Friday, September 03, 2004

First Amendment Zone 

Courtesy of our venerated colleagues at the All Spin Zone, an enticing photo of the Pier 57 detention facility where hundreds of protesters were held without charges and without access to counsel during the Republican National Convention. If you like this one, NYC.Indymedia.org has more:

 Posted by Hello

From the Village Voice yesterday:
1200 on Tuesday, nearly 1800 over the week.

That's the largest number of arrests in the history of party conventions, they noted, and coming on the heals of the hundreds of thousands who marched on Sunday, the strongest show of dissent ever mounted against a president.

But now comes the familiar litany of stories of abuse in jail, people denied access to lawyers, locked up for no reason or held for unnecessarily long stays. Bails have gone as high as $200,000 (for the kid nabbed during Sunday's puppet burning incident), while protesters are being taken to the hospital for skin reactions and asthma attacks from the chemicals and diesel soaked into the concrete floor at the Pier 57 detention center, a former bus depot, where reports are that as many as 40 protesters at a time had been crammed into the 10' by 20' pens covered in wire mesh.

At a news conference, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly dismissed the protesters' complaints, saying the air quality at the center had been tested and found safe. Kelly maintained that most protesters were transferred to Central Booking within 90 minutes, with the longest stays being eight hours there.

"He's either grossly misinformed or that's a baldfaced lie," counters Bruce Bentley of the National Lawyers Guild, who accused the city of "deliberately slowing down the processing in order to suppress dissent and keep people from protesting" Thursday night, when Bush delivers his acceptance speech at the convention. Bentley said protesters have reported spending an average of 12 hours at the pier and much longer in Central Booking, and noted that many bystanders—including several nuns, legal observers, and a New York Times reporter—were among those held.
And, from the L.A. Times (also via ASZ), John Ashcroft's Hellish Vision: Camps for Citizens.

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