After nearly a week of being held on half a million dollars bail, 2600
staffmember ShapeShifter has had a bail reduction hearing scheduled for
Tuesday, August 8th at 12:30 pm. It will take place in Room 1006 of the
Criminal Justice Center on 13th and Filbert in Philadelphia. The court
is reachable by subway at the 15th Street station on the Market-Frankford
line (one stop from the Amtrak station) and the West Philadelphia trolley
line. It's also next to the City Hall station on the Broad Street line.
ShapeShifter was arrested on Wednesday afternoon while talking on a cell phone.
It is believed that the government will try to file additional charges
in order to keep him imprisoned. Currently, he is being held on four
misdemeanors: obstruction of justice, failure to disperse, something known
in the court as "PIC" (Possession of an Instrument of Crime) which in
this case turned out to be a cell phone, and reckless endangerment. With
the exception of possessing a cell phone, all of these are extremely
general charges which police can apply to almost anyone.
For those who have been following events in the hacker world over the
years, the happenings in Philadelphia seem eerily reminiscent of the
injustices we've seen in cases from Bernie S. to Kevin Mitnick. Long
delays in processing defendants, physical and mental torture behind bars,
flat out lies by law enforcement, misrepresentation of facts that make
innocent objects appear to be instruments of crime... the list goes on
and on. The fact that one of our people is involved in this is further
proof of how the world of injustice is intertwined and shows the importance
of sharing information from one community to another.
A hearing on Monday resulted in one demonstrator having his bail reduced
from one million dollars to $100,000. This came after several members
of his family appeared in court to attest to his character. When Judge Lisa
Richette commented that his record seemed to indicate someone who went
around the country getting arrested at demonstrations, the defense lawyer
noted that the same could have been said about Martin Luther King. It
was also pointed out that this person was nonviolent and that his "PIC"
was also a mere cell phone. The judge reduced the bail to $100,000 because
she thought that's what the District Attorney had recommended. In actuality
he had said $200,000. It obviously didn't matter at all to him since he
accepted the recommended bail being cut in half without objection. When
the defense lawyer asked the District Attorney why he hadn't made this
recommendation days ago when first asked, he was admonished by the judge
for not being grateful.
Judge Richette refused to lower another demonstrator's bail from
$450,000, saying she didn't consider it to be unreasonable. This person had
been charged with felonies which have yet to be clearly defined. More
importantly, the fact that he was from North Carolina indicated to the
judge the need for a high bail, despite the fact that there was nothing
in his record to suggest that he wouldn't show up for a court date. The
defense implored the judge to go ahead and set a high bail but that $450,000
was a "ridiculous" bail that will only ensure that the defendant sits in
prison for many months awaiting trial. The judge was unmoved. Richette
also vowed that the many demonstrators who were still refusing to give their
names would remain in prison indefinitely, regardless of how minor their
alleged crimes might be.
At an emotional press conference outside the courthouse, parents of some
of the demonstrators expressed shock and fear at the heavyhandedness of
the Philadelphia authorities. Stories of physical abuse, denial of food and
medicine, and the refusal of authorities to allow inmates access to
lawyers were told by many. One New Jersey mother was outraged at the
fact that her family was always welcomed to the city as money-spending
tourists, but that as soon as her son was arrested at the Republican
Convention, he became an out-of-state troublemaker who should be treated
like a terrorist. Another father expressed pride in his daughter for
standing up for her beliefs. He declined to give his name, out of fear
of reprisals by prison authorities. The press conference was attended by
every media outlet in town. It will be interesting to see what kind of
coverage it gets.
As of Monday night, hundreds remain imprisoned.
Philadelphia Independent Media Center