Police Play Part in Anti-Detention Street Theater

THOMAS PAINE PARK, 12:30 PM--Save Our Civil Liberties organized a march and a street theater piece here this morning to protest the "disappearance" and detention of immigrants in the U.S. and the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Cast as the instruments of an oppressive and anti-democratic Bush agenda, the NYPD improvised their own role brilliantly. As ten "prisoners" in black hoods kneeled before a "guard," a young man at the back of the crowd of 400 climbed a tree for a better view. He was ordered down, surrounded by police, dragged off and arrested.

Save Our Civil Liberties produced this piece several times at the DNC with 60 black-hooded performers, and had prepared 100 hoods for this performance, but police would permit only 10 because of the anti-mask law.

As media and protesters took off at a run towards the arrestee, with cries of "Let Him Go!" the Save Our Civil Liberties organizers acted quickly to calm things down, stopping the crowd short. "We have people here with status issues," said one young woman, referring to people without documents who can't risk arrest.

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