Mammoth Security Force, Aggressive Police Can't Stop Protestors

Code Pink infiltrates Republican National Convention


| September 2004


NEW YORK -- Activists who had hungered all week for a victory in their cold war against the New York Police Department and the massive security force that engulfed this city like a plague during the Republican National Convention finally notched a couple symbolic wins on its final day.

Outside the gala, anti-Bush protestors gathered at the Criminal Courts Building celebrated judge John Cataldo's decision to hold the city in contempt and fine the NYPD $1,000 for every demonstrator jailed during the week without charges who had not been released by 6 p.m., Thursday. The crowd congregated near Centre Street to show solidarity with their fellow activists who had been arrested for protesting the Convention and held, sometimes for as many as 60 hours in sickly, unsanitary conditions at Pier 57 or in the Criminal Courts Building.

'There was a big crowd of protestors in the courtroom who weren't allowed to cheer because it was a court environment, but after my hearing took about 30 seconds, I turned around and they all gave me a thumbs up and a smile,' said John Cheatwood, an activist who traveled here from Florida and missed his ride home because of his incarceration that lasted almost two days. When Cheatwood exited onto the street he was met by cheers and well-wishers. 'It really helped being in there knowing that all of these people were out here fighting for us. We weren't just forgotten.'

Upwards of 2,000 detainees, some of whom were not protesting, simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and corralled into the NYPD's orange netting during numerous police roundups, were forced to sleep on cement floors reeking of oil, other chemicals, and asbestos in the now infamous pier on the Hudson River, and given mostly stale bologna sandwiches to eat during their ordeal. Many, though, were vegetarians.

The incarcerated found other uses for the paltry food. They reportedly played soccer, using the bologna sandwiches as goalposts and paper cups rolled up into soccer balls. Singing and dancing also helped keep up their spirits.

A lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union explained to the crowd waiting outside the Courts Building for the release of their friends and family that the detainees essentially 'didn't exist' and 'had no rights as citizens' until they were formally charged by the city. Once they regained their rights as citizens, some protestors faced prosecutors for as few as fourteen seconds before they were released onto the street, uncharged.