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A half-dozen recently released R2K prisoners held an emotional press conference Saturday afternoon. They described repeated instances of police brutality and neglect during their time in custody. The extraordinary bails (as high as $1 million) being levied against protesters also came under fire.
"I think these bails are meant to stifle dissent," said Paul Hesnekker of the R2K Legal Team. "It's part of an attempt to criminalize political activism in this country."
Jimmy Graham, a legal oberver for the National Lawyers Guild, was arrested when he tried to film a group of police officers who ambushed a young woman wearing a Rainbow-colored bandana. She was suffering an asthma attack and vomiting. When Graham told her she would be o.k., the police began slamming his head into the wall. He would later be charged with four misdemenors: failure to disperse, disorderly conduct, obstruction of a highway and obstruction of justice.
"I foolishly thought I wouldn't be arrested because I was a legal observer," Graham said. "I thought the yellow hat would give me at least a little bit of protection."
Graham was taken to the hospital for treatment of his head wounds. He was told by a police officer that he would be charged with aggravated assault of an officer for having done so.
Later, after he was discharged to the 23rd precinct station, Graham was placed in a jail cell that had no running water with which he could wash his wounds. Fellow prisoners used wawa tea cartons to pass along water to Graham before they were confiscated by guards.
Jordan, a labor organizer from New York city, said that it was common at the Roundhouse for five or six prisoners to be held in a single 5'x7' cell with one metal cot. Joseph Rogers, a local Quaker activist, said prisoners were subject to random beatings. "It didn't really matter if you were cooperating," he said. "They still treated you with brutality."
Jessica Mammarella, a sophomore at Temple University, was one of 78 "puppetistas" arrested Tuesday at the puppet warehouse on 41st and Haverford Avenue. She said she ws placed on a boiling hot bus for hours without water before the police gave the 32 arrestees on board a 16 oz. water bottle to share. Later, as it began raining, Mammarella was able to stick her middle and index fingers through a slit in the bus window. The rainwater ran down her arm and people took turns drinking it as it trickled off her elbow. When people were too weak to get up, others would cup their hands beneath Mammarella's elbows and carry the rusty-tasting water to their friends.
"You guys don't think about it," she said."But it felt great to be able to drink water."
Mammarella faces nine misdemenor charges. She posted a $1,500 bond, which came out of tuition money she had saved for the fall semester.
"I feel so righteous," she said. "We did nothing wrong. Our puppets will be seen" * * For more about what it's like to be in jail solidarity see, www.cybertraveler.org/jail_a16.html