The bold parts are mine.
AMY GOODMAN: Hundreds of people protested the conditions under which those arrested are being held before going to court, saying the site is contaminated with oil and asbestos. Pier 57, where they are being held, is a three-story block-long pier that has been converted to a holding pen.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Yesterday morning we received a call from one of the protesters being held at pier 57 who had smuggled a phone inside. Detainees passed the phone to each other and described the conditions of the holding facility. Democracy Now! producer Mike Burke took the call and spoke with the detained protesters. Listen closely. After the first caller passes the phone, you can hear a prisoner in the background calling out for help and medical assistance.
EMILY: My name is Emily. I was arrested yesterday off of Union Square East, on East 15th Street in between Union Square East and Irvine. [sic] I was on the sidewalk, and I was never told that I would be arrested. I was just on the sidewalk. And no one ever read me my rights. They just took us all away. They trapped us and put us all into buses. We’ve been in jail for over 13 hours right now. In our first nine hours, the only food we received was an apple. In our first four hours here we weren't allowed to go to the bathroom or get water. So none of us were read our rights; we haven't been able to talk to any lawyers. A lot of people here that were arrested without even protesting, they were -- just happened to be on the sidewalk where everyone was on that block -- was arrested.
And there are chemical warning signs all over this place that we’re being held. A lot of people are forming rashes on their skin from the floor -- from whatever it is that is on it. And I’m going to pass this on to someone else who has another story.
VOICE SHOUTING IN THE BACKGROUND: I need medical attention!
ALTHEA: My name is Althea and I was -- am a New York City public school teacher. I was out on Union Square on 16th Street between Irving and Union Square just walking, trying to enjoy the day, and I got swept up in a demonstration. I wasn't a part of the demonstration and I was arrested. I was arrested about 8:00 p.m., handcuffed and we’ve been sitting in the Chelsea piers in very crowded conditions. Right now some people are experiencing toxic reaction to the environment, itching in their skin, and we’re very crowded. We have been given water and a sandwich, but they have not been giving us any information, and we’ve just been sitting here really penned in.
MIKE BURKE: Have you been able to communicate to any of your family or friends about your situation?
ALTHEA: No, I haven't. I have been asking my arresting officer when can I make a phone call? And no one knows where I am. Basically I feel like I’ve been ‘disappeared.’ Nobody knows in my family that I have been arrested. And I was out by myself shopping; so, you know, there's no one to -- they haven't allowed me to contact anyone.
VEEPA MAJAMUTAR: Hi. This is Veepa Majamutar. I'm calling also from the arresting facility. Basically I was just a stand-by and I was walking on the sidewalk and there was a march going on. They cordoned off the whole street and just arrested all of us. When I tried to explain that I was just walking by -- I had a receipt from a store that I had bought something from on that street. They did not pay any attention. And here we are sitting in this almost a human-rights abuse conditions. So many of us are cold. We are freezing. Some of us need medical attention; but nobody's telling us what to do. Nobody's listening to us. Nobody’s giving us any timeline, any idea of when we might get out. They’ve always been saying ‘Next two hours. Two hours.’ It's been more than 12 hours now.
MIKE BURKE: Could you describe what you were doing just before you were arrested?
VEEPA MAJAMUTAR: What was I doing?
MIKE BURKE: Yes.
VEEPA MAJAMUTAR: Basically I was just – I was walking on the sidewalk. I didn't even know that there were police and the march was going on. And all of a sudden the street basically just gets cordoned off and we cannot move. So before I was arrested I was just standing still because that's all we could really do. And then they just started putting handcuffs on people. They didn't tell us, please leave otherwise we’ll arrest you. They gave us no warning. They gave us no chance to leave.
They just basically closed off the street, put handcuffs, and took us. They did not listen to anybody. They did not listen to even pure reason. They just put us off. We thought we would basically get out in a couple of hours if we had done nothing. But here we are 12 hours later and, basically, almost ridicule us. They ridicule us if we start to complain. And the condition here are atrocious. You have to see them to believe it. It's dirty. It’s smelly. It’s filthy. We don’t have a blanket. We don't have something to sit on. We are sitting on the floor. There's dirt on the floor. There’s oil on the floor. There’s chemicals around us. It's smelling bad. I could go on and on. It’s atrocious.
MIKE BURKE: Could you describe what kind of room you are in? It sounds like there are many, many people in the same room.
VEEPA MAJAMUTAR: We are like a hundred – a hundred people in a very small room. It's surrounded by fence and we are like -- it's almost like rats in a hole. I mean, there's nothing, there is just a floor which is very dirty, which is a lot of oil and all dust in it, I mean, all our clothes are dirty our hands are ditty. We had to eat an apple with our extremely dirty hands because we have no tissue paper, nothing to clean our hands with. We are just basically packed. Nobody can sit down. They don't even give us a plastic bag to sit on. They don't even give anything to lie down on. We just have to lie on the hard floor, basically. And there is not enough space for everybody to lie down because we have to sit so close together. It's cramped. And we were freezing before and people were actually coughing, they were getting cold and nobody paid any attention, nobody gave them even a blanket nobody gave them even a plastic bag to cover themselves with.
JANET: My name’s Janet and I was arrested last night. I was actually on the sidewalk. We were having a party in the street, we were dancing a little bit and then the cops started to pen us in, so we moved onto the sidewalk and there was a lot of us crammed into a small space. They did not give us an order of dispersal. Instead, they just smashed us all together; and they started -- at first they were picking people out and smashing their heads on the sidewalks. I couldn't really get a good look of that because I was in the back being like crammed between a wall and a bunch of people. Then they slowly, slowly, slowly broke us off and put us on the buses. We were on the buses for a really long time. Now we are in a holding cell. It's been probably more than 12 hours. It's been about 13 hours. They just told me when I got medical attention that there's -- they arrested 1100 people last night and we’re all still in here. It's totally nasty. The floor is greasy. There are signs everywhere saying we should be wearing masks and goggles; and I have this really bad rash on my hand that's getting worse and worse. It feels like I just stuck my hand in an oven, it burns so bad, and my arms are tingling and my other hand is getting it, too.
I spent a really long time trying to let them get me out of here so I could at least wash my hands and put some ice on it. Finally my arresting officer came and she took me over there and there's a doctor and a nurse in this office and they didn't have a sink for me to wash my hands; but they let me pour saline solution over my hand into a garbage can and then rub some hand-sanitizer on my hands. My hands are so black and dirty from how gross it is in here that I couldn't even get them clean. Then they gave me a wet tissue to put on it. Basically they couldn't really do anything for me. They told me to put some hydrocortisone cream on it, which isn't very helpful because I’m in here. And now I am just sitting back in a cell with everybody else. They’re not really telling us what's going on. It seems like we’re going to be in here for a really long time.
AMY GOODMAN: Phone calls from jail. Voices of protesters detained inside pier 57. New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has denied the city's operating what some have called Guantanamo on the Hudson, defended the use of the pier garage, saying, quote, it's not supposed to be Club Med.
Anger over tactics
Protesters, lawyers decry methods used to round up demonstrators and hold them; mayor says it's not supposed to be 'Club Med'
By GRAHAM RAYMAN, LINDSAY FABER, DAN JANISON, DARYL KHAN, STEPHANIE SAUL, KAREN FREIFELD, WIL CRUZ, SEAN GARDINER and MARSHAND BOONE
September 2, 2004
Civil liberty lawyers and protesters yesterday criticized police tactics and the use of Pier 57 to hold detainees in the aftermath of chaotic demonstrations Tuesday that resulted in nearly 1,200 arrests.
But Mayor Michael Bloomberg lauded police conduct and defended the use of the pier garage, saying, "It's not supposed to be Club Med."
So many people were taken in Tuesday that the pier filled to capacity by 8 p.m., detainees said. Officially, 1,191 people were arrested - a record for one borough in one day - for a convention total of 1,763. About half of the detainees received desk appearance tickets, court officials said.
Last night, Manhattan Criminal Court Judge John Cataldo ruled that people charged with violations had to be presented for arraignment within 24 hours or given appearance tickets. Officials had until this morning to arraign those charged with misdemeanors or felonies.
"There never have been so many people arrested ... in the history of our 80 political conventions in the United States," said Tom Hayden, the former California legislator and '60s-era activist who was a defendant in the Chicago Seven trial stemming from the 1968 Democratic convention.
Indeed, author Jules Witcover noted in a 1997 book that there were 650 arrests during the '68 convention, which included violent clashes between police and protesters on a scale not seen at this convention.
Despite the pre-convention warnings, there were no reports of major vandalism or serious injuries here Tuesday. By and large, protesters could not cite widespread instances of police using pepper spray or using their riot sticks as clubs, though there was pushing, shoving and tackling.
Donna Lieberman, director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said police have unveiled three tactics this week that have raised concerns: quick deployment of orange netting to encircle protesters, undercover scooter patrols and widely used bicycle officers.
"The concern is the arrests are pre-emptive," she said. "You catch innocent people in those nets. Sometimes they are pulled out. But lots of people who shouldn't be getting caught up in the first place are getting snared."
"It's clear at this moment whatever civil rights were left in New York City after the Republicans came to town were violated yesterday by the police," said Eric LeCompte, who was at Ground Zero, where 200 were arrested.
Asked whether police made indiscriminate arrests, the mayor said: "I don't think there's any justification for that allegation. The Police Department is acting appropriately."
Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne, a police spokesman, said there was no "pre-emptive" arrest strategy. He noted that protest leaders had declared beforehand that they intended to perform civil disobedience and be arrested.
"When part two of civil disobedience occurs, they whine," he said. "They said they intend to engage in civil disobedience and then they cry foul."
At Ground Zero, Browne said the protest leaders agreed not to block the sidewalk. Police used bullhorns to inform marchers of the law. When they blocked the sidewalk with a banner, police stepped in.
"We arrest everybody because we have the numbers to do it," he said. "Over half of the demonstrators are from out of state, places where the police departments are too small to arrest everyone."
Meanwhile, the conditions at Pier 57 were called "appalling" during a protest yesterday.
Julia Gross, 20, of Philadelphia, who was held for nearly 30 hours, said the holding area floor was covered with chemicals that burned her skin. Worse, she said, her jailers played loud music by Irish singer Enya.
"They kept saying, 'Isn't this calming?' I never want to hear Enya again," she said.
Protesters' arresting tales
Republicans in New York
BY JONATHAN LEMIRE,
and DAVE GOLDINER
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
Many were protesters, others were in the wrong place at the wrong time. More than 1,500 have been arrested during demonstrations against the Republican National Convention. Here are some of their stories:
The party's over
Matthew Kavanagh thought there was no better way to lampoon what he called the corporate greed of the Bush administration than by holding a mock party in the middle of Wall St.
Within seconds, cops were all over Kavanagh and his friends. They wrestled protesters to the pavement and slammed their faces against the tar, even though no one was resisting, he claimed.
"How sad is that the cops need to use this sort of force against five people dancing on Wall St.?" asked Kavanagh, 25, a teacher from Boston. "They treated us like animals."
Honeymoon in lockup
Twenty-four hours in a grimy converted garage wasn't what newlyweds Hannah Taylor and Mike Owen had in mind when they came to NewYork for a week of anti-Bush demonstrations.
But that's where the couple from Wentzville, Mo., population 6,000, found themselves after they got arrested with a group of protesters.
They got stale cheese sandwiches to eat and a night on the hard floor of Pier 57, dubbed Guantanamo on the Hudson.
"They put us in cages with barbed razor wire on top," said Taylor, 18.
Katherine Krassan is a middle-aged mom from suburban New Jersey, not a Bush-hating protester.
But cops swarmed around Krassan and everyone else outside Ground Zero when a demonstration got out of hand. The terrified suburbanite tried to run into a PATH station, but cops grabbed her, ignored her cries of innocence and arrested her.
She spent the next 24 hours behind bars, panicked because she couldn't reach her teenage son back home in Eastampton, N.J. "I've never been so scared in my life," said Krassan, 49. "I was just an innocent bystander. ... I never thought anything like this could ever happen to me."
Helping hand, then cuffs
Standing on a barricade to get a better look at her fellow protesters chanting at the Fox News headquarters in midtown, Lu Hampton caught the eye of a cop. He offered to help her down - then promptly put her in handcuffs.
"It was worth it to yell at Bill O'Reilly," said Hampton, 19, a student from Cleveland.
Dirty cells & nonstop Enya
Julia Gross, 20, was upset over getting arrested for protesting and even more steamed over the rash she got from lying on the motor oil-stained floor of Pier 57. But what drove her over the edge was when cops piped the New Age music of Enya into a holding cell.
"It was really degrading and upsetting," said Gross, a student from Philadelphia.
Left without his wheels
Plenty of protesters charged that cops stripped them of their dignity. Dug Baker says they took his livelihood.
The bicycle messenger was busted along with hundreds of other cyclists when they blocked traffic on W. 35th St. on Friday. He still hasn't gotten his bike back - and has nothing to do but keep on demonstrating.
"I'm glad I spoke out, but I got more than I bargained for," said Baker, 28, of Manhattan. "Without my bike, I can't work."
With Ralph R. Ortega and Helen Peterson