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Saturday, Aug. 12, 2000 at 7:07 AM
KATE SORENSON OUT OF JAIL
Subject: Update:ACT UP/Philadephia Jailed Protesters
This is an FYI on the latest on the R2K arrests in Philly going
out to ACT UP/LA and other AIDS activists, GLBT activists, and
Healthcare activists etc etc......
I have come to think that the Democratic machine in Philadelphia
was not only protecting their GOP guests but also making damn sure
they got key organizers off the streets and away from organizing
for D2K here in LA next week.
Ironically ACT UP/Philadlephia had not planned to come to LA for D2K!
The bail amounts and the treatment of prisoners has been outrageous
by now various reports. I have a report from Julie Davids (ACT
UP/Phila) which details the cumulative reports of jailhouse
mistreatement etc. which I am hope to get out in the next day or so.
Clarification: Kate I believe was organizing with Direct Action
Network whilst Terrence, though he has been part of ACT
UP/Philadelphia was not with them for R2K. No news of ACT
UP/Philly's Paul Davis who was also arrested.
(Below is from SharonAnn Lynch - ACT UP/NY & Asia Russell - ACT
UP/Philadelphia via Judy Sisneros in LA and Bruce Mirken in SF....).
Subject: Urgent Plea for AIDS Activists' Bail Fund
***PLEASE DISTRIBUTE WIDELY***
UPDATE: Kate Sorensen's preliminary hearing is taking place
right now (Thursday 8/10) 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, $1
million, is reduced. As of
right now, $100,000 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 expedient.
ACT UP New York
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
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,
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 $1 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
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
Ewing (email@example.com) and to Sharonann Lynch
(firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.com
Account number: 31 00 20 557
Routing number: 036 001 808
1900 Market Street
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:
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,
for ACT UP Philadelphia
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by Edison Carter
Saturday, Aug. 12, 2000 at 8:27 AM
Although Kate's probably a nice person, and certainly her cause is noble, this article contains elements of a consistent problem with our journalism - extreme bias. We fault the corp media for it, yet we tolerate equal and greater amounts of it when it favors our own people?
"Non-violent", "arrested for expressing one's beliefs", "arrested for walking down the street", "lockdown".. um, think twice about this. What is a "lockdown" of a public intersection or govt office, but forcible occupation and forced denial of access? Just because nobody gets physically assaulted, doesn't mean it's peaceful. When the cops surrounded the Ministry of Puppetganda for 4 hours before arresting people, while waiting for the warrant to be signed, was this merely a "non-violent lockdown"?
The police use much harsher tactics, yes. I'd rather be stuck in traffic for an afternoon or have my office forcibly occupied for several hours, than sit in a hell-hole of a jail for 6 days. I don't deny that. But please, don't be naive. Forcibly blocking a city street, forcibly occupying and taking over a politicrat's office, these are attacks - like vandalism, they exact an understood price. They're crimes, and we all know that. As opposed to when a protester is issued a jaywalking ticket, that'a clearly a case of selective enforcement with political motivation.
But when you say something like she was arrested for merely walking down the street and/or expressing her beliefs instead of for her past participation and current planning of activities which would get anyone arrested at any time, you aren't just making yourself look an irrational extremist living in your own world. To the mundane world, you're making us all look that way.
I support Kate's purpose, and partially support her tactics. I definitely admire her courage! I don't support punitively high bail, abuse of inmates, or excessive force by police. But I don't fault them for arresting someone intentionally sitting in the middle of Main Street to block traffic though, no matter what the cause.
With "direct actions", situations and people cease to be as simple as black and white / good and evil / right and wrong. Our journalism needs to reflect this and report accordingly, if the IMC movement ever wants real credibility.
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