NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD CALLS FOR AN EMERGENCY PRESS CONFERENCE REGARDING ARRESTS OF LEGAL OBSERVERS, DELAYS IN PROCESSING ARRESTED PROTESTORS, AND DENIAL ATTORNEY ACCESS TO CLIENTS
Contact: Shonna Carter, RiptideCommunications, Inc.
The National Lawyers Guild, New York City Chapter, is holding an emergency press conference on Monday, August 30, 2004, at 10:00 am at the Criminal Courthouse at 100 Center Street regarding arrested protestors being held in jail for up to 34 hours, only to be released on a desk appearance ticket, arrestees being held for as long as 20 hours, only to be released without charges, and the NYPD refusing attorneys who have asked to see their clients. There have also been reports of failure to provide necessary medical attention to those arrestees needing it.
An alarming development has been the targetting by the NYPD of NLG legal observers, clearly identified by neon green hats. Eight legal observers were arrested: Alex Bomstein, Keith Emmer, Mark Feinstein, Josh Kelly, Dave Rankin, Miles Swanson, Mark Taylor, and one unidentified woman. Others have been harassed and even physically assaulted. One legal observer was grabbed from behind by the police while he was on a bicycle, thrown to the ground and arrested. An arresting officer was heard to state: "We got one of their captains." Police officers were also seen photographing legal observer teams as they left the legal observer office.
Joining the Guild at the press conference will be State Senator Tom Duane and City Councilmembers Charles Barron and Gail Brewer.
We are calling on the New York Police Department to immediately stop targetting Guild legal observers. We are calling on the NYPD to allow arrestees access to counsel, to expeditiously issue desk appearance tickets for minor violations such as disorderly conduct, to assist the court in processing arraignment of others within 24 hours of arrest, to respect National Lawyers Guild legal observers, and to agree to meet with lawyers from the National Lawyers Guild to resolve these problems.
Lengthy delays in detention and denial of access to counsel are unconscionable. To prepare for possible RNC protest arrests, the Criminal Court postponed normal hearing schedules and doubled the arraignment court parts, prompt appearance before an arraignment judge should be occurring. Delay in detention and additional delay bringing detainees to Court may be the NYPD's signal that peaceful protest is to be punished and discouraged.