After the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia the summer of 2000, Philadelphia police commissioner JohnTimoney was widely hailed in the media as having won the battle of the streets. But what was the cost, and what doesit mean for New York next week? Timoney is now CEO of a private security firm that’s been brought in to help with theprotests in New York.
During the RNC, the police made mass pre-emptive detentions and arrests in order to keep the streets clean ofdemonstrations. But even as the major media wallowed in accounts of Timoney’s “deft” and “restrained” policing,reports of serious civil rights violations and abuse by police mounted. Over 400 protesters were arrested ordetained, along with innocent bystanders, bike messengers, and a photographer for U.S. News and World Report.According to the legal team R2K, the umbrella group that organized the Philadelphia protests, most of those arrestedwere held for over 60 hours before being arraigned on misdemeanor charges that normally would warrant no more than adesk-appearance ticket. Almost all the charges against the arrested protesters were dropped.
In what seems a systematic campaign by the police and city officials to lock up suspected “ringleaders” until afterthe Democratic convention in Los Angeles, Philadelphia prosecutors obtained unprecedented bail of $1 million for twoprominent organizers. One of them is John Sellers, a former Greenpeace activist who is now the director of theBerkeley-based Ruckus Society, which has trained thousands in nonviolent protest tactics. Sellers’ bail was laterreduced to $100,000. Sellers now has a lawsuit pending against the Philadelphia police department. He joins us fromBerkeley.
- John Sellers, director, Ruckus Society.
- Bork, anarchist activist who was arrested during the Republican National Convention in August 2000, andbeaten by police.