Riggsveda has a terrific, throughly linked post up about the latest development in the story of the protesters arrested in NYC during the RNC convention. She bounces off today's frontpage NYT story that looks like it's going to blow the lid off the corruption that led to doctored video tapes being used in some of the protesters' trials, but then simply wanders around to assure us that we should all be glad that the police "showed restraint" when dealing with the peaceful protests.
The Police Department maintains that much of the videotape that has surfaced since the convention captured what Mr. Browne called the department's professional handling of the protests and parades. "My guess is that people who saw the police restraint admired it," he said.
Their uniforms were freshly pressed and their breath minty fresh as well. Nobody died while being arrested. Rejoice, Comrade!
The theme of the story is clearly all's well that ends well. It's "balanced" because even though it starts off talking about clear corruption, it allows the perpetrators of that corruption to range off topic to have their say. (We're admirable.) The balance does not extend to the other side of the story; there are no quotes from victims. And, as usual, we're in a context-free zone so we aren't reminded that while the police were restraining themselves from beating peaceful citizens in the view of cameras and lawyers, they were netting crowds indiscriminately and hauling off those captured to be detained in conditions that were inhumane, that denied due process and were lawyer-free. From Theoria posting at dKos:
Long story short (too late) everyone was zip-cuffed and thrown in the wagon. Depending on whether or not the people were moving fast enough for whatever grumpy cop was coming at you, you might even be slammed face-down on the cement, as was another photographer Jeff witnessed being manhandled... an older man who was dropped right down on his camera.
A few hours later, Jeff finds himself in an overcrowded holding pen on a pier in Lower Manhattan... one of seven he would stay in before his release 36 hours later. The pens were roughly 25' x 30', and sported razor wire around the perimeter. Each held perhaps fifty detainees. Detainees were grouped and assigned to arresting officers. What the hell does that mean? They were handing groups of arrested civilians off to officers who weren't even there so they could file the arrest reports.
Jeff estimated that more than half of these detainees were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time... shopping... studying... being a tourist. The arrests were completely indiscriminate, unless you're a delegate, in which case it cleared some human waste out of your path. If you were within a city block of the entrance to the NYC Library on Tuesday at about 5:30 pm, you were one of the estimated 1,200 people that ended up in a cage on a pier in Manhattan, waiting 12 hours before being given access to a phone, and more than 24 hours before being charged with anything. In most cases, this has amounted to being detained for 36+ hours (at least 12 hours longer that allowed by law here) and written a fucking ticket.
After two nights in the system, including one night on a floor of a warehouse where a medic told everyone not to let their exposed skin touch the floor for fear of getting the mysterious rash that has been plaguing people there (asbestos and motor oil, apparently,) Jeff finally went before a judge. Well, actually, he didn't. The judge and NLG lawyers were gone, so a cop handed him a ticket with an order to appear in court here in NYC next month and sent him on his way. When Jeff went to collect his belongings, he was told that his camera equipment was being held as evidence.
Jog your memory with another account and photos of what Little Gitmo looked like:
For the previous three decades Pier 57 had served as a municipal bus maintenance facility. The floor was caked in layers of thick black oily grime, presumably motor oil and transmission fluid. Signs still hung from the walls above us. “Raw Chemical Storage Area”, “Antifreeze”, and other areas had been designated for the storage and use of exotic sounding chemicals: "ZEP Drying Agent", "Transynd", “XHP 222 Special” and others.
It was apparent that some time ago the sides of the facility were sandbagged to protect the Hudson River from the runoff of this facility. This meant that this buildup of pollution would serve as bedding for 1,800 people. Later I would witness fellow prisoners develop chemical burns and skin infections filled with white pus that I could only attribute to these conditions.
Pictures of a protest at Central Booking (Free the RNC 1800) here.
And who provided the use of Pier 57 so that it could be set up as a Guantanamo on the Hudson? Don't ask the NYT. Find that out here.
UPDATE: Here's the best source for information about who was responsible for Pier 57 during the convention. I'm going to include a fairly long excerpt:
According to Martin, the NYPD approached HRPT to initiate the request to use the pier. The arrangement made with the RNC Host Committee was for the second floor of Pier 57, for use as a parking facility. Martin states that all agreements for the pier’s use were for “as-is” conditions, meaning that the HRPT was not responsible for any safety inspections or clean-up of the piers that might be necessary to prepare the site for use. That responsibility, Martin maintains, was left to the NYPD and the RNC Host Committee.
Pier 57 had previously been used by the Metro Transit Authority as a bus depot, but that lease ended and the pier was turned over to HRPT on June 1st, 2004. There are no records currently available concerning clean-up of the pier after HRPT took possession of the site. Repeated attempts to obtain information about sanitizing and repair of the pier, in the form of phone conversations and faxes of a list of questions, remain unanswered. Several sources within the NYPD, who did not wish to be named, stated that they believed the NYPD was directed to Pier 57 for use as the detention facility by other persons outside of the Department. One source, when asked if the suggestion came from someone within the RNC Host Committee, stated, “That sounds about right.”
This author has also learned that, contrary to the current assertions that Pier 57 was safe and contained no hazardous materials that might have endangered detainees, a specialist in toxic site identification has information proving the site is indeed contaminated and dangerous. A “large body” of data indicating significant toxic contamination exists concerning Pier 57, according to sources familiar with details of several toxic site contamination documents related to the Pier. Prior to the Republican National Convention, the Pier even had a special apparatus attached to the base of the pier to prevent toxic seepage into the Hudson River, but it was removed prior to the Convention.
With Pier 57 now in the process of being renovated, and with a leading contender for the development headed by Roland Betts, significant questions arise not only about the conditions of Pier 57 but also concerning how much money was spent to prepare the site for the Convention and what if any clean-up took place. One attorney familiar with the situation informed the author that there is a possibility that responsibility for the clean-up and for safety of the Pier might now be passed on from the developers to the City of New York or even perhaps the NYPD. The attorney says that the costs might run into millions of dollars. Potential lawsuits from detainees, who are taking legal actions for their arrest and for conditions at Pier 57, would further add to the costs.
Finally, any costs incurred by the RNC Host Committee to prepare the pier as a parking area could possibly reduce eventual development costs for the pier -- Chelsea Piers Management’s own proposal calls in part for parking space at Pier 57. Costs for any possible construction, clean-up, repairs, etc to the site during the RNC would be paid for by the City of New York.
This is an ongoing story, as the development project moves forward at the same time more questions surface about the link between the RNC Host Committee and Pier 57, and as lawsuits raise the possibility that more documents and information may come to light.