PHILADELPHIA, August 3—Unity 2000 leaders are accusing the Philadelphia police of mistreating people arrested during protests at the GOP convention this week. In a press conference held today near the Roundhouse, Philly’s jail, Unity 2000 officials said that of the 400 to 500 people arrested so far, most are still in cells, awaiting arraignment. Bail so far runs from $15,000 to, in one instance, a reported $450,000 in one instance. Most demonstrators have been charged with misdemeanors, though the Unity 2000 legal team reports that certain individuals carrying radios or cell phones when arrested face charges of crminal conspiracy.
Unity 2000 is reporting that police have hog-tied some prisoners in the cells so that they cannot move. Others have been denied medication, and women have relayed messages that they have been denied access to the bathroom. Other reports say prisoners are given food and water only at 14-hour intervals. There are unconfirmed reports of prisoners being dragged, leaving trails of blood.
In a phone call at 1:30 this morning, Rebecca Hill, a New York City graduate student, told her stepmother, Penny Hill, that she was being held in a five-by-seven cell with five others in Roundhouse. Hill said jailers have been providing two cheese sandwiches and iced tea per day. Some of her cellmates were badly hurt, Hill said, including one woman with an open gash to the head. The woman had not received any medical attention. The women had been held with no outside contact since Tuesday, when they were arrested. They have not been arraigned, and no have charges been filed. Hill said there is talk of bail being set at $15,000.
This morning the Philadelphia Inquirer, in two news columns,congratulated the policefor tireless restraint and vigilance, noting that the cops had performed top-flight intelligence work before the convention by eavesdropping on chat rooms and building portfolios on activists. According to the Inquirer, what appeared to out-of-town visitors as a virtual melee Tuesday in Center City was in fact a carefully choreographed script. And at a press conference yesterday, police commissioner Timoney, the Inquirer reported, “appeared wan but confident.”
“I’ve been in this business 33 years,” Timoney told the public. “I’ve seen lots and lots of demonstrations. I have never, ever seen officers more cool, more calm, more self-assured.”
Buried in the Inquirer story was this comment from an irate cop who said the demonstrators were squirting liquids in the faces of police officers: “You can’t react, but it pisses you off,” the officer said. “I hope they really nail a lot of those guys who did that. And you know a lot of them aren’t from around here. They probably live with Mommy and Daddy in some $250,000 house in Connecticut and don’t have anything better to do. I just wish I could kick their asses.”