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BAIL REDUCTION HEARING FOR SHAPESHIFTER
Posted 7 Aug 2000 00:00:00 UTC

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

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