Posted by CODEPINK Staff
Legal Observer Gerry sent this report along.
Our observation crew was not downtown so I can't comment on what happened there. But we were at the intersection of Shepard Rd and Chestnut St.. Myself and one other observer, Laura stopped here because there were six young men that looked like they were in their early twenties sitting in the street on the NW corner of the intersection handcuffed with white plastic cuff devices. We observers all wear lime green baseball caps that say "National Lawyers Guild, Legal Observer". One of the men's face was all red as if he had been pepper sprayed in the face. We noted the time and the location and asked the police for their names and badge numbers which is standard procedure. No response. We asked what the men were charged with. No response. We asked the officer who seemed to be in charge, where they were taking the men. He said he did not know yet. The arrestees were then moved over to the NE corner of the intersection under a shade tree. Finally a van came. The officers in the van had on riot gear and set up a table. They processed the men and took their pictures individually and held up a placard with arrest information on each man. Finally a van came and picked them up and wisked them away. We never knew where. It was then we wondered if they were arresting demonstrators and holding them in secret locations until after the convention at whcih time they would be released. About this time, many people came walking down the hill which was Chestnut St.. The march was over and many of the people were headed to an outdoor rock concert across the river. One lady stopped and asked questions about the men being detained. We said we knew very little as we the police were not answering our questions. The lady said that she lived across the street in the units that had balconies and she pointed out here living unit. About this time I noticed police in riot gear moving in from the north. Also there were some away off in the distance to the east under the Wabasha Bridge. I became nervous as the south was blocked by the river. The only way out was to the west. When mass arrests occur, they become like a shark feeding frenzie and many innocent fish are caught in the net. Also the police seemed like in a particularly ugly mood because they had to work on Labor Day instead of home celebrating it with their families. I suggested to Laura that we ask the lady with the balcony if we could observe and watch from her balcony. She was happy to oblige. We watched as riot police came down from the north and turned east toward the Wabasha Bridge and toward the line of riot police closing in from the east. Next police on bicycles came behind the riot police. And last came about 20 mounted police in riot full gear. After that, 6 or 8 motorcycle police in full gear came speeding down the street with lights and sirens blaring. There was no way any of the people in the grassy park could escape. Some of the people walked to the east. They were met with a hail of tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullet grenades. Some of the gases were different colors. There was no warning given to the people. They turned on their heals and ran in the opposite direction to the west. There was about 500 people in this area. When they saw that they could not escape everyone sat down on the grass in a guesture of I give up. The police said for them to stay and they would be allowed to leave in a while. After about 45 minutes, police escorted some people out with their hands up in the air and surrounded completely by police in riot gear. Three large greyhound type buses were brought in. Some of the people were loaded into these vans and hauled off to who nows where. We had several legal observers among the people. They were escorted and released aong with some of the others that were released. Finally Laura went down on the outside of the crowd and talked with some of those that had been released. One gentleman was just riding his bike home from work. The police said he could leave, but leave the bike there. Officers outside said he could retrieve it later after the rest of the people were processed. One young man told Laura that a girl about 20 was suffering from the heat and asked one of the policeman for a drink of water. The policeman poured out a bottle of water onto the ground in front of her face. Other people were just heading for the concert and had tickets. If you had a ticket, they released you after a long wait. Many people who were released told us the story of their ordeal and that they had friends who were arrested. One young man on the way to the concert, was so tramatized that he broke down in tears after telling us his story. A side story is that there was a large yacht in the river. It had large peace signs hanging from the back and sides. Several bright orange coast guard boats with outboard motors circled the yaugt like bees circling a bear. They looked too small to be able to board the yaugt, but each one had what looked like 50 calibur machine guns mounted fore and aft. Finally a larger coast guard boat came up to the yaught and two men boarded her. A woman below was waving her hands as if to say what are you doing on our yaught. They went topside and the captain came out of the wheel house with his hands in the air. The yaught was steered over to the other side of the river and docked there. We have all of this on video. The forming of the police dragnet and the yaught incident. At about 7:30PM Laura and I went to the Lawyers Guild office and dropped off our notes.