Sunday, March 19, 2006

Support needed for arrested protester Monday

Dear Friends,

Yesterday a resistance action was held at the Federal Courthouse in Detroit in protest against the U.S. practice of torture and war making. As it turned out, those who were there experienced first-hand the very attitudes and behavior that we were there to protest.

At approximately 4 P.M four of us, including Connie Supan, Cher McKinzie, John Zettner, and I donned black ponchos and hoods and mounted milk cartons placed on the steps of the courthouse in order to present a visual image of the infamous photo taken at Abu Ghraib. Ron Dale also dressed as a detainee and a handful of supporters were also present. A large sign declaring the U.S. guilty of violating human rights was also part of the demonstration. As always, the National Lawyers' Guild provided great support.

From the get-go, the Federal marshals who "greeted" us were abusive and violent. After pulling the milk cartons out from under us, they proceeded to roughly push us off the steps repeatedly, knee us as we held our ground, and verbally taunt us. At one, point they threatened to take away Charlie Rooney's camera, telling him he is not allowed to photograph the building.

It was very disorienting to be hooded - just a very slight taste of what detainees must experience. While the five of us could not see what was going on around us, the shoves and verbal taunts painted a picture that reveals the fascistic direction in which we are headed. The federal marshals no longer have the power to arrest and, we surmise, that feeling frustrated by this fact resorted to violence as a way to exert their control. It was also the first time in a demo or action that I have witnessed authorities take such an explicitly political stand. when they demanded to know who our "leader" was, John responded by saying, "Not George Bush" to which one of the marshals responded, "He's MY leader." One of the marshals recently returned from Iraq and there was a great deal made of that. I wonder if a pro-war rally at the same site would receive the same treatment.

When the Federal authorities with the power to arrest arrived, John Zettner who was standing on the sidewalk was pushed UP the steps in order to justify his arrest. Although a number of Detroit Police officers were at the scene and had the authority to arrest us for being on the sidewalk, they chose not to arrest. At the time of his arrest, John was holding Cher's hand, and Cher felt him being pushed up. He was roughly handcuffed and taken to a car across the street. After his arrest, the rest of us continued to stand on the steps in solidarity with John with the expectation of being arrested and the marshals continued to push us off. At one point, Connie told them that we could sue them for their manhandling and they backed off (charges against the marshals may very well be filed). Surprisingly, they did not arrest the rest of us.

At about 6 P.M. we agreed to leave the site for one hour if the authorities agreed to process John within that time and simply issue him a ticket. Hence, we were shocked when John emerged from the McNamara Building where he was taken by Homeland Protective Serives and charged with creating a disturbance, resisting arrest, and assaulting an officer, ridiculous and erroneous charges, one of which carries a maximum sentence of one year. John's arraignment is scheduled for 10 A.M. Monday, March 20 at the Federal Courthouse and it is important that he have support.

Please, if you are free Monday, try to make it to the courthouse to support our friend who exemplifies the power of nonviolent resistance.

In Solidarity,

Kim Redigan
8460 Riverdale
Dearborn Heights, MI 48127

When he announced the air strikes, President George Bush said, "We're a peaceful nation." Tony Blair echoed him: "We're a peaceful people."
So now we know. Pigs are horses. Girls are boys. War is peace.
- Arundhati Roy

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