Police prepare to enter "anarchist" site; protesters block city streets

Chuck0 chuck at tao.ca
Tue Aug 1 13:49:57 PDT 2000

Funny, didn't the Philly cops recently state that they didn't infiltrate groups?

The best coverage of events can be found at: http://www.phillyimc.org/

============== Police prepare to enter "anarchist" site; protesters block city streets

At 3:30 p.m., a large group of officers are attempting to enter a warehouse in West Philadelphia being used by protesters.


Confrontations between police and protesters occurred in scattered locations in the city this afternoon.

In West Philadelphia, Philadelphia police were preparing to raid a large warehouse this afternoon after receiving information that an anarchist group was making preparations to disrupt rush-hour traffic.

Also, protesters were blocking traffic on at least two Center City streets.

More than 200 police officers surrounded the building in West Philadelphia, a large brick warehouse at 41st Street and Haverford Avenue in the city's Powelton section.

Deputy Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson said a search warrant for the site was on its way.

Occupants of the building denied they planned a disruption and said they were only making puppets. As the standoff went on, occupants inside the building hung out a banner reading, "Puppeteers Ain't a Crime - Free the Haverford 70."

"Every time we do something they don&'t approve of, they shut us down," said James McGinness, a member of a group called Nuce News.

Police also sought a search warrant to examine the contents of a van in the 600 block of North Brooklyn Street, nearby.

Police suspected the van was filled with "sleeping dragons" - large pipe-like devices that protesters use, linking hands inside the pipes, to create human barricades.

Police said they had infiltrated the group, but declined to elaborate.

Meanwhile, shortly after 4 p.m., at 13th and Arch Streets, about 30 people are blocking traffic as police stand by. The protesters are sitting in the middle of the street with their arms linked.

At the same time another group of protesters were laying down on the on-ramp for the Vine Street Expressway off of 16th Street. Police are standing by there, too.

The raid and traffic blockages followed a quiet day of protests after Monday's march down South Broad Street by anti-poverty demonstrators.

Two arrests were reported near 10th and Filbert Streets in Center City. Police said the two men taken into custody there were armed with a sling shot and spray paint.

Still to come was the highlight protest of the day - a march against the death penalty, scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Supporters of death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal were expected to join that event and possibly stage some direct actions.

Appearing at a rally against the death penalty in Old City, the Rev. Jesse Jackson used Abu-Jamal as a symbol of how the criminal justice system is flawed and how innocent people can be executed.

"We don&'t want police to be shot, we don't want civilians to be shot, we don't want anyone to be shot, but we also don't want reasonable doubts to be ignored," he said.

Reiterating his support for Vice President Al Gore in the presidential campaign, he acknowledged that Gore supports the death penalty, but said the Democratic Party has room "for civil debate."

Earlier in the day, only a handful of protesters turned up for a rally challenging immigration laws.

"Maybe they just looked at the weather and decided not to come," said Sgt. Steve Naughton, a civil affairs officer, as police waited for the anti-immigration group to appear. About 40 eventually did.

Elsewhere, small groups gathered to talk about issues including tobacco, campaign finances and abortion. But overall, the city was quiet.

The quiet streets were in contrast to yesterday, when police officers, followed by Commissioner John Timoney on a bicycle, cleared the way for demonstrators from the Kensington Welfare Rights Union.

The group achieved its twin goals: Marching on Broad Street and massing within sight of the First Union Center, where the Republican National Convention is being held, for chants about homelessness, poverty and economic disparity.

Police commanders, negotiating with protest leader Cheri Honkala as her ragged caravan lurched down Broad Street, deftly but firmly herded hundreds of protesters into a fenced city park well away from the secured grounds of the convention center.

Yesterday's marchers fell into line, literally, after Timoney made a crucial decision: Let them march on the street, even without a permit.

"I'm not happy that people went out on Broad Street and blocked traffic, but I can live with it," Timoney said at mid-day, standing in the middle of Broad Street. "We think the event went pretty good." Timoney estimated the crowd at 1,500 to 2,000 at its peak. A KWRU spokesman put the number at between 700 and 1,000.

Almost four hours into the march, a punishing sun and oppressive humidity had left the demonstrators so fatigued that they managed only to raise limp banners and listen to a few weary speakers at FDR Park.

<< Chuck0 >>

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