07/06/2005: "1% Convicted of 1800 Arrested at Republican Convention in NYC"
1% Convicted of 1800 Arrested at Republican Convention in New York.
Last Summer during the Republican National Convention in New York City. The NYPD, at the behest of Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Republican Governor George Pataki, turned the city into a Police State, arresting 1806 people for Protesting against Bush, and The Iraq War. As a comparison, only 5 people were arrested at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, which was held earlier that summer, according to a story in The Dallas Morning News. Yours Truly H.L. was one of those 1806 people, which you can read all about Here
In the nearly one year since the Police began throwing up nets around hundreds of people at a time, and arresting them all indiscriminately, taking them to a filthy old bus garage with asbestos on the floor, and nowhere to sit, and holding them for up to 3 days. Many of the cases have been adjudicated, and the picture is not pretty for a supposedly liberal city like New York. Only 1 in 10 were convicted of anything, mostly for violations. Guantanamo on the Hudson, as it was named by the hundreds of police who were on duty at the facility on the night of August 31, 2004, was set up by the city, and paid for by the RNC for the express purpose of locking up potential “troublemakers” for the President, before, they did anything; that is if they were going to do anything in the first place.
There was barely an incident on the Sunday before the convention began, when 500,000 people turned out for the largest convention protest in U.S. History. It was a sea of humanity with one thing in common, the goal of ending the Bush reign of terror. The problems began on Tuesday, when un-permitted, marches, and protests took place. 1500 people were arrested and processed through Guantanamo that night, with some people remaining in jail for well over the 24 hours that a judge ruled that the protestors could be held. A recent settlement between Lawyers working pro-bono for the defendants, and the city of New York was reached for $230,000 for the 150 citizens who were kept in lockup for longer.
The Manhattan District Attorneys office reports that 24% of the arrestees had all charges against them dropped, including all 220 people who arrested that afternoon across the street from The World Trade Center, which was the beginning of the night the constitution was suspended in New York. I was amongst that crowd who were told by the NYPD, that the march would be allowed as long we followed the police who were to lead the march, and remain orderly; only to have the police stop the procession after only 1 minute, as 500 cops surrounded the first 220 out of about 1000 people who were there to begin the protest that was to proceed to Union Square, and then on to Madison Square Garden. The members of New York’s finest who surrounded us, pulled out a 5 foot high orange plastic net and held it up so no one could get away, and spent the next 2 hours pulling people out of the penned up crowd one at time, handcuffing them and taking them away.
After spending 19 hours in Guantanamo, and The Tombs, where we were taken in the middle of the night on a separate fun bus ride, I was released and upon returning home to Hollywood, received a personal phone call from Martin Stolar Esq. The President of The New York chapter of The National Lawyers Guild. Mr. Stolar told me that he was very upset with the NYPD, as this was the most outrageous arrest case he had ever heard of; he informed me that he was personally taking the case of all 220 of us arrested at The WTC, which he thought was the most egregious of all the arrests made that week.
The City District Attorneys were offering what were called ACOD’s (Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal which was an agreement not to get arrested in New York for the next 6 months which would result in the case being dropped.) to most of the arrestees when they went for their hearings but Mr. Stolar refused to even consider it for the group arrested at the World Trade Center. . He showed up in court with affidavits for anyone from out of town who could not make the trip each time the city continued the cases, which they did constantly to try to wear defendants down and get them to take the ACOD. After 2 hearings, with no agreement, and a third hearing scheduled, the city dropped all charges against all WTC arrestees.
64% of all arrested agreed to take the ACOD, some were performing acts of civil disobedience when arrested, others were not willing to make the trip back to New York several times to fight the charges. Of the 1670 cases that have been completed thus far, 9% were convicted of violations, the equivalent of a traffic ticket, and only 1% were convicted of a misdemeanor, with 0 felony convictions; 136 cases are still pending. Of the people who have taken their cases to trial, most reported that the police had no evidence, or case of any kind whatsoever, which explains the one percent conviction rate.
Of the roughly 450 people who’s charges were dropped outright, a few have filed individual lawsuits, against the City of New York, on a variety of counts including unlawful arrest, and unhealthy conditions at Guantanamo, the remainder are now involved in a class action law suit.
Our Government must be brought to realize that this is supposed to be a Democracy, with rights of protest given to each and every citizen, the only way to maintain those rights is to fight for them at every turn. The City of New York was taken over by a gang of fascists’ intent on running roughshod over the citizens who were expressing these rights in order to do everything possible to distract negative attention away from the disastrous results that Bush and his cohorts have wrought upon this nation. This fight must be fought constantly if we have any hope of maintaining the liberty that this country was founded on.