For immediate release: Contact:
August 13, 2000 Andrea Buffa (415) 546-6334 x309
Media Alliance Calls for Camcorder Owners to take to the Streets
to Document Police Civil Rights Violations in Los Angeles
Scant media coverage of police misconduct at the Republican Convention
prompts media activist organization to call for grassroots video
activism at the Democratic Convention.
Media Alliance, a San Francisco Bay Area media activist organization,
sent out a "call to action" today for grassroots video coverage of
police mistreatment of non-violent protesters at the Democratic Convention.
"In the age of Rodney King and the Ramparts scandal, police misconduct
can and will be documented and televised," said Andrea Buffa, Media
Alliance’s executive director.
Media Alliance sent out the following alert today by email and fax
to activists and media outlets throughout California:
Calling anyone who owns a video camera! Take action next week in
Media Alliance has received troubling reports of civil rights violations
by the Philadelphia police against individuals who peacefully protested
at the Republican Convention. One report, from the legal director of
the Center for Constitutional Rights, describes as "frightening and
disturbing" the willingness of the Philadelphia Police Department and
other public officials to disregard the Bill of Rights.
"We accuse the City of Philadelphia of arresting hundreds, often
without a reasonable basis; of holding those people for long periods
of time without arraignment or access to their attorneys . . . and,
worst of all, doing these things as a way of punishing those who merely
want to express the obvious—that there is much in our society that
requires healing, that is not being addressed by our pathetic, plastic
political system," wrote William Goodman, legal director for the Center
for Constitutional Rights, on August 8.
On the same day, Media Alliance was emailed information gathered by
the Philadelphia Direct Action Group about "reports of serious physical
torture and mental abuse inside the jails." These reports included
prisoners being hog-tied or beaten until some have gone unconscious,
and then given no medical care; a woman seen dragged, naked and
bleeding, by guards; a man handcuffed, crucifixion-style to his cell
door as guards smashed his hands with metal handcuffs; and a prisoners
being denied essential medication for life-threatening ailments, as
well as food, water and use of toilets.
These reports do not bode well for the individuals who are preparing
for non-violent protest at the Democratic Convention this coming week,
considering the abysmal record of the L.A. Police Department and its
already aggressive stance toward them.
In the hope of protecting demonstrators from police harassment and
violence, we call on all Californians in the vicinity of the Democratic
Convention to become video journalists and document instances of police
misconduct. Any such footage may be sent to Media Alliance at 814 Mission
Street, Suite 205, San Francisco, CA 94103 for distribution to the media
and the general public. Unfortunately, video cameras will not be allowed
into jails to document the abusive conditions to which individuals may be
subjected behind closed doors.
We also encourage grassroots videographers to join the Independent
Media Center in Los Angeles (www.indymedia.org), where independent
journalists will gather to create media about the serious social
problems that have prompted demonstrations against corporate globalization
from Seattle to Washington, DC to Philadelphia to Los Angeles.