Revolutionary Worker #1252, September 19, 2004, posted at http://rwor.org

The following is from a report by a RW correspondent in New York City:

For those arrested during the RNC week, the overwhelming majority on summary violations, there was a "processing" time that amounted to preventative detention.

People arrested were taken to the squalid Pier 57, an old bus terminal. Protesters called the place the "Gitmo-on-the-Hudson"--after the U.S. military detention center at Guantánamo, Cuba. As one man who'd been arrested reported to the TV and radio program Democracy Now ! (which aired people calling in from the facility), "We are like a hundred.people in a very small room. It's surrounded by fence and -- it's almost like rats in a hole. There's nothing, there is just a floor which is very dirty, which is a lot of oil and all dust in it, all our clothes are dirty, our hands are dirty. 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." There were various reports--from sources such as the Independent Media Center, Anarchist People of Color, and the New York Times --that arrestees developed rashes and other skin problems because of the chemicals abounding at the site.

Before the RNC, the police bragged about their ability to handle 1,000 arrests a day (and informed the District Attorney to be prepared for this). But when it actually came time to process people they arrested, the police acted as if they were overwhelmed--claiming at one point that it was because the fingerprint checks were being held up. This particular excuse evaporated when the authorities in Albany (who check prints for local police) pointed out that they'd been able do checks within 32 minutes of receiving them.

This fact itself reveals a whole other layer of repression. Hundreds of people, including people who were simply bystanders, were being fingerprinted, and having their prints checked against the FBI's database--and quite likely having their prints put into the database as well.

The detentions were so blatant that even a judge eventually intervened. By law in New York, no one is to be held for more than 24 hours without seeing a judge. As 24 hours turned to 36and for some people 60, a judge ordered the city to release 560 people on Thursday, September 2,the last day of the convention. He also fined the city $1,000 for every person held overtime.

Playing the Terror Card

Shortly before the start of the convention, the NYPD played one last "terror card." On Saturday, August 28, they announced--conveniently enough--the arrest of two men they claimed were plotting to blow up Herald Square (near Madison Square Garden). Not surprisingly, beyond the blare of the initial headlines, came what is becoming the norm with these type of stories. As the New York Times later had to explain, "[NYC Police Commissioner] Kelly and other officials stressed yesterday that the men had obtained no explosives and had set no specific time for any attack, and that it was unclear how far their plans had actually progressed. A news release announcing the arrests said they were not connected to earlier intelligence that al-Qaida was seeking to attack financial targets in New York before the election." In other words, this was mainly about reinforcing the climate of fear--to give the police more maneuver room.

Other Attacks

It wasn't just police in the street that were doing theattacking.

On August 30, in the heat of the RNC, an article was posted on the reactionary Frontpage.com website. The article put out fabricated charges that Not in Our Name was planning a confrontational demonstration for the last night of the RNC. The article specifically named the RCP as well as Mary Lou Greenberg (spokesperson for the RCP, NYC branch) and other people working with NION to try and cast them in a conspiratorial light. (The article claims the supposed evidence for the story came from an unnamed informant.) The point of the article was to not only target NION for police attacks during the convention, but also to further lay the basis for attacks on the RCP.