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Posted 5 Aug 2000 00:00:00 UTC

Nearly 400 people have been arrested in Philadelphia as part of the protests surrounding the Republican National Convention. But what's especially unusual and extremely frightening is the fact that mere organizers of demonstrations are being held and treated as if they were terrorists. It brings back memories of the Bernie S. case when simple everyday items were cited as tools which could be used for evil purposes. In this case, material that was being used to make puppets was enough to necessitate a raid on a building and the arrests of many harmless people.

Witnesses describe the targeting of certain individuals, specifically those riding bicycles, anyone dressed in black, or people talking on radios or Nextel phones. One of those people was an activist who goes by the name ShapeShifter who led a panel discussion on H2K about the RNC and DNC conventions, and who does layout for 2600. The police apparently knew who he was, as he was arrested while walking down a street talking on a phone. Reports are conflicting as to whether he's being held on a million dollars bail or $500,000. He's being charged with a misdemeanor, according to the Philadelphia Police web site.

We find this to be an outrageous abuse of authority. The groups that are being targeted are widely known for their nonviolence and use of puppets and other art forms to get their message out. Protestors have blocked streets since protests first began and such things are signs of a healthy society. When arrests have to be made, the charges are never very serious. This kind of reaction is completely out of line with reality and looks a whole lot like retribution by the authorities for embarrassing them during the convention. Does this ever sound familiar.

Naturally, the mainstream media has been very quiet about this. We've seen it all before. And we know that depending on them to report the story accurately, whether it's about what hackers are doing or how the authorities are abusing people, is a largely futile effort. Reports have been filtering out of the prisons about inhumane conditions, physical abuse, and treatment bordering on torture.

This is another example of the parallels between the hacker world and the real world. And in this case, more than a few people are involved with both. We ask that you not forget them, help us spread the word, and keep your eyes open for such abuses in the future.

Philadelphia Independent Media Center

Philadelphia Police Department's high bail arrests

CNN: Philadelphia police accuse protest leaders of directing violence

Wired: GOP Fertile Ground for Hackers

Philadelphia Inquirer: No Break for Protesters, Street Vows

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