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Posted 8 Aug 2000 00:00:00 UTC

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 family.

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