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2004-09-02

Making Protest Painful: Detained RNC Protesters Held in Crowded, Oil-Contaminated Conditions

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Hundreds of detained protesters remain in a holding facility in New York despite a judge’s order to release them. We speak with one of those freed: Matt Daloisio, a member of the New York Catholic Worker who was arrested at a protest at Ground Zero. [includes rush transcript]

Protests against the Republican convention continued yesterday throughout New York City. The police arrested 19 people in separate incidents, bringing the total of those detained so far during seven days of relentless convention-related protests to more than 1,760–a record for a political convention.

Hundreds of people protested the conditions under which those arrested are being held before going to court saying the site was contaminated with oil and asbestos. Pier 57 is a three-story, block-long pier that has been converted to a holding pen.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has denied the city was operating what some called "Guantanamo-on-the-Hudson." And defended the use of the of the pier garage saying "It’s not supposed to be Club Med."

Last night, a judge ordered protesters who had been held for 24-hours released with desk appearance tickets if they were not charged with serious crimes. Before midnight, some protesters started emerging from 100 Centre St. around the block from our firehouse studio. Some 200 supporters greeted them with cheers and offered food and medical treatment. Despite the judge’s orders, a large number of protesters remain imprisoned.

  • Matt Daloisio, a member of the New York Catholic Worker. He was arrested on Tuesday afternoon at a protest at Ground Zero.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Yesterday at a union rally, I spoke with a representative of the transit workers’ union that Roger Toussaint heads. He says they long used it as a bus depot in lower Manhattan, but there was a major fire there ten years ago. they couldn’t finish the asbestos abatement. It really hasn’t been used for human, in all of this time. Now more than 1,000 people have been held there. Last night, a judge ordered protesters who have been held for 24 hours released with desk appearance tickets if they weren’t charged with serious crimes. Before midnight, some protesters started emerging from 100 Center Street, which is just around the corner from our firehouse studio. Some 200 supporters greeted them with cheers and offered food and medical treatment. Despite the judge’s orders, a large number of protesters remain in prison. Matt Daloisio got out of jail yesterday afternoon. A member of the New York Catholic Worker, he was arrested at Ground Zero. What were you doing at Ground Zero?

MATT DALOISIO: We were trying to dramatize the effects of Bush’s preemptive foreign policy and we ended up being preempted by the New York City police in a policy of preemptive arrests.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you marched from ground zero to remember the dead after 9/11 in Afghanistan and Iraq, and they arrest you before the action even took place?

MATT DALOISIO: About three minutes into our walk, we were stopped by a line of police, surrounded by police on bicycles and then we were wrapped in an orange fence and told we were under arrest. It was a large net they cast. We had a Republican delegate in with us and members of the media. In within two hours, there were over 250 people arrested.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Now, this is after you negotiated with the police to actually start the march. They gave you the go-ahead.

MATT DALOISIO: Correct they have given us the go ahead. We were proceeding, trying not to block traffic, which we were successful until the police stopped us. At which point the crowd swelled and they surrounded us and told us we were blocking traffic.

AMY GOODMAN: What was it like at Pier 57?

MATT DALOISIO: Pier 57 was sort of a rough scene. There was oil on the floor. There were large pens. By the time we got there at 6:30 p.m., all of the pens started to fill. For about four hours, there was a constant flow of buses coming in non-stop with people coming off. The spirits among the activists were very high. A lot of cheering for people coming in, at the same time we were trying to deal with the conditions we were in. Some people were experiencing rashes from sitting on the floor the residue of oil that was on the floor.

AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you for being in right now, and welcome out Matt Daloisio.

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