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Why Do the ACLU and National Lawyers Guild Protect Violent Riot Police?

On June 2, 2003, I was falsely imprisoned and violently assaulted by Seattle riot police on 5th Avenue in downtown Seattle. On March 22, 2003, my son and I were not just falsely imprisoned and assaulted by Seattle Police, but also Federal riot police, and several Federal agencies, including the Department of Immigration, who were armed and on site as well. We were not attacked alone. About 300 hundred, or more, fellow unarmed citizens, committing no crimes, in an area with a city permit for the protest, also suffered my fate, in both instances. After these incidents, the National Lawyers Guild, the Washington American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Seattle City Council, and the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) solicited our written accounts of these illegal cop riots. Additionally, two “activist� lawyers, Larry Hildes and Paul Richmond, showed up on the scene, and solicited their services to the pool of victims. I gave my two city claim cards, filled out, to Paul, and that was basically the end of that. Never heard about it again. So, myself, and hundreds of other victims, sent detailed reports to all of these agencies and people. And I have not been contacted about these events by a single one of all these people or organizations since I handed them detailed reports of illegal police brutality on Seattle streets upon hundreds of people in front of my eyes, even with details of which cops did what, with their physical descriptions and the numbers from their uniforms and helmets. (Oh wait, the OPA did send me a humorous form letter saying the police did nothing wrong. And finally I contacted Hildes this week and I cannot, honestly, tell what he is saying regarding these cases other than no class action cases are filed in the courts in either case). At this point, I feel I should not have even identified myself as being present at these protests, much less where I was, or what I saw, for these people and agencies to deliver…nothing…for that vulnerability.
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Why Do the ACLU and National Lawyers Guild Protect Violent Riot Police?
By Kirsten Anderberg (www.kirstenanderberg.com)

On June 2, 2003, I was falsely imprisoned and violently assaulted by Seattle riot police on 5th Avenue in downtown Seattle. On March 22, 2003, my son and I were not just falsely imprisoned and assaulted by Seattle Police, but also Federal riot police, and several Federal agencies, including the Department of Immigration, who were armed and on site as well. We were not attacked alone. About 300 hundred, or more, fellow unarmed citizens, committing no crimes, in an area with a city permit for the protest, also suffered my fate, in both instances. After these incidents, the National Lawyers Guild, the Washington American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Seattle City Council, and the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) solicited our written accounts of these illegal cop riots. Additionally, two “activist� lawyers, Larry Hildes and Paul Richmond, showed up on the scene, and solicited their services to the pool of victims. I gave my two city claim cards, filled out, to Paul, and that was basically the end of that. Never heard about it again. So, myself, and hundreds of other victims, sent detailed reports to all of these agencies and people. And I have not been contacted about these events by a single one of all these people or organizations since I handed them detailed reports of illegal police brutality on Seattle streets upon hundreds of people in front of my eyes, even with details of which cops did what, with their physical descriptions and the numbers from their uniforms and helmets. (Oh wait, the OPA did send me a humorous form letter saying the police did nothing wrong. And finally I contacted Hildes this week and I cannot, honestly, tell what he is saying regarding these cases other than no class action cases are filed in the courts in either case). At this point, I feel I should not have even identified myself as being present at these protests, much less where I was, or what I saw, for these people and agencies to deliver…nothing…for that vulnerability.

To what can we attribute this insane sheepishness regarding police brutality upon hundreds in the town square in broad daylight? There seems to be no controversy that unacceptable and unprovoked police violence occurred on both occasions within the community. It would not be hard to find hundreds of people to testify about unnecessary police brutality on both occasions, certainly hundreds witnessed these events. The Seattle City Council told me they received a lot of written complaints which are in the city records as well. Yet even Seattle Weekly writer Philip Dawdy, who in the past seemed to be a proponent of police accountability, has turned his back on recent memory. In a recent WTO anniversary issue of the Seattle Weekly, he actually said that a good byproduct of the WTO riots was that Seattle Police learned not to use indiscriminate use of weaponry on protesters. That statement is absolutely laughable. The amazing part for me in Philip saying this is that Philip was present at the June 2, 2003 LEIU protests, and he saw the police indiscriminantly attacking us all, him included. I would be surprised if Philip, himself, did not fear for his physical safety at some point during the LEIU protests turned police riot. I know I feared for my physical safety, and talking to Geov Parrish when we were there together that day, I know he was also very apprehensive that we were all going to suffer physical injury via unacceptable police brutality. So local press knew about this violence and experienced it first hand, but now somehow Philip can report something like the Seattle Police have not used indiscriminate force on protesters since the 1999 WTO protests and riots? How does this happen? You can go back to June 3, 2003, and read the Seattle Post Intelligencer headlines, and see the police spraying pepper spray on the P-I reporter! How indiscriminate is *that*?

I want to know why the ACLU asked for all of our written accounts if they did not intend to do a thing about it? And why did the National Lawyers Guild solicit us for written accounts as well? So we can just build up their files on activists, and activist contact information, and activities? To build up their files of testimonies about civil rights violations they are not going to do anything about? For god’s sake, more than 300 people are available for a class action suit against the City of Seattle for the March 22, 2003 police riot. The documentation of abuse on that occasion is rampant with statements released by clergy, local activist organizations and groups like the ACLU, in addition to the detailed first hand written accounts that I know many of us submitted. Can someone please tell me what possible justification the ACLU or National Lawyers Guild could have for *not* filing class action law suits on our behalves in these cases by now? Twelve anti-war protesters in Portland, Oregon were just awarded $300,000 in damages from the City, for similar behavior from the Portland Police in a similar time frame. Yet there is not even a lawsuit *filed* in Seattle for the police brutality here on hundreds of people in 2003 at anti-war protests and the LEIU protest. Why did these agencies solicit my personal information and testimony almost two years ago?

Let me tell you what happened on March 22, 2003. I feel it is important people understand the level of brutality I am talking about here. People who have not witnessed police acting like violent thugs firsthand cannot even imagine what I am talking about but I swear, I am telling the absolute truth about what happened here. Anti-war protesters had proper city permits to hold an anti-war protest at the Federal Building in downtown Seattle for several days once the war was declared in March. There was a stage, with a sound system. (The sound system, by the way, was rented to the peace community at a hefty price by a local “activist� who also plays the role of “police liaison� to the protesters, as we are attacked, which has made me laugh at the concept of “police liaisons� now. Fuck police liaisons. They are self-appointed mini-cops and do not protect protesters from anything. They endanger us, is my take on it.) So, I took my 19 year old, near draft aged, son to the protest with me that day.

When we got there, the Federal Building was lined with shoulder to shoulder riot police, maybe one in ten (?) had a visible name tag, and they wore helmets that looked like Darth Vader, and had plastic body armor on their shins, torso, etc. They all had huge baseball bat sized sticks, and they kept pounding them into their palms in anticipation. Some of the police aimed machine guns less than a foot from our heads. Others aimed “less lethal� guns at my son in front of me. These cops would not speak when spoken to, nor would they identify the agency they were with or their names when asked, as required by Seattle Municipal Code 3.28. They were apparently playing out some Star Wars fantasy on human beings on Seattle streets. I felt like I was in a bad sci-fi video game. Across the street, snipers aimed guns at us from rooftops and plaza courtyards. Government helicopters circled above. Tanks, yes I said *tanks*, were parked on the streets surrounding the Federal Building. Police cars from cities near and far lined the streets and unmarked black shiny government cars circled the building continually, taking pictures of protesters all day long. I have never seen so many black shiny cars on the streets as during those March anti-war protests. It was like the streets were full of them at all times. So, for you people in “third world� countries that America is now liberating so you, too, can have American free speech, this is what it looks like. American free speech looks like Darth Vader with a machine gun barrel aimed a foot from your nose, with Darth taunting, “Go ahead, speak…�

In the late afternoon on March 22, people decided to go for a peace march. Accompanied by the Infernal Noise Brigade, several hundred people peacefully walked down sidewalks, crossing with the lights, chanting anti-war slogans. Everything was peaceful and fine until all of a sudden, riot police blocked the protesters from the sidewalks on 1st Avenue, at Spring, just before the Pike Place Market, and forced them into the street, where police then began to attack them for being in the street! Lines of robocops began running down all the side streets around us. It was freaky. Everywhere you looked, through all side streets, you saw lines of running black robots. And wondered about your immediate fate! Once they had all their squads in line, the robocops pushed the protesters all into the area between Marion and Madison, on 1st Avenue. I was literally just standing on the sidewalk at 1st and Madison with my son, when, bam! I was all of a sudden contained.

Police, not protesters, came dressed to riot. Police, not protesters, came armed. Police, not protesters, were all pumped up to riot, and they were gonna riot, damn it. You knew all this armor and personnel could not just sit on this kind of tension for days, so we were going to get the wrath of their police violence. Because they had planned to riot on protesters. To intimidate us. I swore that day to be a staunch anarchist and never buckle to violent intimidation to silence my free speech for the rest of my life. The police began randomly beating people. My son looked at me with pure black dilated eyes and said, “Mom, they are beating up old men!� He had just seen them beating Tim Young, an older peace activist, whose head was bleeding from the police violence. My son and I watched police brutalize people in front of us, as I furiously wrote down physical descriptions and any numbers I could find on the helmets or uniforms of the violent police in front of me.

After about a half hour of containment, my son and I went to the copline to the north at Madison, and said “Let us out.� They said we had to go to the south end, at Marion, to exit. My son and I went to the south end and demanded we be released. They said I had to go to the east side to get out. We went to the east row of cops and they said I had to go to the north side to exit. My son called it the “revolving exit.� There was *no* exit.

I specifically *asked* to be let out because I went to law school and I understand the elements necessary for a false imprisonment. There is a legal issue here in that my son and I were committing no crimes. We were merely standing on a sidewalk on a public street. We were given no warning to leave or be contained. And most importantly, when I asked to leave, I was refused, repeatedly. An element necessary in false imprisonment is that you felt you could not leave, but more importantly and more persuasive, is if you *did* ask to leave and that request was flat out denied. Well, that element was amply met on March 22. I even have a witness that I asked to leave and was refused. That is called false imprisonment. You cannot hold someone against their will, who is committing no crime, for no reason, with no warning, even after they demand to be released, without it being a false imprisonment, unless you are a cop, apparently, and you do it to hundreds of people at a time!

The way my son and I finally got out of this containment was I took off my Palestinian scarf to try to reduce my standing out so brightly in the crowd for police terrorism. I made it into a ball and put it in my front vest pocket, which made a bulge. All of a sudden a Seattle cop grabbed me, and said, “Let her go, she’s pregnant.� Am I glad I never diet now! (And women, remember this tactic to use later: a rolled up sweater under a coat can make you look like you are pregnant, which scares violent cops apparently.) I grabbed my green haired son and bickered for a moment to make them let my son go out with me. We only got a few steps up Madison towards 2nd Avenue when a line of Federal riot cops in green and brown uniforms came marching down the street, and pushed me in my chest, saying “Get back down there.� My son and I were pushed by the Federal riot police back into the containment. I went right back to the Seattle Police who let me out originally, and they argued with the Federal Police that I was pregnant and should be let out. I was finally let out with my son, after about 40 minutes of containment, against my will, in yet another violent episode in the history of the Seattle Police Department *since* WTO in 1999.

The Federal Police touching my chest, and pushing their fingers into me, pushing my body down the street, was a battery. And them pushing me back into the containment was a second set of false imprisonment. I was definitely falsely imprisoned, several times, by the police on March 22, but I probably was also assaulted. Assault is about “fearing imminent danger.� The difference between assault and battery, at least as I was taught it, is that an assault occurs if you had *fear* of bodily harm, battery occurs when you *experience* bodily harm. You can be assaulted, via threats of torture, if you believe you could be tortured and such torture could be imminent, even if no torture or physical contact occurred. The threat became an assault. Battery occurs when action happens. But battery can occur without warning, without apprehension of harm, without an assault. Most batteries involve an assault, but many assaults do not include a battery.

I sent reports to the OPA and City Council with detailed physical, geographic and numeric descriptions of what police did on March 22. I attended City Council Public Safety Commission Meetings and testified repeatedly about this. I gave detailed reports (and any of you who read my work, know that when I say detailed, I *mean* it), to the ACLU and the National Lawyers Guild. I filled out city claim cards and gave them to Paul Richmond as he instructed me to do. I had reoccurring nightmares of assaults, batteries, and false imprisonments by robocops, and that is fully documented with a local psychiatrist. So in the nearly two years that has passed, what has happened regarding hundreds of citizens’ loss of civil rights on Seattle streets? Zero. Absolutely nothing that has been brought to my attention, and I am in the class that would be represented by such an action.

On June 2, 2003, the Seattle Police rioted again on unarmed, nonviolent protesters with a city permit for the protest. This time, the cops wanted to put on a show for the Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit, which was having its national convention in Seattle at the Red Lion Inn. From their rooms above, LEIU conference participants cheered as riot police brutalized minors, clergy, mothers, and journalists on the streets in front of them. As violent police indiscriminantly fired concussion grenades into the crowd and drenched protesters with pepper spray, the LEIU participants were titillated. Machine guns and “less lethal� guns were again aimed less than a foot from our heads, and again, more police did not wear name tags than did. We had unidentified gangs attacking us right on our public streets, and you didn’t need to call the cops, as they were already there! Again, there was a public outcry, letters were solicited, testimonies taken. And absolutely zero has been done that I can ascertain. No law suits have been filed against the City of Seattle for the June 2, 2003 police violence.

What disturbs me most about this is the message this sends to the cops and state. If we do not even have our act together enough to file class action suits when clear evidence of violations exist, then why would cops feel they have *any* accountability whatsoever? If cities were forced to pay out, like the $300,000 awarded to the 12 anti-war protesters in Portland, for similar events during a similar time frame as our Mar. 22 event, cities would rein in their violent cops, as it would cost the city too much money to let them run loose. If no one files a class action case in these two instances, then it is like handing police a carte blanche! I feel it is *imperative* that the City of Seattle, and Federal government really, as well, be sued for the March 22 riots on innocent civilians. The City of Seattle *must* be sued for the violence at the LEIU protests, as well. Otherwise we are just handing the police a free check to abuse us endlessly. And we are reinforcing that free check, every time we leave these violent events unchecked as has happened here in Seattle over the last few years.

The statute of limitations is running on these claims. There is a three year SOL on civil rights cases. So we have a little over 1 year left to pull this into a courtroom and demand justice. There appears to be no effort at all on the part of the Washington ACLU to represent us. Or at least they are hiding such intensions from the actual class members, which seems odd. The National Lawyers Guild is not representing me, Larry Hildes and Paul Richmond are not representing me. Hey, does anyone want to sue the City of Seattle and Federal government with a class action for documented violence against masses of people on two separate occasions in Seattle in 2003? I am willing to be the class representative and I meet the representative requirements. If an attorney does not step up to the plate soon, I am tempted to take this to small claims court, if nothing else. I want a judge to explain to me how I exercise my free speech in Seattle without fearing imminent bodily harm from police and false imprisonment, due to the past behaviors and unaccountability of the police. I want to know why I was attacked and contained. I want to know what warranted the machine gun less than a foot from my son’s head. I hope to never see a machine gun aimed at my son’s head ever again, thank you. I want explanations.

After this experience, I have to ask what good are the ACLU if they will not defend hundreds of citizens that they publicly acknowledge were wrongly attacked? The ACLU released a letter publicly condemning the violence on March 22, but then stopped there. If they acknowledge the violence was wrong, enough to write letters to the press and City of Seattle about it, shouldn’t they also be pursuing this in the courts? And is there not a single competent attorney in Seattle willing to take these cases to courtrooms now, years after the events? I am willing to be your client and I will help you write the briefs. This needs to be adjudicated.

And my advice to others after similar events of police violence is to be very guarded with your words. If agencies such as the ACLU want your written testimony, ask what they are committing to for that testimony. And do not ever, ever, give any testimony to the police department or any public agencies who claim to be police accountability groups but who are actually controlled by the police themselves. It makes no sense to cooperate with the enemy. The police would love nothing more than to get a hold of all the protesters’ personal complaints in writing before they get to courts. Not to mention all their contact information. Be stingy with all government agencies, and even non profit legal groups, who claim to be your ally after protests and police riots. Ask what you will get for the giving over such information *before* you talk. I wish now I had not given *any* reports to any agencies, seeing now they were not collecting them to help us, but rather more likely to spy on us. Find out who runs a police accountability group before you trust them. And here is a tip: Groups that use the term “CopWatch� are usually more trustworthy than those who use the term “police accountability.�
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Comments

Answering Andenberg's tirade

First of all this a long piece, almost too long to make a quick comment but here goes. I was in Seattle for the LEAA protests.Anderberg does a fairly good job of exposing what happened at that protest. She then goes into how she remarkably got herself out of custody, and then into a tirade about the ACLU and the National Lawyers Guild and some members of such. This tirade is what i fleele compelled to answer. Those arrested at teh LEAA had different circumstances.Some are suing in dividually or in small groups. To do a general class action is often unwise with people in different circumstances. The ACLU and the Guild evaluate things on many differnet matters. The fact that Ms. Annanberg admittedly falsified ber way out custody may be one reason she is not a reliable persom for the a lawsuit in thir courts. You need to have clean hands (no problems) to file a lawsuit. She obviously has many problems.
I disagree with her last thesis. One should not espect a return in giving the people's lawyers (epsecially the Nationl Lawsyers Guild) information. Whst they do with it may include helping defense cases, civil suits, and just our knowledge-base of what's going on. No good lawyer can promise anything like representation in a class action unitle thy see all the cirucmstances , and i know that the times i saw Mr Richmond and Mr. Hildes and the ACLU that dya they were not.
 

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