2600 staffperson and community activist ShapeShifter, one of hundreds
taken into custody during last week's Republican National Convention
in Philadelphia, has finally been released.
ShapeShifter, whose real name is Terrence McGucken, was arrested while
walking down a street last Wednesday talking on a cell phone. The phone
was named as a "PIC" (possession of an instrument of crime) and
McGucken was accused of being a ringleader for the demonstrators. At
a hearing on Monday, prosecutors indicated that they intended to file
additional charges against him. However, in today's hearing they said
that there was no evidence to support this and recommended a bail
reduction from half a million dollars to $200,000.
But events hit a snag when the judge saw two different addresses in
McGuckin's name. They were only one digit apart and easily explainable
since he had moved across the street a few months earlier. This seemed
like a completely alien concept to the judge and the prosecutor was
very eager to make this seem like some sort of deception was being
perpetrated. After about 10 minutes of this, where family members swore
that his address was correct, friends revealed the names of the title holders of
both houses, and McGuckin's lawyer attempted to explain the idea of
sharing a house, the address was accepted and bail was reduced to
$100,000. The judge seemed to believe she was repeating her actions of
Monday, when she had lowered another defendant's bail to $100,000.
However, that person's bail had been set at a million dollars whereas
McGucken's was only $500,000. In each case, the defendants were
accused of nothing more serious than a misdemeanor.
Friends have been scrambling to raise the necessary ten percent of
this figure (the remaining 90 percent is considered a "loan" and
comes due if the defendant fails to appear in court). Unfortunately,
$10,000 happens to be the cutoff for a mandatory IRS form concerning
large sums of money. (It has something to do with the War On Drugs.)
According to the bail people, nothing could proceed until someone
produced a Social Security Card. A mere Social Security Number would
not suffice. Had the bail been a penny lower, this wouldn't have been
necessary. But, since it was, family members had to race home to try
and find a card that would be accepted. We've seen many accusations
of mental and physical abuse towards the demonstrators. This is an
example of bureaucratic abuse.
Late Tuesday night, McGuckin was finally released after hours of
delays at the prison. He is now recuperating with friends and