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And *Yet Another* RNC Batch....

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  • Dan Clore
    News & Views for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo ***** ZNet | Repression Arrest-happy cops on the prowl Even polite protestors
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 3, 2004
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      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo

      *****

      ZNet | Repression
      Arrest-happy cops on the prowl
      Even "polite" protestors and apolitical pedestrians are fair
      game in RNC round-up
      by Isabel Macdonald
      September 02, 2004

      Karen Agugliaro and her two friends, Cynthia and Cliff, were
      standing on the curb on Manhattan’s West 34th Street, near
      Broadway, on a balmy Tuesday evening, the second day of the
      Republican National Convention, when a spontaneous protest
      erupted on the sidewalk beside them.

      A group of about 30 people converged on the corner singing
      "these streets are our streets."

      The three passers-by, who had no intention of getting
      themselves arrested, dutifully obeyed the cops when police
      officers ordered the crowd to stand by the wall on the side
      of the sidewalk if they didn't want to get arrested."

      "We said OK," Agugliaro recalled; the three friends heeded
      the cops' warning, moving aside. To her surprise, when she
      looked back at her two companions a moment later, they were
      both being arrested. "There were my two friends, who were
      co-operative and polite, caught up in handcuffs."

      The police placed metal fences around everybody on the
      sidewalk at the corner of Broadway and West 34th, informing
      them they were being arrested for "disturbing the peace". I
      saw a cop running after two passer-bys who tried to escape;
      one man in an orange Buddhist robe managed to flee, though
      not before the cop gave him a shove, and I watched another
      man narrowly dodge out of reach of another police officer's
      grasp and sprint away to the freedom of Fifth Avenue, with a
      petrified expression on his face.

      Agugliaro was enraged, and baffled. The reason for arresting
      the people chanting on the street may have been obscure, but
      the way her friends were being carted off in a paddy wagon
      was plain nonsensical.

      Similar situations seemed to be popping up every way I
      turned in Manhattan that day.

      That afternoon, I had witnessed police conduct mass arrests
      at a peaceful march commemorating the casualties of war and
      terror. The procession, organized by the War Resisters
      League and School of the Americas Watch, had not even
      advanced a block from its departing point at ground zero
      when the police rounded up and arrested 80 people.

      The arrestees had been walking in rows of two on the
      sidewalk, like a procession of remarkably obedient
      school-children on a class trip to a museum -- exactly as
      they had been instructed to do by the cops. The first people
      to begin marching, they had not even walked a block when
      they were fenced in and surrounded by over a hundred police
      officers, cruisers, vans and buses on the corner of Church
      and Fulton Streets.

      Eric DeCompte, the Outreach Co-ordinator of School of the
      Americas Watch, stood with the remaining demonstrators on
      the other side of Church St., hands on his toddler's
      stroller, and calmly led a chorus singing for peace, as the
      orderly lines of marchers were informed that they were being
      arrested for "obstructing governmental administrations."

      I heard the guy standing beside me, a kid in his early 20s
      named Alex, wonder aloud: "the cops just seem confused."

      He was not referring only to the scene unfolding in front of
      us at the ground zero site; he was making a general
      observation on the cops' manner of handling the
      anti-convention demos over the past days. Despite the
      abundant police and intelligence forces present in the city,
      the authorities' seemed to lack a basic capacity to draw
      simple cognitive distinctions -- for instance, between
      protestor and unaffiliated pedestrian, between a veritable
      threat to the peace and a procession marching so obediently
      in double file that it attracted jeers from the young
      anarchist punks it passed.

      This week, in an article praising the "police restraint" at
      the August 29 march organized by United for Peace and
      Justice, The New York Times reported an incident in which
      two deli customers making their way home with take-out food
      were handcuffed by police. The cops were conducting a
      round-up of protestors on bicycles in the vicinity of the
      Sunday march, and the two take-out customers, who unluckily
      happened to have arrived at the deli on bicycles, were
      caught up in a wave of arrests. One of those arrestees,
      Alexander Pincus, stated to the Times, "We were like, 'Look
      at the food. It's still warm. They wouldn't listen to
      anything we said." However, beneath the apparent confusion,
      it's clear that there is a kind of logic in the police
      tactics for dealing with the demonstrators: arrest as many
      as possible, and stop protests before they even begin.

      This strategy was apparent last Friday, when cops began
      doing mass arrests at the Critical Mass bike ride through
      Manhattan. The ride is a monthly event, in which the New
      York Police Department has historically played a supportive
      role by helping to block traffic to clear the road for the
      cyclists. On the eve of the Republicans' arrival in NYC, the
      ride garnered unprecedented numbers; organizers estimate
      that 5000 cyclists participated, and the cops responded by
      arresting 264 people.

      One cyclist from Rochester recalled the way the event turned
      from a peaceful ride to a tense scene of mass arrests: "They
      had undercover cops on scooters driving through bikers; they
      put up netting on one street, basically caging us in like
      animals."

      He noted police intimidation tactics began before the ride;
      "The cops had been sending out these very intimidating
      letters to bicycle groups warning them not to go on the
      ride." At the time of writing, on September 1, Democracy Now
      is reporting an estimated 1500 arrests since the beginning
      of the weekend. Those arrested are now being held at the
      processing centre at Pier 57. According to recent reports
      posted on Indymedia, there are between 1000-2000 people
      inside, and multiple reports of oil and chemical residue on
      the floor. Also, one caller reported dehydration, verbal
      abuse from guards, and complained of having no room to sit
      down. People are being held without charges and without
      having been read their rights.

      *****

      Sep. 3, 2004. 01:00 AM
      New York fined for detentions
      Judge orders immediate release of 470 protesters
      Mayor Bloomberg equates yelling with terrorism
      by SARA KUGLER
      ASSOCIATED PRESS

      NEW YORK -- A judge ordered city officials yesterday to
      immediately release nearly 500 anti-GOP protesters, then
      held the city in contempt for not complying and imposed a
      fine that could total almost a half-million dollars.

      State Supreme Court Justice John Cataldo fined the city
      $1,000 for every protester held past a 5 p.m. deadline he
      had set for their release. It was unclear how many detainees
      were still in custody, but Cataldo had ordered the release
      of 470 people.

      "These people have already been the victims of a process,"
      Cataldo told the city's top lawyer. "I can no longer accept
      your statement that you are trying to comply."

      Cataldo then ordered the release of the 470 detainees, who
      had been in custody for anywhere from 36 to 66 hours. The
      decision was immediately hailed by lawyers for the
      demonstrators.

      "They have to release them right now," said veteran civil
      rights lawyer Norman Siegel. "The judge, to his credit,
      said, 'Enough.'"

      Protests continued during the final day of the convention
      yesterday, with 26 arrests made by 9:30 p.m. Verbal
      harassment of delegates also continued, leading New York
      Mayor Michael Bloomberg to draw parallels between the
      protesters and terrorists.

      "It is true that a handful of people have tried to destroy
      our city by going up and yelling at visitors here because
      they don't agree with their views," he said.

      "Think about what that says. This is America, New York,
      cradle of liberty, the city for free speech if there ever
      was one and some people think that we shouldn't allow people
      to express themselves. That's exactly what the terrorists
      did, if you think about it, on 9/11. Now this is not the
      same kind of terrorism but there's no question that these
      anarchists are afraid to let people speak out."

      City officials blamed the delays in releasing the suspects
      on extraordinary volume. On Tuesday, for example, there were
      nearly 1,200 arrests in four hours -- one of the largest
      mass arrests in the nation's history -- compared with the
      roughly 300 arraignments that take place daily in Manhattan
      Criminal Court.

      Once arrested, detainees are supposed to be through the
      system within 24 hours.

      'We can't just open the jails of the city of New York and
      let everybody out'
      -- Michael Cardozo, Corporation Counsel

      There were accusations the city was deliberately holding the
      protesters longer so they would not be in the streets during
      U.S. President George W. Bush's speech at the Republican
      National Convention last night.

      "The evidence shows that the city told defendants that they
      would not be released until George Bush went home," said Dan
      Alterman, of the National Lawyers Guild.

      The New York Police Department denied this. "The allegations
      that the NYPD was purposely holding demonstrators until
      after the president of the United States left New York City
      was part of a deliberate misinformation campaign," police
      spokesman Paul Browne said.

      At a hearing during which Cataldo determined the city had
      failed to comply with his release order, Corporation Counsel
      Michael Cardozo tried in vain to convince the judge the city
      was trying desperately to comply.

      "We can't just open the jails of the city of New York and
      let everybody out," Cardozo said. "We're not trying to flout
      Your Honour's order . . . We're doing everything humanly
      possible."

      Siegel, the civil rights lawyer, was representing the mother
      of a 17 year old arrested Tuesday. He said the teen's mother
      claimed she was told by Manhattan booking officials that her
      son would be held until Bush left town.

      About 50 of the detainees launched a hunger strike yesterday
      to protest their extended time behind bars.

      Last night, some 2,000 people attended a candlelit vigil in
      Union Square organized by United for Peace and Justice,
      which also sponsored a huge rally Sunday.

      With files from New York Times

      *****

      http://www.ctnow.com/news/local/hc-protest0903.artsep03,1,7416087.story?coll=hc-headlines-local
      Weary Protesters Unsure Of Their Impact
      By JOHN JURGENSEN
      Courant Staff Writer
      September 3 2004

      NEW YORK -- Political intensity is not the only measure of
      an activist's mettle. Stamina was just as vital for the
      people who settled in here almost a week ago to fulfill a
      packed schedule of dissent.

      "My friends are at home. They're done for the week," Leia
      Jools Jimenez said Thursday, the closing day of the
      Republican National Convention.

      "Their feet are broken from marching. They want to go home."
      Their departure back to Minnesota, however, depended on how
      much gas money Jimenez could muster, strumming her guitar in
      Union Square Park.

      Protest fatigue is temporary. But the lingering issue for
      the participants -- fair-weather marchers and entrenched
      anarchists alike -- will be the impact they had on the GOP
      juggernaut and the voters who watched it.

      Members of the media and other observers had a mixed
      appraisal of the reach of the week's demonstrations.

      Having experienced both the ebullience of a massive,
      well-covered march last Sunday and the frustration of so
      many arrests, many protesters were ambivalent as they looked
      back.

      "Going to jail was really a deadening experience
      emotionally," said Kaya Weidman, 21, who lives in an
      encampment of about 10 people in an upstate New York forest.
      She was one of roughly 200 people arrested during a peaceful
      rally Tuesday near ground zero. That led to about 15 hours
      for her in cramped holding pens. At one point, she said, she
      took turns on a mattress her friends had made of a trash bag
      stuffed with crumpled milk cartons and rejected bologna
      sandwiches.

      "The Republicans, I don't think they care. The media, who
      knows?" she said. "I think the most significant part has
      been the strengthening of the community."

      But what could be more crucial in terms of the coming
      election is how the protests were portrayed to people
      outside her insular community. And that, of course, depended
      on how the assembled press corps weighed its coverage
      priorities.

      Jeffrey Schneider, vice president of ABC News, said he
      believes his network had fully covered events occurring both
      inside and outside Madison Square Garden.

      "I'm not sure there's been a broadcast that's gone by that
      hasn't directly discussed what's gone on outside," he said.

      The Republican visit to relatively hostile territory held
      the possibility for widespread violence, a potential
      scenario that probably led to certain expectations in the
      news media.

      "Unfortunately, the press -- especially TV -- does not give
      prominent coverage to largely peaceful protest," Los Angeles
      Times reporter David Zucchino said. "Sadly, it usually takes
      either deaths, violence or destruction of property to make a
      splash."

      With the exception of Sunday's march, protest coverage on
      CNN has not run during prime time but would play during the
      day, said David Bohrman, the network's Washington bureau
      chief. He called this schedule "perfectly reasonable."

      "The only ball we dropped was when 800 or 1,000 people got
      arrested a couple blocks away and I didn't know about it,"
      Bohrman said. "If I had, we would have had something."

      But the opinion of observers outside New York is probably
      influenced less by the quantity of the protest coverage than
      by the tone of the demonstrations themselves, said Jeremi
      Suri, an expert on protest movements at the University of
      Wisconsin, Madison.

      The author of a book called "Power and Protest," Suri based
      his opinions on what he gleaned from the news. "It's been a
      remarkably orderly set of protests. But that works both
      ways. On one hand, it's difficult for people to slander the
      protesters and accuse them of being violent anarchists. On
      the other hand, since they've been, shall we say, polite and
      contained, they've not been able to break the Republican
      message."

      The arrest of about 1,100 people on Tuesday -- a record
      number for a single day in New York -- made headlines. But
      not only did these arrests sweep many protesters (and,
      reportedly, more than a few bystanders) off the streets, it
      also distracted them from their original mission.

      "It was more about fighting the police than expressing
      people's views," said Rachel Hyman, 23, who found her plans
      for an unsanctioned street party aborted when most of her
      friends were put away.

      Jamie Moran, an oft-quoted local anarchist in the run-up to
      the convention, singled out the highlight of the convention
      so far. As he stood with friends Thursday at Union Square,
      he recalled dancing around a group of Texas delegates,
      loudly singing, "Y'all don't come back now, y'hear?"

      In the context of the anarchists' stated goal of creating a
      local movement that continues after the GOP leaves town, the
      antagonistic dance seemed a little silly. But it seemed to
      show how dissenting actions could be vital to the people
      doing them.

      "I felt it was very cathartic," Moran said. "It was a pure
      expression of my feelings."

      Courant Staff Writer Liz Halloran contributed to this story.

      *****

      Protesters, police agree on one thing: this week was
      successful
      By SARA KUGLER
      Associated Press Writer
      September 3, 2004, 3:18 PM EDT

      NEW YORK -- Swarming the streets this week, anti-GOP
      protesters made their voices heard. The police put on an
      unprecedented show of force, assuring things didn't spiral
      out of control.

      Both sides accomplished what they set out to do -- a point
      illustrated by one episode on the convention's second night.
      Twelve demonstrators wearing black hoods linked arms in a
      circle and sat down in the path of a bus carrying Louisiana
      delegates.

      With hundreds chanting "WHOSE streets? OUR streets," the
      protesters were promptly arrested, along with 150 others who
      swarmed the street in solidarity. Police deftly cleared the
      intersection, the delegates made it to the convention and no
      one was seriously hurt.

      For protesters it had all the elements of success -- a
      nonviolent protest in a landmark Manhattan intersection
      witnessed by Republicans with journalists on hand to capture
      the moment. Police would call it a triumph because they
      never lost control of the situation and there were no injuries.

      In fact, that's how the majority of this week's anti-GOP
      demonstrations, attended by as many as a half million people
      and policed by thousands of officers who made more than
      1,800 arrests, played out.

      So who can claim victory?

      "Both," said Sidney Tarrow, professor of sociology and
      political science at Cornell University. "This is a very
      well-disciplined police force and they have been successful,
      but the protesters have been successful as well in
      demonstrating their opposition to this war and this
      administration's policies."

      Sunday's anti-war march that twisted through midtown was the
      largest demonstration at a political convention ever, and
      dozens more actions came in the days that followed.

      They marched, chanted, blocked streets, banged drums,
      unfurled giant banners, rang bells, lighted candles and
      stripped naked in protest. They harassed delegates, slipped
      onto the convention floor and infiltrated Republican parties.

      "We're all mad, we all had that one message, and it really
      worked," said Jennifer Flynn, who helped organize a march
      and rally on Monday advocating poor people's issues.

      They protested the war and demonstrated for more AIDS
      funding, better treatment of the poor, women's rights, gay
      rights, and in memory of 9/11 victims. They started planning
      more than a year ago.

      It helped that they were organized, even the anarchists.
      Many communicated by text messages on their cell phones,
      using the service to establish meeting points, warn about
      police activity and update on actions as they were happening.

      "Need protesters at 38th and Park Ave, Bush arriving any
      sec!" came one message Thursday morning from a church where
      the president was to attend a prayer service.

      Some groups obtained permits for their gatherings, but for
      others, defying that process was the point. Most of the
      1,827 arrests were for disorderly conduct -- and a handful
      for assault.

      "We have every reason to be proud," Mayor Michael Bloomberg
      said Friday. "The NYPD did a great job."

      The 36,500-member New York Police Department planned for 18
      months a "rapid response" strategy to dispatch teams of
      officers on scooters, bicycles, horseback and foot
      throughout the city as demonstrations erupted. They used
      plastic netting and metal barricades to corral and disperse
      large groups.

      "We knew we had to be mobile and flexible," Commissioner
      Raymond Kelly said.

      In several cases, groups who threatened to march without
      permits, risking arrests and confrontations with officers,
      were allowed to do so after last-minute negotiations at the
      scene with police eager to avoid conflict.

      While city officials have expressed reserved praise for
      peaceful demonstrators, civil liberties groups and the
      protesters have criticized police for making sweeping
      arrests too quickly and for detaining prisoners in a filthy
      facility. The New York Civil Liberties Union said Friday
      that some protesters are likely to sue the city for how they
      were treated.

      Despite their successes this week, activists say their work
      is just beginning. A coalition of groups already has issued
      a call for nationwide civil disobedience the day after the
      presidential election, regardless of who wins, "because the
      crisis with our democracy did not start with Bush and won't
      end with Kerry."

      "Now people have a sense of what's possible," Flynn said.
      "Now, we know we cannot only do this, but we can do bigger."

      *****

      --
      Dan Clore

      Now available: _The Unspeakable and Others_
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      "It's a political statement -- or, rather, an
      *anti*-political statement. The symbol for *anarchy*!"
      -- Batman, explaining the circle-A graffiti, in
      _Detective Comics_ #608
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