Five Statements from Activists, Journalists and Philadelphia Arrestees

Statement #1

Statement of Wendy Dale
Chapel Hill, NC Activist and Philadelphia Prisoner
August 6, 2000

This is Wendy, code name Vera.  I just got back home to Carrboro last night.  I was detained at the Roundhouse in Philly for about 50 hours before I was arraigned and released after giving my name and address.  First of all I would like to say that I experienced brutality at the hands of the Philadelphia police.  I was dragged onto an empty bus by police who did not bother to lift my legs but just lifted me by my plastic handcuffs onto the bus.  As a result of this I have nerve damage in both hands and a nasty cut on my wrist.  Once I was on the bus the police officer dragged me by my hair down the bus aisle as both officers insulted me and yelled in my face.  I feel better now that I am home.

I would also like to let everyone know that I am 99.9% sure that our listserve is being monitored by police.  It is also quite possible that those of us who demonstrated in Philly have FBI files at this point.  While incarcerated, Princess was interrogated and shown her FBI file.  Princess also suffered brutality as she was banged into walls while being dragged by officers.  A female officer also elbowed her in the eye.  She is out of jail now as her brother posted her bail.  Those who have stayed in Philly are working on getting the others out of jail.  I personally intend to work on getting our story out to the media.  The public must know that it was the police and not the protesters who were violent.  Please help me do this by writing to newspapers and e-mailing to the mainstream media.  Thanks.

                                                               In Solidarity,
                                                                Wendy Dale

Statement #2:

Statement of Michael Steinberg 
Durham, NC Activist and Journalist
August 7, 2000

      My name is Michael Steinberg. I live in Durham. I am an activist and journalist with over 20 years experience. I was in Philadelphia on Sunday,  July 30, 2000, for the Unity 2000 March there.

     The Unity 2000 March had a legal permit. Nevertheless there was a very heavy police presence before, during and after the march. Police officers in great numbers were apparent on foot, on bicycles, on motorcycles, in vehicles and in helicopters constantly hovering over us. At various times during the rally that followed the marchówhich was entirely peaceful-- I explored areas nearby and found large numbers of police gathered all about.  I concluded that all day Sunday we were constantly surrounded and under surveillance by the Philadelphia police force.

      Before this experience I attended several meetings in this area for the Philadelphia actions. From these meetings I know that all those who planned to do acts of civil disobedience there attended non-violence trainings, and intended to be entirely peaceful.

      I was immediately impressed with these highly energetic, idealistic and intelligent young people, many of them now or formerly associated with the University of North Carolina, clearly among the best and brightest of their generation. They exuded a contagious hope and strong confidence that they could help bring sorely needed social change to our society and the world at large.

     Reports that these people have been systematically abused in Philadelphia are deeply disturbing. Why are authorities exhibiting criminal behavior towards them in Philadelphia jails not exposed and condemned by the media?

     And it its a cruel irony that in the city where the Declaration of Independence came forth, punitive high bail, one of the prime devices used by the British Empire to suppress American dissent, has been reinstated as we enter the 21st century.

      Equally disturbing is a report that one NC citizen incarcerated in Philadelphia was interrogated, without legal counsel present, and in total isolation, by the FBI. No federal charges have been filed against this or any other person arrested there. The involvement of the FBI indicates that the strategy and tactics employed by authorities in Philadelphia are being coordinated at the highest levels of government.

      Americans know full well that in most US elections the candidates are selected and supported, directed and dominated, by corporate contributors to their campaigns. Thus we see authorities in Seattle, DC, now Philadelphia, and soon LA competing to produce the most perfect police state.

     Just as the US has in other countries bombed those perceived to be a threat to its monied interests, now it is lowering the boom on its own children, who challenge the hypocrisy and corruption of our present undemocratic system. But they are our future, and the future cannot be denied.

Statement # 3

Statement of Dannette Sharpley
Durham, NC Activist
August 7, 2000

We were in Philadelphia for the protests at the RNC, as a part of the social change movement sweeping the world.  People who arenít involved donít understand why, though. They say, "Protesting the Republican and Democrat National Conventions? What kind of thing is that to protest? A convention is just an inevitable political event.  Itís a bunch of politicians doing what politicians do, right? Nothing out of the ordinary; nothing to be alarmed about... This is how our government works after all…"  Taking to the streets is supposed to provide a chance to explain our purpose.  However, federal law enforcement, and local police, in conjunction with national news sources, have launched a smear campaign against the protestor's grievances, making it impossible to offer a coherent explanation.  This defamation of the movement began in Seattle last fall, carried into DC this spring, and now Philadelphia this summer, and will likely continue throughout our mobilization.  As well, they have refused us a platform for relaying our own message, which perverts and defies the intended purpose of media and civil servants alike.   Because of that, I understand why so many people distrust the activists.  So, we will use this platform to try and explain what is taking place and why our political prisoners need your support.

Four years ago, when I voted Clinton The Great, President of the People, back into office, I truly believed that our government was creating a better world for Americans, and by association, most people.  But, like thousands of others, I came to understand a great deal about how this country works since then; and it is alarming. In Philadelphia, we marched and protested in order to demonstrate that not only does "government" not mean what it should, but it means something that decent people can not accept and would not conscience being a part of.

Let's start by dispelling numerous widely held "notions" about our world and how the USA fits. Widely held notion #1: The (global) economy is doing well and improving. Truth: Thanks to inflation, the corporation, the job market, and personal debt, most Americans are doing worse than we were 30, 40, 50 years ago! Our money is worth about 65% of what it was in 1950. 40 million Americans, or 20% of the population, and 1 in 4 children, live in poverty. The Kensington Welfare Rights Union, which coordinated the massive act of civil disobediance on Sunday, proclaims that "everyone has the right to food, clothing, housing, living wage jobs, health care and education", as well as the reality that more and more Americans are finding themselves out of touch with those goals.   You ask yourself: how can 20% of the population be legally destitute, when unemployment is less than 10%? Quick logic: Millions of people have jobs and still canít provide for their families. So, we get two jobs. Or, we get into credit debt, double-mortgages, borrowing; We rent, instead of owning; All to simply try and MAINTAIN the quality of life that 6 and 7-figure folks in Washington think is "standard" for us all!  The economy is booming, sure.  But, where is the money going?  Legislators obviously don't get that the poor and the rest of us are NOT being served by their 6.50 minimum wage.  We all deserve and need better!  So, we took this complaint to the Republicans, and we'll take it to the Democrats a week from now. 

Notion #2: Social spending can explain #1. The government is throwing all the money away on welfare and social security.  Welfare mothers are destroying the union.  Truth: This is just code-language for targetting poor people and minorities.  As a society, we are so ashamed of our intense inequality, that we blame the victims instead of reforming the system!  The federal government spends 130 billion dollars on welfare and other social programs each year. It spends 450 billion on corporate welfare, loaning money to already-wealthy businesses, so that they can get even richer.  So they can get paid to manufacture weapons and sell them!  So that they can produce goods that we canít afford. So that they can set up "sweatshops" in other countries, where they pay even poorer people even worse wages.  Corporate Welfare. 

Government spending is indeed ruining the country: but not the spending on people.  We agree that the current programs don't work, but we can't blame the people for that.  Stop letting politicians slander and scapegoat poor people.   Democrats and Republicans alike have convinced America that the government can either spend a lot, or not, depending upon which one of them you put in the White House.  We want them to know that WE KNOW that the government spends either way, and that WE want to see those investments turn into something more than big military arsenals and private-sector profits.

Widely held Democrat and Republican notion #3.  Our nation is better than all the rest. Truth: Ironically, living in this country is better than in many others, largely because of U.S. influence. Recent protests against the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB), and the U.S. Congress, as well as decades of uprisings against them in other countries, have illuminated the atrocities that CREATE poverty around the globe, and does NOT ELEVIATE it. In May, the Director of the Third World Network told the United Nations that, " There is much talk and conditionality to get transparency and democracy going at the national level, and we NGOs have been part of this campaign in our countries. But the major countries refuse to democratise at the international level, where the global decisions are taken mainly by the G8 or the OECD or the Bretton Woods institutions and WTO, without the adequate participation of smaller nations, let alone the civil society. There has been the great pressures of the rich countries to get the poorer countries to liberalise their economies, but the North practises protectionism when they insist on patenting their technologies, when they practise bio-piracy, when they do not open their doors to labour coming from the South. " 

The reality is that multinationals abandon our job market and produce in countries where itís cheaper. Then, they leave those economies in ruin, by using up all the resources and making it impossible for their businesses to compete.  And, deny their people decent jobs here to survive.  And, when all that havoc is done, they ship the products back to us, since those people obviously canít afford what theyíve created.   Those nations are forced to get obscene loans in order to put their economies back together, and the social infrastructure is often damaged beyond repair.  And, whatís more, the corporations have done it thanks to our government. After all, the conglomeration of giant banks and businesses like the IMF and WB get a third of their funding from Americaís budget!  Even more money comes from America-based companies. And, they get another third from other wealthy nations like Great Britain, Canada, and Europe.  They either get hand-outs, like corporate welfare.  Or, they run the system like one dollar one vote, making it impossible for poorer nations to get fair treatment.  And, we legally sanction their activities?!  Why? Would you support that? 

The American People have to tell Congress to stop financing institutions like the WTO and the WB until they make SWEEPING and EXTREME reforms in how they do business.  We have to make government stand up to these powerful national and international forces that seek to subvert civil liberties for the sake of a quick buck.  This is what we've done in Seattle and DC.  This is what we've attempted to do in Philadelphia.  And, just look at the brutalized and suppressed political prisoners and activists before you to see what this action has cost us.

Notion #4: For better or worse, we have the best system there is. We should just be happy with it. Truth: We can have a much better system. How many of us think there are only two people vying for the job of president? How many people believe that, between Bush and Gore, you will find a person that will address your agenda and needs? How many people think school busing or the past near-impeachment of the president, 2 of the biggest "campaign issues",  are as important as some of the other things we could address? Here's a HUGE issue in the streets of Philadelphia, and all over the country: the prison industrial complex and the "injustice" system of America.  Ask the Repugnicrats about the institutionalized racism that arrests AND convicts blacks 200-300% more rapidly than it does whites.  What about the fact that this same criminal system is rapidly becoming private and for-profit, meaning it makes it's living off of keeping people in prison and NOT turning them into law-abiding citizens.  And, now, they are allowing businesses to put these same prisoners to work, wage-free, to cut down on their commercial manufacturing costs.  This all amounts to modern-day SLAVERY, people! 

And, Bush has presided over 130 legal lynchings, most of them black men, in Texas alone!  Meanwhile, other states are accepting that the criminal system is disturbingly flawed and putting a halt to the death penalty.  The federal court system has already done this, too.  The protestors, as well as millions of Americans, want to see Injustice and Racism out of the criminal system, and Bush and Gore would apparently expand it!

Why donít they display their true characters by talking about what really matters to them? Or if they care, why donít they talk about what really matters to YOU? Why do only Republicans and Democrats get a chance to talk to in broadcast debates? Do you know that there are at least 2 other serious alternatives to Gore and Bush? Among them, Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan.  Candidates that are systematically and undemocratically excluded from national debates year after year.  We saw Ross Perot a few years ago, because he spent a million dollars just to have a seat at the debates.  So, in Philadelphia and LA, we will try to let the Pepublicrats and the corporate owned media know that other presidential candidates deserve a chance to speak to the American people.

These are some of the reasons that we marched and rallied in Philadelphia.  The events ranged from an independent film festival with political documentaries to a silent march for hand-gun control, to a mock wrestling match between Gore and Bush impersonators, a rally around single-payer universal healthcare, a march to end police brutality.  Now, granted, some of us used more aggressive and direct actions to get the media and the police and the government to pay attention.  Nearly half the arrestees did nothing more than walk on sidewalks or hang out in a warehouse with large puppets, and they landed in jail.  Regardless, all this NON-VIOLENT action has gained hundreds of us FBI files, arrest and/or criminal records, battered, bruised bodies, verbal attacks, trumped-up charges, court dates, and so forth. 

So, in the streets, where Philadelphia "reserved" all public space for GOP usage and forced protestors to SUE for the right to demonstrate, we chanted things like, "Hey, hey, ho, ho.  Poverty has got to go", "Ain't No Power Like the Power of the People", "Who's Streets, Our Streets", "Racist Police, No Justice No Peace", "This Is What Democracy Looks Like", and, "What Do We Want?  Healthcare.  When Do We Want It? NOWĒ 

Much of the media and the authorities would have you believe that we protestors hate America. Or that we donít respect Democracy. That we favor some other system better than America. And, indeed, many protestors may. But, pay attention.  The evidenced and honest charge of many is that, in the current system, we have no democracy! We have Republicans and Democrats who fork over half the budget to powerful lobbyists, all-powerful corporations, and "bought governments", at the expense of Americans and poor nations, and call in "free" market Capitalism.  And all the while, you and I are duped into believing our way is the right and only way. That weíve got nothing to complain about.

But, check your bank account. Tune into the global news. Talk to your neighbors, poor people, minorities, women... We all know better than what the Republicrats are telling us. We know that people are hungry. That the environment is suffering terribly. That the whole climate is shifting, as a result of our "progress". That peoplesí; needs arenít being met by hospitals, schools, and insurance companies, especially the poor. That they donít have safe neighborhoods, and police and jail, the IN-justice system, are increasingly more a problem then they are a solution, especially for blacks, hispanics, and latinos. That we donít have the time for families and friends. That the nationís claim to great wealth, though undeniable, isnít reaching our pockets.

And, what of our precious freedom and privilege? If we were so free and privileged, wouldnít we be able to stop all this? Wouldnít be able to stand up and say, "No, we donít want it that way! Weíre not buying your story any more."? Why canít we do that? Whoís stopping us from seeing whatís going on? Whoís stopping us from waging the complaints that we have? Well, as you can see, no one's stopping us.  Weíve had enough. In the long-run, we're searching for candidates and parties and people and institutions that stand for the People. We're getting informed about the world and championing the rights of marginalized people. We're getting to know our communities, dismantling institutionalized racism, sexism, and homophoebia, and building solidarity and unity.  We're putting our lives and our freedom on the line, not just to let the world know what we're about, but to achieve social justice for all.

Statement # 4:

Sunday August 06, @06:58PM
Message from Prisoners at CFCF
By Prisoners at CFCF, forwarded by R2K Legal 

We are 24 male prisoners currently held at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility for our participation or attempted participation in the August 1st non-violent direct actions against the Republican convention in Philadelphia. The carefully choreographed conventions of both major parties have nothing to do with democracy. They are corporate sponsored pageants designed to legitimize a system of corporate class rule that crushes the human spirit and that is destroying the planet. The criminal justice system of cops, courts and prisons that targets poor and working class people in general and people of color in particular is a cornerstone of a system that serves the rich and maintains their rule. Our actions in the streets of Philadelphia were intended to shine a light on the incarceration of 2 million people in the U.S., on the systematic use of police brutality to terrorise whole communities, on the racism and cruelty of the death penalty, on the many political prisoners, including Mumia Abu-Jamal, who are caged for their commitment to social justice. 

Our actions were aimed at disrupting the Republican convention to the best of our ability. While we're sorry any inconvenience we may have caused the people of Philadelphia, we are proud of what we did to expose this rotten system. From the moment of our arrest we have experienced and witnessed the workings of a system designed to dehumanize people. Many of us were brutalized in the course of arrests. Some of us were beaten or peppersprayed after we were handcuffed. In jail as many as nine people were packed into cells designed for two people. People with dietary restrictions went without food for up to 48 hours. In some cases our hands and feet were cuffed together and some of us had our cuffs so tight that we lost feelings in our hands or bled as a result.

We were denied the opportunity to meet with our lawyers prior to arraignment and were arraigned in a court room closed to the general public with the exception of select members of the capitalist media. We were arraigned with a court appointed public defender serving as counsel despite our explicitly and repeatedly stated desire to be represented by our own counsel who were denied access to the proceedings. We were charged with a variety of misdemeanors and in a few cases with felonies. Our individual bails have been set at between $10,000 and $1,000,000. Many if not all of the charges against us are either greatly exaggerated or completely falsified.

At Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility [County Jail] we have been placed in a special pod where we have little contact with other prisoners. While we regard our conditions here as dehumanizing we recognise that we are receiving special treatment such as extra food. So far we have not been beaten or physically hurt by personnel here.

Throughout this process we have sought to resist and stand in solidarity with each other to the best of our abilities. Almost all of us have refused to give our names. Many of us have had to be physically dragged through the various stages of this process. We have kept our spirits high through singing and chanting and pounding on our cell walls. We developed systems for communicating with each other and for reaching decisions by consensus. Many of us ripped the bracelets intended to identify us off our wrists. We resisted fingerprinting and attempts to photograph us. Some of us have refused food. In jail we stripped naked to make our processing more difficult. In the course of all this we have discovered strengths we never knew we had and have built a wall of solidarity based on profound love and respect for each other. We have drawn particular strength from the proud defiance of the sisters whose loud voices we have heard and whose acts of resistance we have occasionally been able to witness. While our access to information is restricted we are aware of the efforts of those on the outside to assist us. We love you all. We are in here for you and know that you are out there for us.

We believe that our experiences so far strongly vindicate us in our decision to take powerful action to expose the brutality and injustice of the so-called criminal justice system. As we go through this process we are learning personally of the mistreatment people experience every day in this country. As a group of mainly white and mainly middle class men we know full well that the treatment routinely received by poor people, people of color, and other marginalized people is much worse than what we have received.

While we have had little contact with other prisoners, that contact has been overwhelmingly positive, they know why we are here and they let us know in many ways that they support our actions and respect our commitment and solidarity. In turn we are learning from them about the workings of the prison and their own traditions of resistance. They have our respect, admiration and solidarity. So far the efforts of some personnel to cultivate distrust and antagonism between us and the other prisoners have failed.

We are political prisoners: We are being held on outrageous charges, in many cases with no foundation whatsoever in our actual actions; Our bail figures are far out of proportion even for the crimes we are falsely accused of; We are here because of our political commitment and because we dared to defy the corporate powers that be as they were attempting to give a veneer of popular support to the rule of the few.

We call on those who support us to continue to put pressure on the Philadelphia authorities to win our quick release. We urge you all to continue to organize protests on our behalf and to write and call the mayor's office, the prosecutors and the prison authorities to demand: 1.Our immediate and unconditional release on our own recognizance 2. That all charges be dropped and 3. That prisoners with dietary restrictions (vegans and vegetarians) be provided with adequate food that they can eat.

Call these officials and let them know that you support our demands: District Attorney Lynne Abraham 215-686-8701 Mayor John Street 215-686-2181 City Solicitor Ken Trujillo 215-683-5003

30 of us have gone on hunger strike to win these demands. We want everyone to know that we are in good spirits and remain strong in our solidarity. We come from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives, but we are united in our commitment to genuine democracy and an end to corporate rule in general and to the criminal injustice system in particular.




Write to us:

John Doe "JD" Professor John Doe ODB John Doe Wolfman John Doe 6010 "Dinger" John Doe "That's not good for business" John Doe Slick

Camilo Viveiros Jr.
John Doe 6013
Christopher Hartley
John Doe Mac
John Doe Mango
John Doe "B.A."
John Doe Sparky
John Doe Flea
John Doe "Hank H. Parts"
John Doe "Wisp"
John Doe Tennessee/Jimnikov
John Doe Buckshot
John Doe GOD
John Doe Switchblade
John Doe Ms. Pac Man
John Doe Zeke
JD Lovebug
J.D. Kowbone


Statement # 5:

Torturous Conditions in Philly Jails 
By Amy (Amethyst) 

The group that I was arrested with was kept on a bus for 5 hours that had windows that only went down about 2 inches. It was in the 80s outside and in the 90s at least on the bus. We were given only 2 "squirts" of water during that time. 

We were left in handcuffs for about 6 hours. The cuffs were so tight that people were bleeding and our hands were swelling. Once we were in the "Roundhouse" (the jail) we were placed 7 or 8 per cell. The cells are 5 1/2 by 6 feet. 

These overcrowding conditions were still happening when I left. The temperatures inside were extremely cold the first few nights but we were denied blankets and people's long-sleeved shirts were taken away. After the first few days they seemed to crank the heat and it became extremely warm. 

One woman on our cell block was in solitary (same type of 5 1/2 by 6 foot cell but with plexiglass covering the bars except for the bottom foot or so). We screamed and chanted for her to be let out of solitary (one of our demands) and in retribution the cops stuck 9 more people in her cell. (This coincided with when the heat seemed to be turned up). 

People were complaining that they could not breath but the guards refused to let them out for what seemed to be several hours. People are being denied medical treatment. 

Meals consist of a cheese or peanut butter sandwich which is given only twice per day at random times. They seemed to be trying to break people mentally by keeping us constantly awake so the sandwiches would often be delivered at weird times like 3 a.m. 

They were also trying to play people against one another by only delivering a few peanut butter sandwiches or allow 1 person per cell to have a phone call hoping we'd start fighting with one another. (But we didn't--people are really taking care of each other). 

Almost everyone was denied a phone call. In 4 days I wasn't allowed to make one. 

We were denied legal representation from R2K. When one person fired the public defender and asked for a R2K lawyer her bail was doubled. There were people in a holding room outside the regular cell blocks who were able to use the phones but on Wednesday afternoon the phones were turned off and we were able to hear guards in the men's cell blocks saying things like "Stand up and walk like a man, bitch" following by crashing sounds, screams and the guard saying "You think that one hurt?" 

I witnessed several episodes of people being dragged, cuffed wrist to ankle and being slammed into walls, doors and file cabinets. There were also several people I saw who were having their fingers and arms twisted, were being choked and were having their toes stomped on by guards. 

At the Roundhouse the men and women are able to communicate through the walls and we sang and chanted in support of one another. 

People are also doing an amazing job taking care of each other. (And the jail support group is doing an awesome job on the outside). But the media in Philly are all reporting on what an excellent job the cops are doing and the media elsewhere are ignoring the situation entirely. 400+ people arrested and most of the people in the country don't even know it happened, which is why it is so important that everyone call the numbers below from the email I'm forwarding. And try to think of some other tactics as well. I'm too fried to think of any ideas but I hope that you will be able to. I'm sorry that this is written so incoherently but I needed to get the word out before I can rest. 

Please email me back if you have any questions. PLEASE do something about this!!!!!!!!!! 

Amy (Amethyst) 

Contact Numbers for Philadelphia Authorities

Chief of Police, John Timoney, (215) 686-3280, fax (215) 925-0738 

Mayor John Street, (215) 686-2181, fax (215) 686-2180 
Mayor's Office - Complaints (215) 686-3000 
--Private Criminal Complaints (215)686-9863 
--D.A. Lynne Abraham (215)686-8703, 686-8700, fax(215)563-0047 
--Mayor's Chief of Staff Stephanie Franklin-Suber (215)686-7508, fax(215)686-5223 
--Cook, Assistant to Chief of Police (215)686-3388 
--John Galligher, Assistant to Chief of Police (215)686-3022 
--Captain Fisher, Civil Affairs (215)685-3684 
--Deputy Commissioner Mitchell (handles demonstrations) (215)686-3364 
--Chief Maxwell, Head of Detectives & Criminal Investigation, (215)686-3362 
--City Solicitor Ken Trujillo (215)683-5003, fax(215)683-5068, ktrujillo@a... 
--Thomas Costello Commissioner (215)685-8201