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Arresting the Curious

by MITCHEL COHEN

Boston, July 25, 4 pm

Half-an-hour ago, around 3:30 pm, plainclothes Secret Service pulled a Mid-Eastern looking fellow out from the permitted demonstration as around 1,000 antiwar protesters marched past a check-point, and arrested him.

A crowd of around 25 people followed the police through an alleyway that opened onto a large mall, where the “detained” person sat on a stairway hands cuffed behind his back, surrounded by police.

While the crowd chanted, “This is racial profiling” and “let him go”, a lawyer for the demonstration, John Pavos, arrived, but was not afforded much time and no privacy to talk with the arrestee. The police maintained at first that he was not under arrest, but that if he’d allow them to take his picture they’d run in through their computers and let him go. He allowed them to take his picture. A few minutes later the police decided not to let him go.

What was the crime? Police spokespeople say he was arrested for walking past a checkpoint and looking around “a little too curiously.” The fact that we were ALL looking around curiously at the enormous fencings surrounding the Fleet Center where the Democratic National Convention begins tomorrow did not seem to matter to the police, who were clearly under orders from federal officials. The person — who to me appeared like any Graduate Student at the New School in NY — was detained solely because of his Middle-Eastern appearance, male and bearded.

He was taken to a nearby police center to be questioned by the Secret Service. A reporter for Binghamton IndyMedia recorded the whole thing on camcorder, and will shortly be up on the web.

The demonstration itself was very vibrant and full of energy, challenging both parties’ support for the war against Iraq and decimation of the Bill of Rights. I carried a sign — one of many — that said “Expose the Truth about 9-11”, and was interviewed on NY 1, for any New Yorkers interested in checking it out. I was also interviewed on Japanese television, in which I began by saying “The Democratic Party is the Roach Motel of Politics; the progressive people go in, and they never come out.”

The press were mostly focused in their questions about the potential for violence by the demonstrators. I told them that as a participant in Chicago in 1968 and Seattle in 1999, and many antiwar protests in between, that it has generally been the police and the government that initiated violence, clubbing people, teargassing them, shooting them with electric stun guns, and so forth. It is the government and military that are bombing the hell out of Iraq and other countries, not the protesters, and the same people that are committing the violence abroad are perpetrating it here at home, while orchestrating fear and mass hysteria to put into place fascist mechanisms.

Just also got word that they just evacuated the building at Staples due to suspicions of some package that they found. (Nothing, of course.) All done to perpetrate panic.

While the demonstrators stood around the police chanting “Let Him Go,” a group of Bostonians stood on top of the steps and counter-chanted: “Let’s go Red Sox.”

“Go Reds, Smash State,” I muttered (secretly rooting for the NY Yankees, who are here at Fenway Park this afternoon).

MITCHEL COHEN is co-editor of “Green Politix,” the national newspaper of the Greens/Green Party USA. He can be reached at: mitchelcohen@mindspring.com

 

Mitchel Cohen is Coordinator of the No Spray Coalition in New York City.

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