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Urgent Plea for AIDS Activists' Bail Fund

by Anonymous Friday, Aug. 11, 2000 at 11:11 PM

UPDATE: Kate Sorensen's preliminary hearing is taking place right now in Philadelphia. She has been in custody since Tuesday (8/1).

UPDATE: Kate Sorensen's preliminary hearing is taking place right

now in Philadelphia. She has been in custody since Tuesday (8/1). We

are waiting to hear if her charges, 10 felonies, are dismissed or if

her bail, million, is reduced. As of right now, 0,000 is

needed for Kate's release.

Below is a letter from Asia Russell of ACT UP Philadelphia. Please

see information on how to send money (donations and/or loans) to the

AIDS Activists' Bail Fund. Call or e-mail me to discuss how loans

can be paid back to you. We, of course, are in need of donations in

addition to loans.

If her bail is reduced, it is _very_ possible to get Kate released

today. Wiring money to the ACT UP Philadelphia account is the most


Thank you,

Sharonann Lynch

ACT UP New York

phone 215-731-1844


Dear Friends and Fellow Activists:

I wonder if you have been following the protest news during the last

week in Philadelphia. I have, because I live and work there, as an

AIDS activist-I am a member of ACT UP Philadelphia. We are a

non-violent direct action AIDS activists. And these days, in the

city where democracy was born, identifying yourself that way is

enough to get you arrested just walking down the street.

I know because that is what happened to my fellow ACT UP members

during the week of non-violent protests against George W. Bush and

his cronies at the GOP convention. ACT UP is still reeling in the

wake of the sweeping, brutal arrests, and the terrifying conditions

of detainment sustained by the protesters.

As you may have heard, the Philadelphia police saw fit to quell free

speech by arresting a handful of activists "pre-emptively," in order

to eliminate people labeled as leaders from the streets. Several of

those outrageous arrests-arrests based not on peoples' criminal

actions but on peoples' beliefs-were of core ACT UP Philadelphia


The egregious actions of the city of Philadelphia do not bode well

for the future of radical AIDS and queer activism-unless we respond

now. And I would argue that, given the horrific track record of

Governor George W. Bush on AIDS and queer issues, protesting in

response to his reactionary policies will become an increasingly

important tactic for people with AIDS as the country meanders toward

Election Day.

Kate Sorensen, Terrence McGuckin, and Paul Davis were all targeted

by Philadelphia's "pre-emptive" GOP convention arrests on August 1.

Each also were key participants in a recent ACT UP office takeover

and lockdown at the United States Trade Representative's office in

November 1999. The action was designed to send Charlene

Barshefsky-the US Trade Representative-off to the doomed Seattle WTO

Rounds with a clear image of domestic opposition to US trade policy

blocking international access to cheap, generic AIDS drugs. Only

weeks after the protest, President Clinton announced a change in

trade policy in favor of "flexibility," given the ramifications of

the global AIDS crisis. Al Gore-still haggard from the activist

zaps along the campaign trail-told the UN Security Council in

February 2000 that "the AIDS activists were right"-the

Administration should have done more about AIDS in Africa.

Direct action results in major shifts in the terms of debate, in

favor of people with AIDS. So when public officials equate blocking

traffic, clogging transportation routes, blocking hotel entrances,

and stopping business as usual with "terrorism," "rioting," and

"conspiracy," we must fight back. In the history of the AIDS

crisis, and the history of the queer liberation movement, we have

never won anything by asking. Every positive advance has been the

result of struggle. But the tools of struggle and resistance are

being taken from our hands.

There are several concrete steps you can take to help rectify this crisis:

o Get our comrades out of jail

We have many members among the 350 who remain in Philadelphia jail.

One is ACT UP activist Kate Sorensen, a community organizer of

unmatched caliber on a variety of issues. Kate's bail is set at

million; she is charged with ten profoundly trumped-up felonies-from

arson, to conspiracy, to inciting a riot. Police Commissioner

Timoney describes her as one of "a cadre of criminal conspirators."

Donate to her bail fund--our community activists must be returned to

the community:

Make your tax-deductible check out to "ISMCH" (they're the Fiscal

Sponsor, The Institute of Social Medicine and Community Health), and

mail it to the Philadelphia Direct Action Group (P-DAG). If your

money is specifically for a ACT UP or for an individual, please

specify that in the memo field of your check along with the text

"BAIL FUND." Also send an e-mail to ACT UP Philadelphia Treasurer

Rebecca Ewing (rbecca@critpath.org) and to Sharonann Lynch

(salynch@durban2000march.org) stating the amount.


P.O. Box 40683

Philadelphia, PA 19107-0683

Wire ACT UP Philadelphia money today:

If it's done before 6:30pm, we can get Kate out today. This is not

tax-deductible but you can use your credit card. Again, please

e-mail the details to rbecca@critpath.org &


Account number: 31 00 20 557

Routing number: 036 001 808

Commerce Bank

1900 Market Street

Philadelphia, PA

Commerce Bank phone 215-568-0900

o Voice your rage

If you are outraged that Philadelphia sees fit to quell non-violent

protest with tactics of torture, brutality, and denial of civil

liberties; if you are outraged by reports of protesters denied

water, food, medication, and medical attention during their

outrageously prolonged detainment; if you are outraged by

Philadelphia's use of exorbitant bail to silence dissent and

activism, rather than to prevent flight; if you are outraged by the

clear and present criminalization of activist dissent and protest,

then I urge you to contact

Philadelphia's City Hall:

Mayor John Street's (215) 686-2181; Fax: (215) 686-2180

Stefanie Stuber, Mayor's Chief of Staff-(215) 686-7508; Fax: (215) 563-3162

Lynn Abraham, District Attorney (215) 686-9604 Fax: (215) 563-0047

Philadelphia Police Complaint Line: (215) 686-3991

Deputy Commissioner Mitchell (Head of Demonstrations) (215) 686-3364

Captain Fisher (Head of Civil Affairs) (215) 685-3684

Chief Maxwell (Head of Detectives and Investigations) (215) 686-3362

Say you are following the situation and encourage/demand:

1) All charges be dropped. This demand will include those who are charged

with felonies and those that have already been released.

2) No separation or isolation of any individual.

3) Equal treatment for all individuals.

4) An end to the harassment of legal observers.

At times such as these, we do well to remember the history that has

brought us here: the Stonewall riots, shutting down the FDA,

stopping trading on Wall Street over the price of AZT-our tactics of

direct action do not make us any friends. But they have forced our

targets to capitulate time and time again.

Our grandstanding Police Commissioner, John Timoney, wants to launch

a full-scale federal probe into the activities of the groups whose

protests shut down the World Trade Organization rounds in Seattle,

disrupted recent IMF and World Bank meetings, and stopped business

as usual at GOP convention central. "Somebody's got to look into

these groups," Timoney says. While Timoney sets his sights on

puncturing our movement with a taxpayer funded, McCarthy-style

witch-hunt, ACT UP will be fighting back. We hope you will be there

with us.

Yours in struggle,

Asia Russell

for ACT UP Philadelphia

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