events from his or her own perspective rather than being forced to rely on the narrow range of views presented by corporate-owned mainstream media sources. During last weekend's widespread protests against a proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas, many IMC sites collaborated to produce comprehensive coverage of demonstrations taking place in Quebec City and Sao Paulo, as well as solidarity protests in cities across the U.S. and along the Mexican and Canadian borders. The breadth and depth of coverage produced by the IMC's global network eclipsed that of many corporate media outlets. The Seattle IMC remains committed to its mission: "The Independent Media Center is a grassroots organization committed to using media production and distribution as a tool for promoting social and economic justice. It is our goal to further the self-determination of people under-represented in media production and content, and to illuminate and analyze local and global issues that impact ecosystems, communities and individuals. We seek to generate alternatives to the biases inherent in the corporate media controlled by profit, and to identify and create positive models for a sustainable and equitable society."
Our example here is from the reporting on the 2000 presidential election. On Saturday, November 11, four days after the voting had taken place, amidst a storm of controversy regarding recounting of ballots cast under questionable circumstances in Palm Beach County. Unreported by the mainstream media was the fact that two ballot boxes were found in Miami, at least one of which clearly had the potential to swing the election the other way. Here is the report by the BBC World Service as heard on shortwave and on the Internet at 2000 GMT (3:00PM Eastern).
Contrast that with the reporting on CNN Radio two hours later at 5:00 PM eastern, the same day (after CNN had had plenty of time to check out and verify the BBC report). The contrast in the content and the tone of the two pieces couldn't be more clear. No mention of the BBC report by CNN, nor any mention of the two ballot boxes. I don't need to ask what's going on here; it should be obvious that the "liberal media" are avoiding a controversy that could push a "liberal" into the White House.
Neither of these items were edited by me. They are presented here exactly as they were broadcast. Note that the CNN report sounds like the correspondent's report had been heavily edited.
The following two examples are among many I could cite at how the Bill of Rights was torn up and thrown away and trampled on by 1) the Philadelphia Police Department, 2) The United States Justice Department, Civil Rights Division, and 3) the criminal justice system in Pennsylvania, 4) the Los Angeles Police Department and 5) the two major political parties who apparently see nothing wrong with this kind of behavior on the part of police.
The two dispatches clearly show a pattern that is beginning to emerge in the law enforcement community. Evidence that in the United States, there are actually two governments: one that is the facade held up to the public as a guardian of free speech and human rights, respectful of constitutionally guaranteed rights, and the other the real government, that brooks no interference with its system of power, and will use whatever means, constitutional or otherwise, that is neccessary to maintain it.
It is the latter that is to be feared, because without a vigorous, independent media that always held it in check in the past, there is nothing to prevent it from metastacizing into an abusive fascist state as I and others have been predicting. But now, with the media being coopted by the same corporations that are in league with those in the real centers of power in government, there is no such check on the abuse of authority.
The next dispatch shows precisely why abuse of governmental authority leads to anarchy, violence and revolution. It shows how a man wanting merely to report the story was turned into committed radical as a direct result of his abuse at the hands of the Los Angeles police. And the fact that this is happening in the United States should give pause to anyone who seriously believes that the U.S. is a politically calm bastion of the protection of human rights and will always remain so. It is why anarchism and radical politics, which only recently had no real influence, is rapidly organizing and gaining adherents and visibility.
The dispatch following is the most ominous. It is from Portland, Oregon, a city that once prized it's individualism and tolerance of free speech. Apparently, no more. Mere suspicion of being an anarchist is sufficient to get you arrested in Portland, as the third dispatch shows so clearly. Such gestapo tactics of arresting dissidents who aren't threatening anybody, but merely hold unpopular political views harks back to 1930's Germany. But it's happening right here in the United States, and right now. The following dispatches were copied directly (copy and paste) from the A-INFOS dispatches (the first issued 8/10/2000 and 8/17/2000) where they first appeared, complete with the, er, colorful language in the second. The third dispatch is from Indymedia.org, a web site dedicated to getting out the news that the mainstream media conveniently ignore.
What is of interest here is the gross violations of basic constitutional rights, and the fact that both the police and the courts were appallingly indifferent to those rights:
Flea of the Puppetistas prison diary 12:25, SAT, AUG 5: FLEA of the PUPPETISTAS recorded the following timeline of his experience. Events on the bus were chanted and memorized by the group. Events in the Roundhouse were recorded by scratching on WaWa Iced Tea containers with the clasp of my watch. At CFCF they took away my watch, but I was able to scratch with the tines of a spork. Friday, Aug 4 around 9am we were supplied with pencil and paper for the first time. I am John Doe #5100, inmate 907835. I have been on hunger strike since Wed., Aug 2. My bail is $50,000. I am in solidarity, I would not wish to be bailed out even if my family and friends could afford to. I am a puppet-maker. I considered myself non-arrestable. TUES. I was the puppet warehouse at 41st and Haverford until 4am Tuesday morning, making 10 dove puppets out of clothes hanghers, cheese cloth, and copious amounts of glue. I slept in my truck that night and was back at the warehouse at 10am, painting some giant paper-mache faces with prison stripes. We were all to meet for last minute organization at 2, and were loading our puppets - my doves, cardboard prison bar masks, and ponchos with bar codes, and cardboard ball-and-chains, the giant paper mache prison heads, cockroach sandwich boards and hats and a banner that they marched in front of, when the warehouse was surrounded. 2:05pm - A search warrant is not needed to enter an 'open area' and look around, so the first thing that happened was an officer tried to bum-rush the door when we opened it to see what was going on. The door was closed, but through the windows we could see we were surrounded on all sides. There were even officers on our roof. They said they did not yet have a search warrant "but we're getting one right now." For the next three hours they told us that a warrant was on its way. Inside, we tried to decide what to do. We were willing to have them search the space, but wanted freedom to leave - and hopefully to be able to take our painted cardboard with us. The officers were not negotiating. We called our media and legal team and soon had live TV coverage and a legal observer on the scene. 5:00pm - Chainsaws started up outside. We were told that just as soon as the warrant arrived, they would going to cut through our doors. They told us if we left we would be "detained" - not arrested - until the warrant was served. In order to keep the initiative on our side and minimize the risk of armed police forcing their way into us, we opened the doors and gave ourselves up one by one. "Detaining" 70-plus people takes quite a bit of time, so some of us were able to unload some of our puppets and give a quick show for the media through the open garage door before we had to leave. Everyone in the building including the owner and legal observers, were taken into custody. They took our bags, headwear, and everything in our pockets, snapped polaroids of us, cuffed our hands behind our backs, and loaded us onto maximum security transports - school buses with the windows bolted open 1/2" and steel grilles over everything. I was still wearing my clown face paint in my polaroid. 6:00pm - The last puppetistas boarded the bus and the buses left. No one told us where they were taking us or what was happening. We were just being "temporarily detained," we thought. No one said what the police thought we had in the warehouse. "Weapons" the original warrant request apparently said, but even the judge didn't believe that. "Implements of crime" we heard the warrant had been changed to, but no one actually saw a warrant (not even the owner of the space!) According to the NY Times (Sat Aug 5 article by Francis X. Clines) the warrant's contents have now been sealed at the request of the city prosecutors. Nobody knows. 6:30pm - We arrive at the "Roundhouse" at 7th and Race. The temperature inside our bus is now over 100 degrees. Demands to know why/where we are being taken and for water go unanswered. We are sweating rivers. At some point we begin moving again. No explanation. 7:05pm - We arrive at Holmsburg prison. A head count is made. Still no water. We discuss non-violent non-cooperation (going limp) if attempts are made to remove us from the bus until our questions are answered. 7:50pm - The bus leaves Holmsburg prison and we retrace our drive to the Roundhouse. Still no water, no lawyer, still no answers. For all we know, we are still just being "detained." My clothing is soaked with sweat. A heavy-set brother, SLIM, starts fading: his head falls, his eyes roll back, he is having trouble sitting up. We start yelling for a medic, and are ignored. 8:05pm - SLIM loses consciousness. We are still demanding medical attention and are ignored. The bus does not slow or stop. We arrive at the Roundhouse, and are told that "nothing can be done until the Fire Rescue squad arrives." We plead for SLIM to be taken out of the scorching bus, at least, and/or to be give water. They refuse. 8:15pm - A white-shirted official - presumably a medic of some kind arrives, but does not enter the bus. Our untrained bus driver is sent to fetch SLIM out, which he attempts to do by brute force, pulling harder at SLIM's handcuffed arms when he immediately gets wedged in the aisle. SLIM is not a small fellow. JOYFUL (and others) scream at the driver to stop tugging at him and attempt to gently extract SLIM. JOYFUL is assaulted by the driver for her efforts. SLIM is dragged out of the bus and laid on the ground still cuffed. We lose sight of SLIM as he is separated from the group and hauled away. Our requests that one of us accompany him are ignored. We still have no water. SLIM's symptoms were indicative of dehydration, heat exhaustion, and shock and we knew the same was waiting for us. 9:30pm - We finally receive water: One 500 ml bottle to split between all 31 remaining of us. This is the drivers' personal water, he tells us. He's doing this as a favor. 9:50 pm - After we chant "WATER, WATER" or 20 minutes, we are given a total of 128 oz of water, 4 32 oz bottles. This is about 4 oz a person. Around this time someone finally informs us we've been arrested. We're not told out charges, and have never been read our rights. 11pm - It starts to rain around 11:00. We're so thirsty we try to drink the water dripping from the roof by collecting it in our hands and letting it run down our arms. Only those who have been able to bring their hands around to the front by passing them under them and putting their legs through are able to do this. The rest of us lap at the water dripping from their elbows. Wednesday August 2nd 12:57 AM I am finally let off the bus. About a dozen men are still waiting behind me. We are taken through a garage, where RABBIT and bout 70 others are sitting, still handcuffed and awaiting processing. I and the others on my bus are taken right in. Our shoes, belts and everything in our pockets were taken and bagged. Our cuffs were then cut and we were frisked. When frisked, I was asked why I was soaking wet. Being locked up in a 100% bus for 7 hours will do that to you. The officers were convinced I was holding stuff in my boots, which of course I was not. Another polaroid was taken while I was still in clown makeup and we were asked our names. About 80% of us exercised our 5th amendment right to remain silent. We were labeled John or Jane Doe. I was John Doe #203. We were then taken to holding cells downstairs. by 2 AM I was in a 6'x7' cell with 5 other people: NATHAN, ACRO, PORKCHOP, SLIM and LARRY. We would remain here for 33 hours attempting to sleep on concrete. The cell had a metal shelf and a toilet in the center. Nothing soft. The floor and walls were coated with dried feces. I was wearing two shirts. ; I gave one to a protester brought in without one. By our numbering system I was put in Cell Block 3, cell E. By the guards' system, this was A2. We soon worked out a way to run meetings and reach consensus within our cell block, and to communicate to the cell block directly behind ours. There were tow cell blocks of men, all packed 6 to a cell , 14 cells to a block. There was also a cell block of women and more females in a holding area originally meant for those waiting for bail. There were even more protesters being held elsewhere. We reached consensus that we would resist being fingerprinted or separated. Protesters discarded their ID bracelets, jammed the cell doors locks, and switched shirts to confound identification. We demanded to see our lawyers, but were not allowed. Given only cheese sandwiches and Wawa Lemon Ice Tea ("contains 0% juice") to drink. No allowance was made for vegans. Some short hunger strikes. 8:30 PM I am finally fingerprinted, after hiding twice. In solidarity, I move as slowly as possible. Grease paint from my clown face is on my hands, which smears the machine. I am told to wash my hands, which I do meticulously, with careful attention to each digit and wrinkle. Drying takes as long. When I look up, I see female sisters in the holding tank cheering for me. I am also photographed again, still wearing my clown makeup. I am brought back to cell 3E. We start to formulate a list of demands, and non-co-operation until they are met. by 11:15 PM RABBIT, TENESSEE, BUCKY and WOLFMAN are cuffed opposite hand to foot as punishment for not voluntarily going to be fingerprinted. They are left in their cells cuffed. They can't stand up and lying down is extremely uncomfortable. It is late night. 11:35 PM Cellblock starts chanting "MEDIC" after BUCKY's hands turn blue. 11:40 PM Badge 113 examines BUCKY and refuses to help him. We continue chanting. 11:49 PM BUCKY's cuffs are cut. RABBIT< TENNESSEE and WOLFMAN are still cuffed. We chant "TAKE OFF THE CUFFS!" THURSDAY AUGUST 3 12:02 AM Corporal Sculley glances at WOLFMAN's hands and proclaims them a "nice shade of pink". We demand a medic. Sculley claims to be one. (He is obviously not) 12:03 AM After our chanting escalates, Officer Cassady (badge 1976) uncuffs Wolfman (not gently). 1:10 AM A heavy, white haired diabetic is dragged in from fingerprinting, cuffed hand to foot like the rest. He was uncuffed only when the cell block begins chanting at full volume. 1:15 AM RABBIT's cuffs are finally cut. His wrist is bleeding slightly. He's been cuffed hand to foot in his cell for over 2 hours. TENESSEE is also out by now. 2 AM We find out that the women's leaders are being taken away and isolated. In my 6-person cell, 3 of us finally manage to urinate in the close company, after 30 hours of incarceration. No one has yet managed to defecate since the 6 of us must sit knee to knee in the cell. There is no privacy. We have still not seen our lawyer. 3 AM A public defender- not our R2K lawyers- is finally let in to the Roundhouse. 5 AM He gets to our cell block. The defender is not familiar with jail solidarity and cannot give advice. He just lectures morosely on maximum penalties. Our feeling is that he is not on our side. 6:20 AM JOE HILL is cuffed hand to foot for not voluntarily giving his fingerprints. 6:55 AM JOE HILL is finally uncuffed. 9:00 AM Eleven from our cell block are dragged from our cells, chained together and marched off. We would meet them again later in CFCF. 9:15 AM Water in our cell blocks is turned off. Not even the toilet works. An officer tells my cell: "There's water in the toilet. Drink that!" 9:30 AM I am taken out of my cell and stood against ther wall to wait for arraignment. While I am waiting, Officer Cassady (Badge 1976) drags WOLFMAN's face through the gutter and then slams it into the cell bars for moving to slowly. WOLF later shoed the abrasion on his right shoulder this caused. GOD is also slammed into the bars by 1976. 9:50 AM While I'm, standing there, all water is finally turned back on after 35 minutes of chanting. VELVEETA and other Puppetistas are waiting with me. 11 AM I am finally taken in to my arraignment, where I hear my charges for the first time. They are all misdemeanors but include charges like "Obstructing a highway" which give the conditions and place of arrest I am obviously innocent of. The paper work is mixed up, I am told: the folks arrested at the puppet warehouse (4100 Haverford) and those arrested at the on ramp to 676 at 8th street - clear across town - have been lumped together and all given the same charges. I am sent back to thje holding cell while the DA and my public defender(our R2K lawyers still had not been allowed to see or represent us) sorted things out. 11:20AM I am called back in, and read the "amended" charges, which are exactly the same. The DA asks if I wish to give my name. I again exercise my right not to incriminate myself. I am given $50,000 bail. My defender appeals for $25,000 but is dismissed. 11:40 AM I am brought back downstairs, but put in a different cell: 5 of cellblock 3. 12:30 PM We take a roll call:42 of us , one in solitary. After arraignment, some, but not all of us are allowed phone calls to raise bail. WOLFMAN was never given his phone call. We finalize our demands as a chant: 1. NO CHARGES 2. NO NAMES 3. NO ISOLATION 4. NO RETURN DATE Between 12:30 and 3 PM Jules Espstein from R2K legal finally is allowed to visit the cell blocks. He says that everyone who gives theior name is being released on their own recognizance. He doesn't know that non-Philly folks who give their names are still getting 5k-10k bails. 3 PM In cell 5 with me by this point are WOLFMAN, WISP, BUCKSHOT, RABBIT and ODB. 3:40 PM >From the next cell block (our "2" their "B") we hear chants of "POLICE BRUTALITY". One cell has locked arms to prevent themselves from being taken for fingerprinting. The guards beat them with fists while trying to separate them. Around 6PM Eleven of us are chained together and taken to CFCF (the Curran Fromhold Correctional Facility). The guards try to convince us we are being put in with murderers and rapists. 7:30 PM We (SWITCHBLADE, WISP, TENNESEE, BUSTER, JERRY LOVE, FLEA, RABBIT, WOLFMAN and GOD) enter CFCF. We talk to Morty, who was taken in when officers searched his home, who reassures us. WOLFMAN still hasn't had an opportunity to make a phone call. We enter medical quarantine. We are given prison clothes and allowed to take a shower., which feels wonderful after our experience at the Roundhouse. Our prison garb is a bright orange jumpsuit. We are not given underwear or socks, so we must continue wearing what we have which after the roundhouse is filthy. We move from room to room as we are processed. We are given wristbands with our photo and barcode. My photo has me in clown makeup. FRIDAY AUGUST 4 3:40 AM I make it as far as my TB and syphilis check in medical. I expect to flinch as they draw blood, but after everything that has happened to me, the needle is not a concern. 4:00 Am My group of 11 enters Pod B2. I am placed in cell 30 with RABBIT. All cells are 2 person. 8:30AM We are woken for breakfast. I remain on the fast I have been on since Wednesday. 11:10 AM RABBIT is asleep. I defecate for the first time in another's company (and for the first time since Tuesday). Still no privacy, but at least it's just one other person here. 11:30 AM Wardens call a meeting, explaining that our anonymity is interfering with our families' efforts to bail us out. We know this; we want to stay here in solidarity with our brothers. 3PM According to R2K, of 420 arrests, only 60 people have accepted release or been escorted out of jails without consent. SATURDAY, AUGUST 5 12:25AM WOKEN AND TAKEN FOR A PHYSICAL WITH WOLFMAN, BUCKSHOT and GOD. 8:30 AM breakfast:2% skim milk, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, apple sauce and corn flakes. I continue my fast. 11:40 AM 15 of us (including me) talk to three folk from the public defender's office. We learn that the state can hold us for up to 120 days without a trial. There were 100-150 people brought to CFCF; only 16 were charged with felonies (mostly aggravated assault). I get a chance to talk to one of these, NEIL, and will send his story out as soon as I write it down. We release a statement with 2 real names and at least 15 John Doe signatures. 2PM Went to see the prison social worker. According to her computer, my bail is $25,000 and my charges are: 1. CC0907 M1 Possessing an instrument of crime 2. CC5101 M2 Obstructing Administration of Law or Government Function 3. CC5101 M2 Obstructing Administration of Law or Government Function 4. CC5507 M3 Obstructing Highway and other public passage 5. CC5507 M3 Obstructing Highway and other public passage 6. CC2705 M2 Recklessly Endangering 7. CC2705 M2 Recklessly Endangering 8. CC5503 M3 Disorderly Conduct 9. CC5503 M3 Disorderly Conduct I apparently have a crash court date at 11AM on August 11, 2000. These charges are different from those read to me at my arraignment; for one thing at my arraignment, all charges were paired with a "conspiracy to" charge. >From the circumstances of my arrest (in warehouse, voluntarily gave myself up) it is obvious that charges 2-5 are completely bogus. Similarly for charge 1: I can assure you that nothing even faintly resembling an "instrument of crime" was found on my person. It is hard to see how any of the actions were considered "Reckless Endangerment" or "Disorderly Conduct" considering we never left the warehouse and quite orderly were detained. Most others I have talked to have similarly trumped up charges. I don't know why the social worker's computer showed my bail at $25,000 instead of $50,000 but even the lower amount, $760 would be non-refundable EVEN IF I SHOW UP AT MY COURT DATE AND AM FOUND INNOCENT. The presumption of innocence is a myth. It is now 10:50PM, Saturday August 5th. I am Flea. Flea, Prisoner 907835If you think that the above example is just a fluke, not part of a well-organized pattern, read this dispatch. It's really unsettling - and is reminiscent of the Germany of pre-World War II. But it didn't happen in Nazi Germany, it happened here in the United States, ironically enough, on tax day:
http://www.indymedia.org/display.php3?article_id=34453 Police attack party and target "anarchists" in Portland, Oregon by walidah imarisha 11:05am Sun Apr 15 '01 address: 818 SW 3rd Ave PMB 354, Portland OR 97204 phone: 503) 236-3065 email@example.com *Two people are facing felony charges on a police raid on a punk show after party in Portland, Oregon, which many see as profiling of so-called "anarchists." At the same time, a Latino man is shot and killed by Portland Police, and the Mexican consulate is demading an investigation.* On March 30 in the early morning, police attacked a Portland, Oregon house party, escalating the targeting of so-called "anarchists," at the same time, perpetrating incidents in communities of color that many have seen as a continuation of the domination of those communities. The party was filled with people dressed in black, "metal heads" and "crusty gutter punks." Some are active in anti-authoritarian actions. Two police cars showed up around one am, supposedly responding to a noise complaint. The police began pepper spraying people and using compliance holds on them. Within minutes, 43 squad cars and an empty public transportation bus were on the scene to cart away people. Dozens of people were detained, at least nine of them were taken to a detox center, where they were refused Breathalyzer tests when they tried to insist they were not drunk. Three people, one of them local activist Chad Hapshe, were arrested and charged with Assault and Kidnapping, which is a mandatory minimum charge. The charge of Riot was later added. One of the people was released, but Chad and the other individual have been indicted on kidnapping and the other charges, and the state is continuing with prosecution. If convicted, they will have to serve out all of the seven year sentence. The Portland community responded the next day to the attacks. Meeting with over 100 people have discussed how to stop the police harassment that has been heightened. Money is needed for the three defendants for legal defense and general direct support work, such as canteen money. You can send support and write for more information to the March 30 Fund, 818 SW 3rd Ave PMB 354, Portland, OR 97204. Make checks payable to G. Grantham. You can also get information from Portland Copwatch at (503) 236-3065 or firstname.lastname@example.org. One of the defendants told a reporter he was beaten by police while handcuffed. When denied use of a bathroom, he urinated on his cell floor and was attacked shortly afterwards. Other party attendees have stated that one person was thrown to the ground and kneed when he urged people to get badge numbers and names of the police arresting them. People say that while police where pepper-spraying and using compliance holds on individuals at the show, they were also questioning people about their political beliefs, and taking photographs of their tattoos. Anyone refusing to be photographed was physically forced by officers. And at the arraignment, anyone who looked mildly "anarchist" was photographed by police. One supporter was ticketed for jay walking as she left the arraignment. She was detained by two plain-clothes cops, one of whom had minutes before claimed to be off-duty. When the crowd approached them, they called for backup, bringing five more uniformed cops, including a Lieutenant. A crowd formed, including some Copwatch people, and the officers let her go. It is not just politically active people or anarchists being targeted, it is anyone who fits into the police profile of what an "anarchist" is: punk, patches, white kid dreadlocks, etc., the same image they have been portraying since the WTO. Portland has a Joint Terrorism Task Force (PJTTF), which allows police and FBI to share information and work basically as one unit. There are, in fact, 19 other cities around the country with similar task forces. These task forces are indicative of planning and responding to movements, rather than "terrorism." While it has not been proven that PJTTF agents were involved in the March 30 incident, there has been an escalation of police activity in the city since its inception. Last year police attacked a May Day parade, and they say they are preparing for this upcoming May Day. Local news media have been calling it "a season of unrest." This attack March 30 has been seen by some Portland activists as a pre-emptive strike by the police. At the same time in Portland, incidents with police brutality within communities of color were escalating. On April 1st, a resident worker from Mexico was shot and killed by Portland police officers at a psychiatric hospital. Jose Mejia Poot had been arrested on March 30 when he was 20 cents short for bus fare. Eyewitnesses state that Mejia, who experienced epileptic seizures, was beaten by five officers at the scene, arrested and taken to the downtown jail. One bystander told a reporter it "looked like Rodney King." Mejia was released from the jail after an hour, then taken to a local for-profit psychiatric hospital. There he was shot by a Portland cop in the head and chest after allegedly threatening staff with pencils, and later a metal bar. No Spanish-speaking staff or police were present at the time. Mejia’s family, whose calls for a full investigation are backed by the Mexican consulate, state he spoke on Spanish and Mayan.
It's not just Portland, either. Here's a dispatch from Los Angeles at the Democratic Convention. This one is from a journalist, working for the Independent Media Center:
The LAPD Witch Hunt for "Anarchists" by Edison Carter / Network 23 9:46pm Thu Aug 17 '00 An account of a "mere traffic stop" last Sunday which also reveals the true nature of the LAPD, their perceived mission, and apparent priorities. Two young male IMC videojournalists left Patriotic Hall (IMC HQ) at 2:30a Sunday night, after their 2nd day of field reporting on their first gig. One (myself) dressed in black fatigues w/ a black equipment vest decorated front and back with IMC and other journalism-related badges and an IMC press pass. The other, ordinary khaki pants and a black denim jacket - also plainly wearing IMC and other media-related badges front and back. One camcorder, 1 digital camera, 2 film cameras, a microphone, a tape recorder, pocket radios, and countless microphones, cables, and other A/V gear was either in their hands or hanging like Christmas baubles. The message was clear - journalism without a budget. They walked 2 blocks down the well-lit main drag, to their gold 2000 Chevy Cavalier rental where the back seat showed airline luggage, a sleeping bag, and plastic grocery bags of instant soup and snack bars. Hardly the "profile" of a window-smashing anarchy-mobile. They were tired but not extremely so. The drvier signaled, pulled out into an empty lane, waited for the traffic light, and otherwise proceeded in a very sane and simple (read: paranoid) manner around the corner and calmly out of town. Their destination was Culver City some 15 miles away, with the promise of couch and floor space courtesy of a friend. On the highway approaching Culver City, a police car raced by them. No emergency lights, just the same ol' illegal speednig for which police are notorious. Behind, a row of headlights seemed to have gathered like a wave front - perhaps fearful of another law enforcement vehicle traveling at legal speed at their front. Remembering the name "Robertson Blvd" at the last reasonable moment, the driver flicked the signal darted over to the offramp. Not a problem, until 10 seconds later when the intersection was lit up by familiar red-and-blue lights. With a sigh, the driver uttered "What the..? Great, I just got pulled over. Guess some jerk didn't like that lane change." With jaywalking, spitting, and every other trivial offense being enforced around the Democratic National Convention as if the town hadn't seen a real crime in 50 years, it was no surprise. A small traffic ticket, a small delay, and they'd be on their way home regardless. It was just gradeschool-like harrassment by one of the henchmen for the local robber-baron-in-blue. A spotlight was on them. A PA system shouted "Driver! Get out of the car now!" A bit heavy-handed, I thought. It was just the beginning. We were ordered, individually, to the sidewalk on our knees with hands on our heads. We were also ordered to face away from our own vehicle. The next hour and a half is a jumbled haze of hostile questions, barked orders, and lots of hurry-up-and-wait. I saw my friend immediately placed in metal handcuffs behind his back, though we had not been - and never were - arrested, nor read any rights. The cuffs were removed some 5-10 minutes later. We were asked a variety of questions - not politely, as inquiries, but in the tone of demands with punishment waiting for the uncooperative. Name, address, social security number, origin, destination, place of employment, criminal history, purpose of our presence in the area, contents of our vehicle. Contrary to my routine, I chose not to attempt educating these gestapo on the inappropriateness of these questions given our status as free citizens in a free country. I even, for the first time in I don't know how many years, cooperated and answered everything. I was worried - the witch hunt was obviously on, and we feared the same punitive detainment and sham arrests that have been used to intimidate and silence so many others involved in any way with protests like the D2KLA (even when that involvement runs only as deep as independent journalism.) I didn't want to miss out on the protests as another victim of police corruption, and worse - I didn't want to see my friend / partner whose help I had enlisted for this trip (and who feared losing an upcoming job opportunity if detained past Thursday) suffer the same because I had pricked some prick's testosterone-pumped ego. Then the questions went from inappropriate to downright amazing. "Do you have any bomb-making instructions in the car?" "Have you given any packages to anyone?" And the best, straight out of a Cold War spy novel - "Have you been distributing any literature?" Welcome to a world where *the distribution of literature* is now somehow an issue worthy of investigation by our so-called "law enforcement". I rather doubt he would have asked this astounding question on camera, or otherwise in front of witnesses. At 2:30a in Culver City, the only other person on the street was a lone jogger who wanted no trouble. Some six cop cars were around us in little time. The body count kept rising, 13+ cops at one point. I demanded the cause for our detention, but grunts only deferred to their supervisor "who will speak with you when he's done" and whom insisted that the detention was necessary "to determine if a crime has been committed." We spent an hour and a half on that sidewalk, ordered not to move, ordered to keep our hands on our heads at one point and then ordered to keep them behind our backs at another. Each cop had his own favorite flavor of Simon Says. Twice I was "asked" something like "Do you mind if we search your car?" in that typical cop manner with him already walking towards the passenger door without making eye contact. You're not supposed to react to it like it's a request for permission, you're supposed to "consent" like you have no choice. I refused both times. The response was always "Why not, what are you hiding?" and "Well we're going to search it anyway." They never did, though they peered in windows with flashlights as much as they could. Cops got bored, got snacks from their cars, traded places. It became a blur of faces, names, and badge numbers which I could not keep track of. Bits of information trickled out in stunted conversation. Supposedly, a 911 call had been placed to warn police of "dangerous-looking people on foot and getting into a car". An undercover unit had been following us from as early as 3 blocks from IMC HQ (and it was only a 2-block walk to the car), and later gave the "testimony" which lead to the infraction ticket issued. An "unsafe lane change" right aronud the corner from IMC HQ. The undercover had been following us from *at the very latest* 2 blocks from IMC HQ, all the way to Culver City 15 miles away. When was the last time a cop followed you for 5 blocks into a freeway and then 15 miles to another city and waited for you to pull off into an unpopulated area, just to issue you a traffic ticket? At one point my cellphone rang. I assumed it to be my friend, wondering why we hadn't shown up yet after having called right before leaving IMC and giving an ETA of 30 minutes. Only one cop watched us anymore, while the others all sat around in conference some distance away for the last hour. I asked "Can I at least answer my phone?" He shrugged and said sure. But it had switched to voicemail already, so I returned the call instead. My friend picked up her phone at 3:30a, only to hear a few quick shouts of "You can't do that! Put that away now!" from a female officer over in the conferring group who immediately marched towards me. I repeat, we'd been long-since patted down for weapons, and all the cops here had relaxed long ago and became a part of the waiting game with one standing idly by to guard us. They weren't in that take-em-down mode anymore, we were all just waiting and waiting. I'm pretty sure this refusal of phone access - my own cellphone already in my possession - during a mere detainment when safety was no longer an issue, was just as illegal as my friend having been briefly handcuffed. Eventually, the lofty Sueprvisor arrived and an explanation was finally given - more accusation and diversion than appology. Due to our "affiliations", he said, it was necessary for this entire 90 minute shake-down to occur "to protect the safety of officers from dangerous weapons that might be in your possession". I asked him for his probable cause: the answer? "Your affiliations make the probability of weapons.." began his answer. I asked flat out, "What affiliations?" He refused to answer, instead repeating his answer to the previous question. I pressed again, and again, and finally heard that new word for evil upon the land: "well, the anarchists". We have met no one in Black Block. We've participated in no protests. This was our first event, and we came down to join IMC (and had done so right away.) We spent all of our time until then either at IMC HQ setting up gear, or out in the field interviewing. Walking in plain sight, openly carrying copious amounts of journalism gear, wearing journalism identification high and clear for all to see. In essence, we were waving as many "Dont shoot me, Im just a journalist!" flags as we could. Once allowed to sign the ticket book and told we were "free" to leave, I asked the supervisor for a list of names and badge numbers of every officer involved. He agreed - being a supervisor (from "tactical", no less!) his speaking skills were stellar compared to the knuckle-draggers in his command. And then began even more delays. Tired to the point of being ready to sleep right there on the concrete, and stunned from the extremity of all we'd just been subjected to, we just drove. We chose not to continue waiting for the information requested (and honestly, we half-forget out of sheer exhaustion and fear.) All that was left was a ticket for an unsafe lane change that had occured 15 miles away in front of an undercover car that was somehow on our ass within 3 blocks of our departure. Our evaluation of this incident was immediate and clear. "This is way too much heat", we both said. "WAAAAAY too much heat." We'd crossed every 't' and dotted every 'i' ever since we crossed the county line Saturday night, and STILL this happened to us. We changed our plans, packed, and left town. We drove through sunrise, for 4 hours, to his place. I slept on his floor, and planned to continue home that evening - Monday evening, 1 and 1/2 days after arriving for the DNC and 4 days earlier than I'd originally planned to return. I woke up within a short number of hours, despite the lack of sleep we'd suffered. I couldn't sleep. I was pissed. And I woke up to my friend's large movie-size poster. The screaming head from Pink Floyd's "The Wall". I re-packed, turned around, drove straight back to IMC HQ here in LA, and resumed my position as an IMC volunteer videojournalist. To the 13+ officers who detained us in this manner for 90 minutes Sunday night, to all the LAPD, LA LA County Sherrifs, California Highway Patrol, and to law enforcement agents everywhere who are involved in this absurd, extremist witch hunt for "anarchists".. to all of you who see fit to abuse your power and harrass, intimidate, and terrorize innocent people and political dissidents into silence with your bullshit charges, your bogus arrests, your FAKE "anonymous tips" about bomb threats against the IMC, and all the other terror tactics YOU YOURSELVES ARE USING AGAINST INNOCENT POLITICAL DISSIDENTS AND MEMBERS OF THE INDEPENDENT MEDIA.. WATCH YOUR BACKS. Because from now on, I'll be watching them too. See you next time, motherfuckers. The camcorder is mighter than the sword. - -Vangelis Dempsey, aka Edison Carter / Network 23 Newly-sworn lifelong video-journalist for the Indepdent Media Center *because of corrupt assholes like you!*Whew! That author makes his love of the L.A.P.D. clear in no uncertain terms, doesn't he?
As evidence that it's not just a one-off situtation, but a continuing pattern, here's a sworn affidavit from a lawyer received on 10/26/00. It's a case where the L.A.P.D. simply ignored a demonstration permit (ironically, to protest police brutality) that the city had issued and charged in and brutally assualted the demonstrators, in clear violation of the Bill of Rights and the laws of the City of Los Angeles:
Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2000 12:11:56 -0700 To: Democratic EndsAnd while we're on Los Angeles, here's a dispatch from the Change Links email list, detailing what the Los Angeles Unified School District is doing in public schools in Los Angeles. Would you want to go to school at a place like this?
From: Louisa Simpson & Dave Fertig DECLARATION OF DAVID R. FERTIG I, David R. Fertig hereby declare as follows: 1. I have personal knowledge of the facts stated herein, and if called as a witness I could competently testify thereto. 2. I am an attorney licensed to practice in the courts of the state of California, as well as the Central District of the U.S. District Court. I was admitted to the practice of law in December, 1987. 3. On October 22, 2000 I attended the demonstration sponsored by the October 22 Coalition Against Police Brutality. As the march started approximately 1:45 p.m. from Broadway Ave. Olympic Boulevard, I was behind the sound truck toward the front of the procession. Ahead I could see the dancers and in front of them the police on bicycles. It appeared we were repeated being slowed or stopped by the police escort. The march was peaceful and loud, spirited and orderly. 4. Earlier, I had reviewed the demonstration permit (which I understand later was expanded to allow circling Parker Center, but notice was received too late to the organizers and never was given to the Police.) It clearly delineated the area we were allowed to set up in, the block of Los Angeles Street in front of Parker Center, and the time, beginning at 1:00 p.m. The stage truck was to be set up right in the crosswalk, in front of the walkway to the Parker Center main entrance. At approximately 12:30, while the truck had already been put into place, I and a couple others standing near the truck were approached by a man identifying himself as Detective Heatherington, stating he was the watch commander (I presume of Parker Center.) His tone of speaking was highly tensed, very measured and trembling. Without a break in his words he hurriedly stated that the truck had to move, as it was crossing the crosswalk, and that if it wasn't moved within ten minutes he would call a tow truck in to haul it away. I indicated it was permitted, showed him the permit, and he indicated it was not to be in a cross walk, and he walked away. I called after Detective Heatherington to discuss it, but he ignored me and walked into another building. Of course we moved the truck to temporarily clear the cross-walk. His peremptory and highly tensed manner was quite striking, and boded for a confrontational afternoon. 5. As of 1:15 p.m., the street had not yet been blocked off. At that time the truck was returned to the cross-walk location without further incident. 6. Once we (the marchers) arrived at the area in front of Parker Center, marchers were exhorted to surround the station, asserting that permission to do so had in fact been secured. Once this encircling was announced as having been finally accomplished, I went to see it. As I walked past the phalanx of police facing Los Angeles St. in front of the Parker Center, I was again struck by the level of fear, anger, or tension that exuded from each tautly poised and heavily equipped police officer, holding their batons and guns (with so-called non-lethal projectiles as ammo) uniformly in an apparent attempt to appear menacing. However, the cops' fear was palpable. 7. I strode south along the block of Los Angeles Street north of First St. There were no demonstrators along this stretch of the block, and the sidewalk was fronted by tall plywood walls enclosing the space behind. On a stretch was remains of an old and tattered LAPD recruitment poster, with some new tatters to it. As I turned the corner on First Street, looking East, I saw people along the sidewalk and in the street. Several dozen police (all police I saw, except for Detective Heatherington, were in riot gear) had lined up east of the group of approximately 150 demonstrators. I heard some popping noises and saw several dozen demonstrators, about 40 or so, running frantically up (West) on First St. away from the police. Police were standing in the middle of the street firing into the fleeing crowd, and at a few protesters who were not fleeing, but standing still. As people stood not twenty feet away from the police, doing nothing but speaking loudly, police leveled their weapons and fired directly at them and all around them, randomly hitting any and all in the area with the rubber pellets, round cylindrical shot and swinging their clubs at who ever they could reach, regardless of whether the victims were violating any law. I heard no orders to disperse, just police gun fire and the yelling of demonstrators. 8. I was standing along the sidewalk watching, and a column of police started walking up towards me, ordering me and several others standing peacefully alongside me to "move along." Before we could even react, let alone turn around, the police repeatedly pushed their batons violently into our ribs and stomachs, while yelling at us to move along. Even as I finally turned and started walking up the hill (West on First St. back towards Los Angeles St.) the same police needlessly and mean-spiritedly stabbed their batons into our backs "hurrying us along." I asked the officer who was hitting me with his baton to identify himself, he refused. None of the police at any time wore any indicia as to their identity, name or number, except a patch indicating they were L.A.P.D. 9. Meanwhile, the broad line of police marched west up First St. firing into the retreating crowd. I saw many of the police laughing and smiling as they advanced, scattering the protesters with the firing of their guns and swinging of their sticks. 10. When I reached the corner of Los Angeles and First, I walked to just inside the crosswalk lines defining the border of the block I knew we had reserved by the permit I had seen for the demonstration. At this point I sat down, facing the oncoming phalanx. The police kept coming, now formed in a broad line two deep, batons and ("non-lethal") guns drawn and pointed at us. A few people, maybe five or so, also sat down in the cross-walk, the rest scrambled back towards the stage area in front of Parker Center. The Police kept coming, and thus far not one word had been announced by the Police as to why they were advancing, whether or why we were to move, etc. 11. For a moment, the police stopped at our line, then advanced. One officer walked right up to me, and ordered me to move. I said, "No, we are staying, we have a permit!" He said, "you have a permit to demonstrate!" I said "I am demonstrating!" He said, "No, sitting is not demonstrating! Move or you will be arrested!" I was dumbfounded. 12. As I had no intent or desire to be arrested that day, due to certain professional obligations, I rose and slowly walked back towards the stage. Within a few seconds I heard the repeated "pop-pop-pop" of renewed police gunfire, felt the pellets stinging hit on my legs and rear and the percussion of projectiles hitting my day-pack on my back. Pellets were whizzing by my head, hitting leaves in the trees and hitting the people all around. Police were chasing people and reaching out to hit them with batons, even those who were trying to get out of their way and those who were merely standing peacefully still. The police continued their charge hitting whatever their batons could reach and firing into the crowd. People were again running and yelling, some of us again sat down about twenty feet in front of the advancing police and formed a line. 13. At this point, a row of horse-borne police in riot gear rode up and stopped right in front of us. Within a few seconds, and again without warning or any words at all, the "cavalry" advanced. Behind them were more Police advancing with wrist-straps, used instead of hand-cuffs. The two mounted police that were right in front of me steered together over my head so their horses' rear feet clopping right toward me had nowhere else to go but in my lap. Thus I started to stand up between the horse. At this point the officer to my left directed his horse against me, squeezing me between the horses. As I pushed the horses' bellies apart to get room to stand up, the policeman mounted on the horse to my right started to swing at me with his long baton, a 4-foot hardwood sword. He was too close to his partner to get a full swing, and when the horses finally moved away he took a short swing at my neck which I stopped by catching the baton in the palm of my left hand. I pushed it back at him and stepped back another ten feet and sat again along with some others. 14. This time there was no more room to back up, really, so the police held their line, we held ours, and the demonstration continued. 15. During this melee I saw Ralph Cole assaulted by a number of police. I had observed Ralph Cole videotaping the events, and when I saw him being beaten he was not near any horses, but rather in the median strip down Los Angeles St. in front Parker Center. While Cole was being grabbed, hit and thrown around by police, other officers were going out of their way to reach in and hit him with their sticks as well. 16. I did see a couple of instances in which objects where lobbed towards police, I did not see by whom. Yet in each instance the object fell harmlessly to the ground in front of the police. In another instance an empty trash can was rolled harmlessly into the police' path. Nonetheless, the response in each case was another volley of gunfire directed randomly into whatever crowd was within range, without any apparent regard to the direction from which any object may have been thrown, or by whom. 17. It struck me as significant that the police were individually unidentifiable, acted without giving warning or any notice of their intent to advance and assault passive protesters, and used dangerous, if not lethal, force against people who were not violating any law, order nor even acting discourteously. Most significant however was the spirit with which the police acted: Absolutely terrified and thus brutal; undiscriminating and unhesitating in their application of force. 18. The assertion that the toll was minor is dead wrong: while only a few were arrested and perhaps less than thirty demonstrators required medical assistance (broken bones, gashes, etc.) the damage to those people individually is not to be dismissed. Furthermore, by accepting this "police riot" we give permission to the literal trampling of people and their rights to demonstrate. I am certain that unless measures are taken to encourage the police to observe simple elements of decency and process, increasingly less restraint shall be used in the future, causing serious harm physically, socially and constitutionally. And costing the taxpayers lots of money. 19. I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the state of California and the United States of America that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed at Altadena, California this twenty-fourth day of October, 2000. David R. Fertig
Ami Motevalli, 32, doesn’t consider herself an organizer or a radical. She’s an artist. When she became an educator at Locke High School 2 years ago, she was eager to take on the challenge of being the first permanent art teacher there in ten years, bringing creativity to the classroom and getting various artistic programs up and running. But, she soon discovered that instead of getting an education, the students at Locke were facing heavy repression. So, she accepted when her students asked her to be an advisor for the Locke Student Union, a group formed to protest the verbal and physical abuse they face from administration and police, and the illegal searches for weapons, in which police frisk students with metal detectors, open backpacks and seize cell phones, pagers and cd players. These searches, which serve to create a climate of control on campus, happen everyday at Locke, inside and outside of classes, violating the students’ right to privacy, which is theoretically protected under the Fourth Amendment. Ms. Motevalli, refusing to be another brick in the wall, educated her students on their rights. She didn’t allow the search teams into her classroom and became very vocal, along with her students, in speaking out against the searches. As a result, she received an unsatisfactory evaluation, a suspension and finally, was fired. However, Ami, like her students, is still fighting back. At the end of June, six students along with the ACLU filed a suit in the federal courts against the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and Locke High, citing the searches as unlawful. Ami filed her own suit shortly afterward, which echoes civil liberties concerns and also demands her job back. Recently, I caught up with Ami to find out more about the repression and resistance at Locke. Locke High School is located in Southeast Los Angeles on the border of Watts. A high chain-link fence surrounds the light blue building. It looks like a small prison. For students, it feels like one too. There’s a police interrogation room on-site, known as the pig-pen. The third floor of the school is under constant surveillance by 27 cameras, and more cameras will be installed on other floors soon. The youth here are terrorized for being who and what they are - young people of color from this part of town. Everyday Locke students face the tense reality of encounters with administration, security, school police and - although illegal for them to patrol the campus - the LAPD and sheriffs. This is gang turf, so, while the threat of violence from other students is real, the worst violence comes from the authorities. It’s even in the yearbook. On the page of “Good Things and Bad Things at Locke” there’s a picture of a kid face down on the asphalt getting handcuffed. People get maced by police often. Female students are verbally and physically harassed by male officers. “It happens all the time.” Ami tells me. “A kid will be walking down the hall, a cop will grab them, throw them up against the wall, handcuff them. Everyday there’s a student bloody at school. Everyday there’s a young person handcuffed. Many. Even students that say ‘it’s for our own good’ won’t deny that this is happening.” The LAUSD has an eight year old policy of randomly searching students for weapons on middle and high school campuses, although the Chief of School Police and other school officials admit that these searches have never produced a single weapon. Statistics show, and LAUSD officials admit, that very few students bring guns to school. Although that small number is steadily diminishing, the district has no intention of stopping the searches, especially in Southeast LA, with its high population of Black and Latino students. At a recent school board meeting some Locke students stood up and brought a “fired-up, can’t take no more” attitude to the sullen boardroom. “The methods used at my school are doing more harm than good. I feel like a criminal rather than a safe student.” Crystal, a senior, declared. “A dean and a cop come into our classes and say ‘Now your class will be randomly searched.’ Then they point to students and say ‘You, you, you, and you!’ We’re chosen according to how we look. They target certain students. AP [honors] classes don’t get searched. They don’t call our parents to get permission [which, legally, they must do.] I feel like a prisoner or a criminal.” Starlett, 17, a solid young black woman, determinedly laid it down. “My school erupts in violence everyday, not because of the students, or the neighborhood, but because the school tries to control us rather than educate us.” In March, the Locke Student Union called a meeting at the Watts Labor Community Action Center, where they announced a list of 10 demands, and told the truth of their own experiences. They wanted qualified teachers for every classroom, who would stay awake and wouldn’t talk on cell phones during classes - who would actually engage them as students. They asked for books, supplies and materials for all classes, especially those that aren’t AP honors classes. They called for an end to racist standardized testing. And they demanded “an immediate end to brutality towards students, including illegal searches and seizures, unlawful arrests, constant surveillance and excessive use of force.” Ami tells me that school officials tried to discredit the students by saying they were her puppets. “After the community meeting staff members were saying things like, ‘We know our students couldn’t come up with these demands.’ As if they weren’t capable of expressing themselves at all. And if a school is viewing its students that way, you can imagine how its treating [them].” None of the students’ demands were met. The attacks on Ami increased. She tells me about the event that she believes led the principal to terminate her contract, the last time she refused to allow a search in her classroom. Her body language shifts, she becomes more introspective. Her words carry greater caution, yet, new determination. I sense that she’s revisited this scene many times. It’s the one where the search team comes in and tries to get her to back down. Where the dean insists that they must search her students. But there’s no way she’ll let them do it, especially in this class that she hand picked, where two-thirds of the students are on probation. It violates probation to refuse a search and she’s not about to see her students arrested. The dean threatens to call the principal. Ami holds her ground. The principal arrives sweating profusely, top lip quivering. She looks at Ami with hate, with that “this time, you have gone too far” look. She orders Ami to go down to her office. Ami refuses. After being ordered again she gets her things together and as she walks out the door she says to her students, “You know what to do.” - Stay on task, get to work, stay calm. Instead, her students righteously rebel. Half the class runs out with shouts of “You ain’t gonna search us!” The other half demands that the administration call their parents and get permission to do the search. It’s the scene where everyone of her students stands up. “Every one,” she repeats slowly, consciously. It’s the scene she would do over and over for her students if she had to, if she could, even if it cost her job. And it did. But she has this to say about it, “The school needs to keep its order. I was like the beginning of a cancer and they saw that. [They hoped to] get the cancer out. But I’m not the only one. It’s not going to stop. This is the community that produced some of the greatest organizers in SNCC and the Black Panthers. Something’s going on there. There’s something’s fertile in Watts and Southeast LA that you can’t stop, no matter how hard you try,” Ami asserts with a smile. Today, in the overall climate of criminalization of young people, these resisters at Locke High offer us a model of what we need to do. We must continue to send a message that no matter how badly they try to control our bodies, our hopes, our futures, we won’t take it. We must continue to stand up for the youth. We must continue to resist, fight back, and unite, everyday in greater numbers. As Mumia Abu Jamal says, “People say they don’t care about politics. They think they are not involved, but they are. When you don’t oppose a system, your silence is approval...Many people say it’s insane to resist the system, but, actually, it’s insane not to.”
If you think it's just adolescents, minorities and anarchists who are being targeted, think again. This dispatch from St. Petersburg, Florida, should give pause to every American who ever voted for the 'wrong' candidate:
St. Petersburg Times, June 15, 2001 P. O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL, 33731 Police reports released this week show Republican volunteers at last week's presidential rally played a key role in the arrest of three sign-waving protesters. The reports and interviews by the St. Petersburg Times, suggest it was the volunteers who first demanded the three protesters surrender their small signs, which derided George W. Bush and brought attention to Gay Pride Month. Summoned to the scene, police charged the protesters with trespassing when they refused to give up the signs or to leave. Volunteers at the Legends Field event say they were just following orders given by event organizers that prohibited signs on the field. But video footage obtained by the Times appears to show the rule was selectively enforced. Even as the disturbance unfolded, numerous crowd members were allowed to wave pro-Bush signs, some handmade, some professionally printed. Questions remain about how the rule was intended to be enforced. Even a police officer confronting the protesters seemed unsure why it applied to them but not to Bush supporters. A taped exchange between the officer and a protester, 59-year-old Sonja Haught, captures the confusion. Told by the officer she can stay on the field if she surrenders her sign, an angry Haught asks about the Bush supporters: "Why can't they lose their signs?" The officer's response: "You're talking to the wrong person." Two Republican volunteers were at the center of the action: Bill Bunkley and William D. Cordova. Bunkley of Tampa told the Times he was standing near the podium when he heard protesters chanting "Hail to the thief!" and other slogans. He noticed their signs. At a hasty briefing before the event, he said, he was told that no signs of whatever political persuasion should be allowed through the gate onto the field. "When I asked the folks they would have to give up their signs because they had to be left at the gate, they started yelling about their First Amendment rights, and some curse words started to fly," Bunkley said. Why were the Bush signs allowed to stay? "I did not see a single Bush sign prior to this confrontation," Bunkley said. Bunkley said he asked protesters to mind their language, since there was a group of little leaguers standing nearby. The close-pressed crowd was growing increasingly hostile to the protesters, he said. "I called in security (and said), 'We've got some flaming tempers down here,'" Bunkley said, adding he stands by his action because he wanted to defuse the situation. A Tampa Police Department report says that another Republican volunteer, William D. Cordova, who was working as an usher, summoned an officer to the scene. "Cordova stated to me that the individuals were not complying with the event rules and would not relinquish their signs," the report reads. "Cordova repeatedly ordered the individuals to comply with the event staff personnel or face being ejected from the event." The more the protesters resisted giving up their signs, the more unruly the crowd became, with some grabbing at a sign held by protester Mauricio Rosas, the report says. Volunteers, Legends Field security, and police all asked Rosas to leave. "Rosas was attempting to incite the crowd by his outright disobedience and his encouragement to the individuals around him to interlock their arms with him," the report says. The tape shows the crowd applauding as Rosas, 37, is dragged away. They cheer again when police lead Haught and the third protester, Janis Lentz, 55, off the field. The White House, which has not taken a position on whether the presidential rally was a public or a private event, says the New York Yankees organization was the event's host. The Yankees have not returned repeated calls for comment. "What happened here in Tampa is a total travesty of justice," said Robert Kunst, president of the Oral Majority, a Miami Beach-based political action group that organized a small demonstration Thursday in front of City Hall. Kunst and the protesters are calling for an investigation into the police conduct, promising to sue. They charge authorities committed a hate crime by asking Rosas to give up his gay pride sign. They hand delivered their complaint to Tampa Mayor Dick Greco's secretary. "Tampa, get ready to write a check -- we're going after you," Kunst said.
Of considerable concern is the fact that the police-state culture is now invading the public school system. The following dispatch should sound quite familiar to parents of high-school students in certain schools across America. Students who ought to be concentrating on their studies are instead finding their education interrupted by their contacts with the criminal "justice" system. Read this dispatch from the Village Voice, reprinted from the Change Links server:
Monday June 18 12:36 PM EDT Preppin' for Prison: Cops Lock Down Schools By Adamma Ince, Village Voice Writer Three years into a four-year pilot program giving the New York Police Department control of safety in the public schools, sexual assaults have increased so dramatically that the City Council is now arguing for the addition of 200 more cops plus surveillance cameras in stairwells. Many in the community-parents, kids, teachers, and some elected officials-say the council is ignoring what's really going on. New York's black and Hispanic families worry that the NYPD's historic use of discriminatory and aggressive tactics against minorities has resulted not in protection for their kids, but in criminalization. They say we've turned our schools into training grounds for prisons, complete with metal detectors, frisking, and holding cells. It cannot be denied that when the cops first took control in 1998, the public school system and its students were out of control. Innocent teachers and students were beaten up, slashed, and even killed. Rightly, Mayor Giuliani, who has suggested the Board of Education be "blown up," argued that not only were students uneducated, but they were also allowed to commit violent crimes without schools reporting them to the police. His answer to the "crisis"? The NYPD. In a speech on education, the mayor claimed the city's finest could provide the screening, training, and supervision to "remake the Division of School Safety into a professional, disciplined force, sensitive to the needs of students, teachers, and staff." He dismissed the idea of police misconduct and declared the NYPD "the most restrained" officers in the country. With that, the cops took over school safety for the first time in the city's history. Board of Education member Irving Hamer now regrets his role in the decision, which in the last two years has led to the citywide doubling of court summonses for kids 16 and up, all while sexual assault has grown-by nearly 13 percent this year-and slashings and robberies continue. "I just hate that I was even in on it," says Hamer, who joined the unanimous vote but now believes the arrangement has "criminalized school buildings." The increasing police presence "has an undertone that is not good, and is not something we should do to children, who are so vulnerable to images"-especially, he says, "in light of the history of the police department in communities of color." ---------------------------------------------------------------- As the kids see it, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to about 5 p.m., they are eyeballed, stopped, and often bullied by officers who are trained to track and punish criminals. Take the scene outside Martin Luther King Jr. High School in Manhattan, where each morning a couple thousand kids, still half asleep, line up around the building. On a freezing Tuesday this year, the line is backed up because one of the two metal detectors is broken; the wait could be another hour or two. The teens seem accustomed to the line, killing time and cold by nestling together and talking about everything from the latest clothes to J.Lo and Puffy, and even the cops staked out across the street in paddy wagons "clockin' " them. Aside from a few sighs and rolling eyes, they ignore the suspicious glares from Five-O, opting instead to focus on the tight security check ahead. In white suburban America, where the most brutal acts of student violence have taken place, parents and community leaders resist metal detectors and police, arguing that criminalizing schools is too high a price. But in New York City, where 85 percent of the students are kids of color, these procedures have silently become daily routine. As of June 2000, there were 191 baggage X-ray machines and 305 walk- through metal detectors in use in 72 schools, with more to come. At Martin Luther King Jr., each child swipes a photo ID card through a computer, knowing that a forgotten card means having to manually enter an ID number, and a forgotten number means access could be denied for the day. These cards are linked to a database that includes the student's class schedule as well as records of lateness, absence, cutting, truancy, fighting, and other offenses. Any card branded with an infraction will trigger a buzz and a red bulb alerting officers to remove the student from the line for questioning and possible disciplinary action. If all is well with the card, a green bulb clears the student for the next checkpoint. Here, they send their bags through an X-ray machine, then shuffle through a metal detector, where a harmless belt buckle, ruler, or piece of jewelry could set off the alarm, subjecting any student to a body scan and pat down. The kids are more preoccupied with the ringing of the first-period bell than with civil rights violations, since anyone who hasn't cleared security by then will be marked for cutting and have to wait on line until second period. This prison-like system sometimes causes more problems than it prevents. Last October, Raymone, a 14-year-old who's being raised by his mother, ran into trouble when he tried to enter Prospect Heights High School without his ID. An unarmed safety agent told him that without a card, he'd have to leave. What happened next isn't clear. An assistant principal says the safety agent reported that Raymone started pushing him. Raymone claims an officer shoved him toward the door. "He just kept pushing me and saying, 'You gotta leave,' even though he knew I belonged there. I walked through those doors every day, but he didn't care. So I got mad and I pulled away from him. "Next thing I know we're stumbling, and nine other guards are all over me, and glass from a window nearby is crashing everywhere. I was scared and mad, but I couldn't do anything. The guard said I punched him, so they cuffed me and took me to the precinct." When his mother arrived at her job in the U.S. Treasury Department (news - web sites), a coworker handed her a message saying that her son was being held at the 71st Precinct. "My heart dropped when I got to the precinct," she says. "My child's neck, wrists, and back were bruised. Buttons were torn off his shirt. I wasn't able to protect him, and it was the worst pain I've ever felt. And for what? Just because he didn't have an ID?" If anyone from the school had called to tell her about Raymone's lack of an ID, his mother says, she would have picked him up. Instead, she ended up spending four hours in the police station, waiting for an officer to file a complaint. She was left to deal with Raymone's bruises, his subsequent expulsion, his legal fees, conviction for assault, and punishment of six months' probation and court-mandated counseling. His mother is convinced the scars will remain, even after the sentence is over. "There is no ending to this," she says. "Once a child gets caught up in the system, it follows them for life. He's branded now, and nothing I can do will erase that." ---------------------------------------------------------- Police presence has changed the coming-of-age experience for this generation of students. Last December, Martin Luther King Jr. High held its first school dance of the year. As the students partied and celebrated their freshman year, six safety agents and 10 armed police stood guard in the main entrance, overshadowing photos of Reverend King and a copy of his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. These kids go to schools with metal grates on the windows, steel doors, and surveillance cameras. When suspected of breaking a rule, they're held by officers, detained, and interrogated in rooms the students call "the cells." For all this, the schools don't feel much safer. In November, the Joint Committee on School Safety, staffed equally by representatives from the mayor's and the chancellor's offices, produced the first official report since the takeover. The committee wrote that 67 percent of all principals polled said "there has been no change in their school's climate of safety" since the transfer. But parents, and many principals, say there's been a big change- though not one they want. "You cannot have children this exposed to cops and not expect the kids to get the short end of the stick," says Carrie Monroe, the mother of a 15-year-old at Prospect Heights. "Cops in the train station when they arrive for school, more cops parked outside the school, and then toy cops inside the school patting them down. How can they learn in that environment? My son is always coming home with some horror story about kids being unnecessarily stopped by police. It's not right." The numbers tell a complicated story. The joint committee report indicates the total number of criminal incidents has dropped 17 percent. Burglary is way down. And arrests-when a student is taken to the precinct and ordered to appear in court-have dropped by 23 percent. But the total number of students having encounters with law enforcement has jumped-by 17 percent. The number of kids between seven and 16 getting "juvenile reports," which go on file at the precinct, is up 12 percent. The number of kids 16 and up getting summonses-which can be issued either at school or at the precinct, and which also require an appearance in court-has gone up more than 100 percent. Giuliani's "quality of life" tactics have infiltrated the city schools. Cops have stepped up surveillance and enforcement in a way that is perceived as harassment. They're writing hundreds of summonses-457 in one recent year alone-for what would otherwise be normal, adolescent acting out. In the first year of the pilot program, trespassing shot up 325 percent, loitering 230 percent-kids hanging out, in the wrong place at the wrong time. "Everything that's wrong [with Giuliani's police tactics] on the streets is multiplied tenfold when you apply it to the schools," says Nancy Ginsburg, a Legal Aid attorney who deals with juvenile offenders. "How do you evaluate what's disorderly conduct for a 15-year-old?" Ginsburg continues. "Kids by their nature are disorderly. They do wacky things! They run around the hallways and pick off people's hats- that's grand larceny!" If a beef between two kids ends in a fight, she says, "It could be because they don't want to look like a wuss- that's criminal intent for 15-year-olds!" With adolescents, she says, "There's no end to what you can say is criminal behavior." The ordinary attitude of a high school kid can be the very thing that sets cops off. In a report on city policing released last July, mayoral candidate and public advocate Mark Green uncovered what black and Hispanic people have always known about police brutality. In "43 percent of the cases where officers were actually disciplined," Green wrote, "acts of misconduct occurred when officers believed that victims were being disrespectful." The same complaints of racial profiling and excessive force on the streets are now being voiced by students and parents. "Every time the city claims that crime is down, black people start getting violated and there is always some excuse to brush it off," says Carl Monroe, father of a Prospect Heights student. "I don't want to be one of those fathers whose kid gets shot by mistake. It's obvious that no one is watching how the cops treat our kids." -------------------------------------------------------------- Much of the daily enforcement is actually done by a largely black and Hispanic force of safety agents equipped with handcuffs. Since the pilot program began, the agents have been getting 120 additional hours of training from police academy instructors who teach them to think like cops. The law section, for example, has jumped from 28 to 51 hours, with additional emphasis on crime classification, probable cause and reasonable suspicion, and search and seizure. "We were trained to keep track of repeat offenders for truancy, cutting, lateness, fighting, and any other negative behavior patterns," says a former high school safety agent in Queens who didn't want her name used, because she now works for another part of the department. "The job became more hardcore and criminal-oriented." She dismisses the idea that kids are harassed or coerced by safety agents and other officers. "It's not that simple," she says. Most problems, she believes, stem from inadequate training for a job that deals with adolescents in turmoil. When the NYPD first took over, agents underwent a onetime training period of nine weeks. "What little child psychology and sensitivity training we got could never prepare anyone to deal with the range of emotions that 2000 kids come to school with every day," she says. "Sometimes you really have to back off and realize what these kids go through when they are not in school. At the end of the day, they are still kids." Uncomfortable with arresting and fingerprinting students, the woman transferred out of the schools. Some of her peers have taken a different route. School-safety agents can now be promoted into better-paying jobs as New York City cops, which may mean they have more incentive to act tough. Every time there is an incident involving a student, they are required to phone it in to a 24-hour school-safety operations center. The offense is classified under the penal code, then entered into a central computer, so the police can keep track of crime patterns. The system is modeled on COMPSTAT, the police database used to target trouble spots. Since the takeover, police have been working more closely with principals to develop safety plans that consider not just the school, but the entire neighborhood. Safety agents aren't the only cops focused on kids. Mornings and afternoons, under the Safe Corridor program, uniformed police patrol 158 routes between bus and train stations and schools. Under Safe Passage, 98 transit police were assigned to cover the stations near schools. Students have their own take on the police presence. "The po-po are like recruiters around here, only they don't want us for the NBA or the NFL. They want us for jail," says 16-year-old Tarell, who was recently kicked out of Prospect Heights High School for fighting and spent two days in jail. "People don't understand what we go through," Tarell says. "You could be standing up chillin' with your friends, and they will roll up on you and start questioning you for no reason. They don't even do it in a nice way. It's like, 'Didn't I see you here before? Get your ass up on the wall and spread 'em.' Your first instinct is to run, but you know that will make it 10 times as bad." ------------------------------------------------------------------ Nowhere is police scrutiny tighter than around the "zone" schools, for which the minimum requirement is to live in the neighborhood. The student bodies consist of those who either didn't apply to or didn't get accepted by a specialized high school. Some have been kicked out of other schools. Most "zoners," as the kids call them, are located in or close to ghettos. Children of immigrants, the poor, unemployed, crackheads, alcoholics, and ol' school gangbangers are educated (or not) at schools like Wingate and Erasmus in Brooklyn, Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy in the Bronx, and Franklin K. Lane on the Brooklyn- Queens border. These schools, the melting pots of education, have been easy prey for Giuliani's quality of life crackdown. "Lord knows these schools and the kids live up to their reputations," says Brooklyn high school teacher Yvonne Milford. "It's easy for police to bait these kids. Many of them have turbulent lives. They are often abused, confused, and angry. They fight, curse, steal, and threaten, because they are not matured enough to deal with the hardships of life. "Despite all of that, there hasn't been one mass murder committed in any of these schools," she adds. "It's a double-edged sword. As teachers we try to encourage them to come to school, and when they get here, they are forced to share their space with cops who use their problems against them." Ten or 20 safety agents roaming the halls of a zone school is standard. They scatter, sweeping the stairwells looking for kids cutting class. In some schools, like Harry S. Truman in the Bronx, they're backed by armed cops who also patrol the premises. During one tour of Truman High, all was quiet until seven kids-four boys and three girls-were picked up by regular police for loitering outside the school. One boy protested that he'd left school because he was sick and asked a police officer to call his mother. "I'm your mother right now," the officer said. In that incident, police called parents and wrote up summonses from inside Truman's school-safety command center. But often kids who get arrested are automatically taken to the precinct, advocates say. Many kids who get summonses for lesser offenses wind up at the police station-with all the other alleged criminals. "Students aren't getting written up in schools," says Elisa Hyman, deputy director of Advocates for Children. "They're getting handcuffed and then taken to the station." Police don't have a firm breakdown of kids who receive summonses at school and those who are taken to the precinct on the spot, and in any case, statistics don't paint the whole picture. Police and school safety agents are adults dealing with kids and teens, and they may do things that never show up on the books. Kids say they are often frisked, handcuffed, and questioned, then sent on their way. Ginsburg, the juvenile attorney, says students who are handcuffed and therefore "not free to go" often feel as if they've been under arrest, even if the police never record a bust. These kids are getting lessons in how it feels to be a criminal, even if they haven't been charged. "It's really sad," Milford says. "We can't seem to teach them how to read and write, but we allow the police to educate them about fingerprints, holding cells, and plea bargaining. We seem to be choosing handcuffs over textbooks." ------------------------------------------------------------------ Each generation has raised its share of rebellious teenagers, from the rollers of the '50s to the stoners of the '60s. In the suburbs, white parents resist bringing in high security to deal with their rebellious teens. In this city, public school adolescents risk paying an exceptionally high price for what could be ordinary acting out. Black and Hispanic parents have long been stripped of the right to have their children properly educated in this city; now they are forced to watch as schools-supported by their tax dollars and administered by people they elect-become a vessel for introducing their children to the criminal justice system. Given current rates of incarceration, three out of every 10 black males can expect to do time. Some 64 percent of the people behind bars in the U.S. are African American or Hispanic, a proportion nearly equal to that of the city's 1.1 million public school students. The question becomes: Which classrooms are those future inmates sitting in now?So there you have it. Your Bill of Rights protections being quietly and systematically dismantled, and replaced by police-state fascism. If you're an American reading this, I hope you either take action or feel you can live with it. If you're not an American, you can be thankful, and should pray for us. We're certainly going to need all the help we can get.
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