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letter from New York

A letter from a law student in New York.
I wanted to let everybody know that I am out of jail and safe. For those who did not know, I was arrested with roughly 250 others for disorderly conduct (violation - below misdemeanor) on Tuesday at 4pm on Fulton St., near the World Trade Center ... next to the cemetery at St. Paul's Church.

I was acting as a legal observer ( http://nlg.org/) and was clearly identifiable as one - not a participant in the march. The protesters were part of a planned "die in" at MSG on 34th St. (40-ish blocks from the WTC). They planned to march peaceably up Broadway. Because email is not safe, I don't want to go into to much detail about the facts, but suffice to say that the crowd of 400 or so were obeying police orders to the T, walking on the sidewalk and not blocking traffic, pedestrian or otherwise. The police led us halfway up Fulton, blocked the sidewalk and all other routes of dispersion and brought out nets. They never gave an order or an opportunity to disperse. The Legal Observers would have - its part of our commitment to the job. They arrested everyone within the nets - grandparents, protesters, legal observers, pedestrians, press and anyone else who happened to be there.

Luckily, there were tons of cameras, press and otherwise, who recorded the entire crock of shit. The Legal Observers got everyone's names and the legal teams are documenting and working on all the cases, including all the thousands of other RNC related arrests this week (fraudulent and otherwise).

They cuffed about 250 of us and brought us to Pier 57 in Chelsea (aka "Guantanamo Pier") where they threw us in huge chain-link cages with razor wire at the top. By the time we left the pier there were well over 1200 arrestees in the cages chanting, singing, shouting. My favorite was "WE WILL, WE WILL, SUE YOU, SUE YOU!!!!" We gave the cops well-deserved hell. People had to sleep and sit on cement covered with oil and other chemicals. Some broke out in rashes. There is litigation pending right now to force the city to close the pier. According to State officials I spoke with later when I was in the tombs (see below), they would not let people from the State Corrections Commissioner's Office in to inspect the conditions. They said they were very concerned and were trying to get in there as soon as possible.

By 2AM a few hundred of us were brought to 100 Center St, aka the infamous "tombs," where we were booked, finger printed (it is likely Disorderly Conduct is a non-fingerprintable offense), photographed, and put in cells for many hours to await either arraignment or a Desk Appearance Ticket. I was held until 8pm the next day - a total of 28 hours in jail - I know that others with whom I was arrested are still in jail as of now!!!! We were not allowed to speak to an attorney or told our charges. We gave them hell in the tombs as well. The Nat'l Lawyers Guild filed a writ of habeas corpus to force the police to release us if we were in there for more than 24 hrs. It is unclear what the outcome was, though apparently the initial judgment was an order to release about 250 by 1am Thursday.

I was given a Desk Appearance Ticket and will be arraigned September 29th for disorderly conduct. I will plead "not guilty." I'd like to see them try to prove this case against us - the arrest was a sick joke

- in truth we were actually arrested for "orderly conduct" and obeying the law. Jail sucked, but we made friends and stuck together and played dodgeball with empty milk cartons. We also harassed the guards and got them to admit how screwed up this all was.

On a serious side, the police have obviously used false arrest tactics to get people off the streets so they cannot use their 1st Amendment Right of Free Speech. If people are in jail, even on false chages, they cannot go out and protest this horrible administration and state of affairs. This arrest, like many others, is a concentrated effort against lawful demonstration and expression of dissent. NYC is a police state right now, and for all the effort the NYPD is putting into protecting us against a terrorist threat, twice as much is being put forth to silence the masses and stifle democracy. If you are not angry, you are not paying attention. This could've been you, a pedestrian walking down the street.

I, along with hundreds of others, will sue for false arrest and possibly other things. I will plead not guilty. I will continue to voice my opinion and protect others who choose to do what is our right by the highest law in the land. They can take our freedom for a time, but we will not be silenced and we will make them pay for what they've done to us by use of the courts.

Fuck George Bush!!! Fuck the RNC police state!!! And most importantly ... fuck the officials of the City and NYPD that made the terrible, stupid, and illegal decisions that led to our arrests.

Thank you for the opportunity to vent and convey my experience. Stay strong and stay tuned for the lawsuit! Feel free to forward this message to anyone who cares to listen. Ben

Here are some articles that might interest you:  http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/08/31/convention.protests.ap/


pagewanted=print&position=  http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/02/politics/campaign/02tactics.html