Published on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 by the Associated Press
Protesters, Lawyers Criticize Convention Arrests
NEW YORK -- Protesters arrested for demonstrating against the Republican National Convention had been manhandled by police and were kept in a dingy holding facility for as long as 30 hours without adequate legal representation, according to attorneys with the National Lawyers Guild.
Members of the guild held a press conference Monday alleging that police had prevented arrestees from consulting with lawyers and that some were held beyond the legal limit of 24 hours before being brought before a judge or issued a summons.
Yetta Kurland, a guild member, said reports of mistreatment of protesters included a complaint that an eight-week pregnant woman had not been given food or drink and a complaint that a woman with a broken foot was among five detained women daisy chained together.
Protesters and lawyers volunteering as legal observers to oversee protesters' rights said officers had treated them roughly, and complained about conditions at Pier 57, a former parking garage where arrestees are processed.
"I was heavily thrown to the ground - although I did have my legal observer hat on - by a police officer," observer Simone Levine said at the press conference.
Some protesters said there were only two portable toilets at the pier and that holding pens were circled with razor wire.
Since protests began Thursday, 548 people have been arrested, mostly on misdemeanor charges.
City Councilman Charles Barron said he was outraged that lawyers were being prevented from meeting with arrested protesters.
He also complained about police use of nets to trap and then arrest protesters.
"We're not animals," he said.
In a statement, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said officers had been "restrained and professional throughout. The single largest factor in delaying the release of arrested demonstrators is their refusal to identify themselves."
Contrary to some protesters' accounts, Browne said those arrested had been allowed to make telephone calls.
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