Released Dallas activist recounts jail abuses By Cliff Pearson
Dallas County Green Party and Dallas Progressive Action League members Scott, his wife Ann, and their 16 year-old son Milo, as well as Kendall Clark and Cliff Pearson (all of Dallas, Texas), traveled to Philadelphia to join the national protest of the Republican National Convention. (Scott, Ann and Milo prefer not to have their last names publicized as of yet). Scott, Ann, and Milo all went to Philadelphia in their van. Kendall went with them. They arrived in Philadelphia on Friday night, July 28, 2000. I (Cliff Pearson) arrived by plane Saturday night and Kendall and Ann met me at the airport and we rendezvoused with Scott and Milo at the organizers' Convergence Center. We ate, talked, met people, and planned activities.
Scott, Ann, Milo, and three Greens from San Antonio - who prefer not to be identified yet - were arrested Tuesday afternoon along with 13 other activists in Scott's van. The van was impounded.
Kendall and I were not arrested. I am back home, but Kendall is still in Philadelphia working for the unconditional and immediate release of all the arrested activists, trying to get everyone out, call everyone's emergency contacts, coordinate with legal support, get Scott's van out of impound, and basically just get everyone home.
Scott, Ann and Milo were transporting the other 16 people in their van to the scene of an area to protest. Kendall and I were going to be support people for the group. Kendall and I were supposed to rendezvous with the group at the Greyhound bus station at 3:00 p.m., at which point we would go to the scene of the protest (two blocks away) and perform the action we had planned. The group never showed up.
Finally, at 3:30 p.m., Kendall got a phone call on his cell phone. It was Scott. He told Kendall that 15 Philadelphia State Police officers had surrounded his van and arrested everyone in it. The 19 had not committed any crimes or actions of any kind. They were not anticipating arrest.
Kendall and I immediately started calling the emergency contact numbers the group of 19 had given us. We also called legal support and everyone else that needed to know what was happening. I concentrated on the mainstream and alternative media.
Because I needed to be back at work Wednesday morning, I left that night. Kendall stayed.
All day on Tuesday, August 2, the police stopped and frisked everyone that looked - as they called us - "suspicious." Kendall says he was stopped and frisked about eight times while walking around trying to get information about our arrested friends on Wednesday. At one point, his finger was bent back when he was slammed against a wall and frisked by police officers. He thought it was broken but it wasn't, it was only bruised.
Scott got out of jail at 7:30 this morning (Thursday, August 4, 2000). He is being charged with numerous felonies. He doesn't remember what they all are, but he says they are trumped up, ridiculous charges.
He says that his son Milo was with him the whole time he was in jail and is still in jail. Scott says the jail cells are filthy and small and the guards are putting people in them 4-7 to a cell. Scott says there were at least 200 people where he was, in the jail they call the "Roundhouse."
Scot's wife Ann, and son Milo, are still in jail - as are the vast majority of the arrested activists. Scott says that over 1,500 activists converged today on the jail in solidarity protests to demand the immediate release of all the arrested activists.
Ann got a message to Scott via the Legal Support Team of the R2K Network. She says she is very scared and tired, but that she is going to remain in "jail solidarity" with all the others, as is Milo.
Scott says he was told that Ann and Milo will be held in jail until they post $25,000 cash bond. They will not be released Friday as we were originally told. They are going to be held until they make bail, or go to trial, whichever comes first.
Despite denials by the Philadelphia police to some Green Party members from Houston and me, Scott has confirmed the civil and human rights abuse stories. He says none of the prisoners were given food for 14 hours. He says they never had bathroom breaks. He was told by jail guards that an ACLU lawyer came to represent the arrested activists at their arraignment hearings, but that he was not allowed to meet with any of the arrested activists.
Scott says that asthmatics and diabetics were not allowed to have their medicines. He told me that one diabetic woman became sick and passed out from not having had her medicine, and that the arrested activists had to chant for several hours before the nurse finally came to check on her.
Scott made clear to me that he wants everyone to know that there is "some serious solidarity going on" in the jail. Scott says that every time an abuse was witnessed or something was done that violated their civil and human rights, that they did a sit-in strike or a human chain to nonviolently resist their abuse.
Scott says that some of the worst abuses he saw were that many of the arrested activists were stripped naked and left this way for hours.
Most of the abuses, according to Scott, were verbal. He says the jail guards repeatedly called them "faggots" and "sissies" among other things. (No racial slurs though, thankfully.) He says they were threatened numerous times with being transferred from jail to prison where they'll be "anally raped" unless they do as told.
Scott has spoken with between 15 and 20 media representatives, mostly - but not exclusively - from the mainstream media. He spoke with the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram just a few hours ago. The Dallas Morning News reporter, who is in Philadelphia, told me that he saw the arrests of Scott and 75 others at the "puppet space" and that the arrests were "total bullsh*t." His words. Let's hope his editors don't kill his story.
So what exactly happened? Scott says that there was, indeed, a police infiltrator in the planning group as we originally thought. Scott says that there were actually three undercover police officers in our affinity group's planning meetings. (One of them was indeed the guy I thought was a cop.) Scott says that two of the police infiltrators were identified in Philadelphia media reports.
The other one was driving Scott's van at the time they were stopped and impounded. Scott says that the driver was supposed to go a certain route but didn't. He passed the turn he was supposed to make, and drove instead right into a crowd of 15 Philadelphia State Police officers. The driver was then taken off in a police car by himself, and Scott never saw him again.
Other suggestions of police infiltration include the Monday night disappearance of Kendall's laptop computer from the YMCA where we were staying. Nothing else was stolen. An Independent Media Center photojournalist awoke to discover all her film stolen - but not her camera - on the same day.
Scott says he doesn't know when he's going to come back to Dallas because he's still trying to get his van out of impound, and work for the immediate and unconditional release of all the arrested activists.
A nationwide movement has begun to demand that Philadelphia authorities: unconditionally release all the prisoners, drop all charges on all the arrested activists - including the felony charges and the charges against those that have already been released, cease separating and isolating some of the prisoners, allow full access to health care including medicines; food and restrooms, and allow the attorneys to meet with the arrested activists.
Cliff Pearson reporting, Dallas Progressive Action League, Dallas, Texas.
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