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Judge Orders Protestors Released; NYC Fined For Refusing to Comply

State Supreme Court Justice John Cataldo fined the city $1,000 for every protester held past a 5 p.m. deadline that 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.
Judge Orders 470 GOP Protesters Released
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Published: September 2, 2004


Filed at 6:47 p.m. ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- A judge ordered the immediate release of nearly 500 protesters just hours before President Bush was to speak Thursday night at the Republican National Convention, then fined the city for refusing to comply with his order.

State Supreme Court Justice John Cataldo fined the city $1,000 for every protester held past a 5 p.m. deadline that 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,'' state Supreme Court Justice John Cataldo told the city's top lawyer. ``I can no longer accept your statement that you are trying to comply.''

The detainees had been in custody for anywhere from 36 to 66 hours. The decision was immediately hailed by attorneys for the demonstrators.

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

At a later hearing, Cataldo determined the city failed to comply with his release order and imposed his sanctions. City Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo tried in vain to convince the judge that the city was trying desperately to comply with his wishes.

``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 honor's order. ... We're doing everything humanly possible.''

The city had blamed the sheer volume of detainees for the backlog in getting them released. More than 1,700 protesters have been arrested during the convention and the preceding few days -- nearly 1,200 of them on Tuesday during a long-planned day of mass civil disobedience.

The judge's order came less than six hours before Bush was to accept his party's nomination for a second term in a speech at Madison Square Garden. Police were expecting protests coinciding with the speech.

About 50 of the detainees had launched a hunger strike Thursday to protest their extended time behind bars while awaiting arraignment. They were turning down the sandwiches and milk served three times a day in central booking until everyone was freed.

On Thursday, New York commuters were greeted at Grand Central Station by about 100 demonstrators unfurling banners and releasing colorful balloons urging President Bush to do more in the fight against AIDS. There were 26 arrests.

United for Peace and Justice, the group that sponsored the huge pre-convention rally Sunday that drew more than 120,000 people and possibly many thousands more to Manhattan, planned an evening rally at Union Square. Sunday's protest was the largest ever at a U.S. political convention.

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Associated Press writer Samuel Maull contributed to this report.
Isn't it great, we'll pay twice for our imprisonment! 02.Sep.2004 18:40

Migratory Bird

Isn't it time we really refused?

Now we will pay more taxes towards the injustice system. They get us coming and going, so why not celebrate in a big way? Have some cocktails. Or not- you can always go ahead and mail in your money directly to the injustice system, they take so much of it. Like the disguise they put on????

A plea to the "judge" 02.Sep.2004 19:00

Migratory Bird

Order the police to drop charges, judge, if you really want justice. Fine the police department and give it to indymedia! Give it to the protestors! Take the money from the cops budget! Make the descion here and now to not even be idealogical or fair but to try and ease a little of the pain of the sham. Stop the way this is going judge becuase if you don't fight it now you will watch your city taken over... watch it become an open police state. They defied you and your "justice." Becuase you justice was still helping them out! Dontcha see? Cause we do! We do! We do and we let the whole world know!

Just stop participating 03.Sep.2004 11:51

Oni

Just stop paying your taxes. Tell the system that if they're not going to respect your rights and they're not going to fulfill your needs, then you no longer agree to be a part of it. Organize your neighborhood and start your own social programs, grow your own food, build your own roads, don't rely on the system for anything, and they have no reasonable (but definitely a legal one) against you. Non-participation in combination with building your own society is the only way to affect real change.
~ONI