Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Gitmo on the Platte

Jeralyn sez:

Welcome to Gitmo of the Rockies, or as Denver locals are calling it, Gitmo on the Platte (for the nearby Platte River.)

Denver's CBS4 News reporter Rick Salinger scores an exclusive on Denver's plans for arrested protesters in the event of mass arrests -- as proof, he and his camera people got inside and shot this video before being asked to leave.

The facility is a city owned warehouse.

Inside are dozens are metal cages. They are made out of chain link fence material and topped by rolls of barbed wire.

"This is a secured environment," Capt. Frank Gale of the Denver Sheriff's Department told CBS4. "We're concerned about how that's going to be utilized by people who will be potentially disruptive."

More....

Each of the fenced areas is about 5 yards by 5 yards and there is a lock on the door. A sign on the wall reads "Warning! Electric stun devices used in this facility."

Denver is expected to make an announcement about the facility next week. The ACLU of Colorado has concerns now:

The American Civil Liberties Union says it will ask the City of Denver how prisoners will get access to food and water, bathrooms, telephones, plus medical care, and if there will be a place to meet with attorneys.

As I wrote on 5280 yesterday, Denver courts will be open during the convention, " with lighter dockets to handle convention-related matter."

This is reminiscent of Manhattan's Pier 57 dubbed Guantanamo on the Hudson, during the 2004 Republican convention. It was a fiasco that ended with a judge ordering the release of 470 protesters or face fines of $1,000. per prisoner per day. Here's one detained protester's story. More details of the grimy conditions are in this AP article.

Will Denver make the same mistakes? Hopefully not, but Salinger's discovery is not promising news. There are ways to avoid this, I recapped several from the ACLU report on Pier 57 here.

On a related note, here are my pictures of the Fleet Center in Boston when the Swat Team came out to play.

Just as a reminder of the infamous Manhattan Pier 57 fiasco, my friend Nezua discusses his experience of being one of the RN 1800:
I SOMETIMES MENTION being one of the RNC 1800, and the 50+ hours I spent in jail behind protesting the Republican National Convention in NYC in August of 2004. This was when I was living in Kensington, Brooklyn and commuting through Manhattan to go to work each day in Postcard Town.

I didn't go into the city that day planning on being arrested. I went back to Union Square planning to pick up another upside-down elephant shirt. But it was my fate to run across an anarchist marching band and to put my feet where my heart was. I was furious that the Republicans—who knew damn well that New York was, for the most part, anti-Bush with a fury—would think of holding their expensive and gaudy convention on the same ground where thousands of people were killed, as if the smoldering grave of so many human beings was nothing more than a for-rent billboard upon which they might scrawl their electoral graffiti. I still feel repulsed by the notion.

I didn't plan on becoming part of the nation's first mass-arrest and detention action, where 1800 citizens were swept up in orange nets and held in inhumane conditions for days; where violations that would lawfully merit a summons would instead earn us incarceration in overstuffed pens of fencing and barbed wire. I didn't plan on sitting down in the street, but that was only after the pigs corralled us into a mass of frightened people who had nowhere to go. And don't bother telling me they ain't pigs or that Some Cops Are Nice Doodes™ because I was there. I saw the way they manhandled both men and women. I saw the sneers and hostility on the faces, the sticks they used, the way they stamped on the band's instruments for no reason but because they had the might and nobody could stop them. Sure, there were both friendly and passive cops, as well. Did they differentiate? Did those "nice" pigs let us go? Did they give us a chance to disperse and go home? No. They all wore the same uniform with the same shape badge given power and pay by the same agents. This dark blue mass of sticks, cuffs, helmets and guns swept up protestor, press, bystander, American, foreigner, and people who were unlucky enough to have stopped to watch or who were just shooting photos from across the street. They scooped us all up—nice protestors and otherwise—put us all in riot cuffs that were so tight they hurt at the very least, and cut off circulation at the worst ("sorry, I can't loosen them, I don't have the tools to do that" one said next to me) and kept us in them for hours. So fuck them. I don't differentiate either.

Many of us couldn't understand why they were treating us as if we had committed some violent crime. Why they would put us in such conditions. Why they were locking up people who had nothing to do with the protest, or who were press members, even. We were inclined to think cynically by nature of the demographic, and concluded that they planned it for various reasons, one of which was to keep us off the streets until the Decider (not yet named so) was done with his corpse-exploitation, and his disciples had finished spending their money in our city, leaving confetti and an foul stench of ignorance behind them.

The police department had a code-name for its plan to cope with the invasion of tens of thousands of protesters who were expected to take to the streets during the 2004 Republican National Convention: Operation Overlord II. The name is an apparent reference to the secret plan for the Allied invasion of Normandy, which was codenamed Overlord.

—nysun.com, Operation Overlord II: NYPD Planned RNC Arrests

Yes, "invasion." Because we didn't have the right to protest. Because those who believed a group using a tragic mass-death event in a city that is overwhelmingly liberal for their own political gain didn't have the right to take to the streets and say so. Oye, hermano: I lived in that city when the planes hit and when they locked down the island and when they wouldn't let us move where we wanted. I couldn't sleep at night for days without help. I would fall off sidewalks when I would hear a plane above me, even years later. I breathed those burnt bodies into my own and felt physically ill from it. That shit affected me, man. Bad. Some pretender to the throne idiot manchild wants to grab a bullhorn and make like he's a hero atop a crime still not prosecuted? Some Raskolnikov-sans-conscience wants to prance his fancy ass into my town and hold an election party on a mound of bones and ash and molten steel and you expect me to stay civil? Pah. "Civilized" people will be the death of us all.

But that part about the cops' feelings is true—they didn't feel we had the right. You should have seen la chota. They were horribly offended that we would dare do such a thing. Granted, one of them was a man who gave me a few bites of his apple because I was starving and had been in cuffs for about five hours by then and was losing my mind and needing to pee so bad I couldn't keep quiet about it, and I am hypoglycemic, so when I get hungry it's an event. And the womancop who finally took off my cuffs rubbed my shoulders after I screamed at the sudden release and the cramping of my muscles let go all at once. But the pigs who worked down in the Tombs despised us. They treated us with disdain, ignored medical complaints, wouldn't write them down, and told us we were scum for daring to confront the system in such a way.

As the hours and days went by, and many lawyers put pressure on the city to let us go—and the news began to filter in to our cells that we had massive support, and people in the streets demanding our release—I had the pleasure of leading loud chants from my cell and staring right in the cops' faces as we did it. I'll never forget those moments. They were very satisfying ones.

The city currently faces lawsuits from hundreds of the 1,800 protesters who were picked up in mass arrests and detained for as long as three days at a West Side pier. The police commissioner, Raymond Kelly, has praised his officers for their handling of protesters at the convention.

The document, dated May 2004, is a report detailing the items discussed at an April 27, 2004, meeting of the NYPD Mass Arrest/Prisoner Processing Subcommittee.

"No summonses will be issued," one of the bullet points on the memo reads.

—nysun.com, Operation Overlord II: NYPD Planned RNC Arrests

So now there is proof, it seems, that they never planned on doing anything but arresting us. Oh, shocker. Maybe for the masses that has been debateable or a point of coffee table conversation. (For those who knew about it. We also learned there was a blackout on much of the media from even reporting it at all.) For those of us who stayed up for days because we couldn't sleep on an filthy, oily, bus garage floor (Pier 57), or an overcrowded cell in the Tombs (literally overcrowded, the legal limit was posted outside the cell) it's a "yeah, so?" moment. The cops never once acted as if there was going to be any other option than what happened. It was clearly the act of people who had made plans for the exact situation that unfolded. Yeah, "plans." Sort of like the Iraq Invasion "plans." Where nothing happens the way they thought it would.

Such a policy would appear to contradict what other officials in the police department believed to be appropriate policy. A previously disclosed police document, 'Legal Guidelines for the Republican National Convention,' says desk-appearance tickets and summonses may not be denied merely 'because a person was arrested at a demonstration.'

—nysun.com, Operation Overlord II: NYPD Planned RNC Arrests

Yeah, there may be "proper procedure." There may be "democracy" somewhere. But in gangs like these—Army, Navy, Marines, Police—there are orders that come down from above and that's what is the Deal. This time, there were orders from the Decider and his handlers to get us off the streets. So it didn't matter what any individual Nice Cops® or "law"-abiding cops thought. Just like in a war. You can claim there are Good Soldiers doing the killing and who should be somehow forgiven for their part in the worst of what goes wrong. But I look out and squint at the camo and steel, and hell—I just see killers. To use a popular story, in the fable of God/Heaven/Hell, is there a question form at the gates of Hades where sinners get to declare whether or not they sinned on someone else's orders? I've never heard of that one. When they lock you up in an American jail, does the judge excuse you if someone told you to kill before you took their cash and ideology and did it? Did the judge ask us, when we stood in front of him, whether or not someone told us to protest? Exactly. If there is something that you personally feel is wrong, you don't take part in it. If you are okay with the deal, you stay and participate. Period.

Another document, from June 9, 2004, suggests that the 1,800 arrests from the four-day convention did not exceed the number police had expected to make. This document calls for the development of a "doomsday" plan to be used for processing more than 5,000 arrests. The document, signed by the police department's then-deputy commissioner on counter terrorism, Michael Sheehan, did not indicate whether such a plan was formulated. [...]

Over the city's objections, a fraction of the police documents from the months before the August convention are expected to be made public in the coming days, following a recent ruling that lifted a protective order over them. The New York Sun has obtained several of those documents.

—nysun.com, Operation Overlord II: NYPD Planned RNC Arrests

Good. Let the truth come out. Not that it matters to me at this point. I know what I know. I lived it.

"Operation Overlord II." Interesting analogy they set up with that name. Interesting that they didn't mind being the Nazis in that metaphor.

It's important to have this sort of living history recalled, as Denver threatens to repeat history later this month. I'm sure that in the minds of our plutocrats, the protesters are little more than untermenschen, and concerns about humane treatment thereof would barely register. The city of Denver seems to have taken the gulag theme to heart for the upcoming DNC convention, not only with plans to cage massive numbers of protesters in squalid conditions, but to cage even those protesters not arrested. This, my friends, is the so-called "freedom" that our propagandists love to crow about.

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