Source: Portland Indepependent Media Center
Date: June 25, 2005
A Firsthand Account In Philadephia: Part Two
Here is part two of my story. Part three is next. After a while things calmed down between police and demonstrators. After about an hour of a rather somber mood things started to pickup like they had been earlier that day with a much more positive feeling all about. People gathered around in a circle in the middle of the street and started to scream really loud, getting the attention of the delegates inside the convention center, more joined them and it got louder. As that was happening people started to form a line facing the police. It was only a few at first but the numbers grew to form a nice long line in front of the police where people sat peacefully, talking to themselves and informing some of the police why people were there.
Food Not Bombs had a wagon full of food that they were passing out and people were enjoying. Street medics were also giving out water to people who needed it. Fifteen minutes later or so suddenly a wave of about two hundred and fifty skateboarders came skating down the street in front of us in all lanes, no cars around to hinder them. They all joined the ranks of the people out there in front of the convention center curious to find out what was going on. The skateboarders stuck around for maybe five minutes and then decided to take off, their curiosity fed.
With loud cheers the skaters left in a massive wave that was very impressive. It was a mobile protest against their beloved Love Park being closed to skateboarders, and they were still going strong.
Suddenly just as the last of the skaters were leaving the cry went out, "LEGAL! WE NEED LEGAL HERE NOW!" from down the block. It seems that a police officer had been brushed up against by a skateboarder, so the skateboarder was arrested and thrown into a police wagon. I ran down there to find out more. As I got there with a rushing crowd of about 30 people a cop was being questioned by a young male why the person had been arrested. An officer said it was because "he touched an officer." The officer just kept repeating it over and over again. Then the police arrested the guy because he kept questioning them, zip-tying his hands and opening up the police wagon where people could see the young kid who first got arrested. It turns out that the kid the police first arrested was only ten years old. I learned this because a few of his friends came down and started to ask if anyone had seen him. They got really pissed after they found out, about the same age themselves and then skated away.
It was about 2:30 p.m. and people were told that everyone was going to disperse and meet back up in Love Park at 6:30 p.m. to continue the days events. Many people left, but many people decided to head to Love Park anyway. I was one of those people, walking down the street toward Love Park with everyone else in the street part of the way since the police had it all blocked off and were allowing people to move around as they pleased.
On my way to Love Park there were skaters going down rails. Lots of people were watching a kid about fifteen years old clear a thirty stair slide down to the bottom. It was really awesome to see, but was soon stopped by someone who stood at the top so nobody could skate down the rail any longer. With that, everyone moved to Love Park.
There were already lots of people in Love Park, the police had just kicked all the skateboarders out again and they were all standing around on the outside of the park annoyed by the police presence there keeping them out. Some of the protesters who had been demonstrating a little while ago gave their support as hundreds of people stood at one corner of the park. Once again people were allowed into the park as long as they didn't have skateboards. That's about the time some people chose to relax by jumping into the giant fountain in the middle of Love Park which sprays fifty to sixty feet into the air, surrounded by a pool about the same across, about a foot deep. It was a hot day so it helped some people out a lot. At about the same-time the skateboarders all took off, and shortly after the police left the park again.
About twenty minutes later skateboarders stormed the park cheering as they entered in this massive wave. They all surrounded the giant fountain in the middle of Love Park and started to tape their skateboards on the outer ring of the fountain all at the same-time making a really loud noise showing their solidarity with one another, they they were not just going to be pushed around and go away so easily. Skaters started to find stairs to jump off of, rails to go down, ledges to slide on, you name it.
Everything was going really well and was peaceful until two officer walked into a group of skateboarders on some steps in front of the fountain to Love Park. The police walked into the group of skateboarders and grabbed onto a young kid trying to drag him away. People there though weren't about to let that happen it seems because people in the crowd managed to free the kid and he got away.
This is when about five other officers walked into the crowd and started to try and assist the two other officers. Suddenly police for no reason started to push people with their batons and hit people with their hands. Not telling anyone to move back, just expecting people to do so.
This is when I got attacked. I had ran over to video tape what was going on as soon as I had seen the first two officers go onto the crowd. A lot of people ran over there to see what was going on as well. I had my camera and was video taping the police pushing and hitting people, forcing them to move back when one of the officers there after attacking someone else made me his target and started to hit my camera with his baton trying to stop me from filming. He hit my camera at least once with his baton and with his other hand was pushing my camera down so it wasn't on him taping. I had been at least ten to fifteen feet away from any officer and was not in anyones way what so ever. There was no order to move back or anything given either. Nor was there any notice given on how far people should move from any officer. The officer who had been attacking people was the same older white male who attacked me.
I had a press pass on which was clearly displayed which said in big bold black letters "PRESS" on it. There was no reason to have attacked me or anyone else in Love Park for that matter.
The officer ended up stopping because four of his fellow officers surrounded the older officer who assaulted a few other people and me. They walked around the rim of the fountain and as they did, people moved back along the rim of the fountain at the same pace as the officers walking.
The officers stopped on the other side of the fountain and stayed in a small group together not doing anything but talking to one another. That's when I walked up and stood maybe about five feet away from any officers with my video camera filming. I was trying to get the name and badge number of the police officer who had attacked me for no reason. He kept moving around so it was hard for me to see his name-tag. I was maybe about twenty feet away from the officer who attacked me, just standing there with my camera rolling. This went on for maybe a minute until the officer who attacked me about five minutes before jumped through the small group of officers from the other side with his hand out yelling "STOP FILMING ME!"
With that the officer pushed me some ripped my microphone off of my camera, breaking it off. Other officers came down and started to get really aggressive towards me while I was already backing off. In no way what so ever had I done anything to provoke or instigate any of this. I was simply trying to document the officers name from a distance.
As I was walking away one of the officers I don't know who since my back was turned took his baton and hit me between the legs from behind. He didn't hit his mark because I walked away, but did hit me none the less for no reason.
Checking to see if my camera was still working I moved away and sat down a distance away from any officer. I couldn't tell that anything was wrong with it besides the fact the microphone had been ripped off and some dents and scratches from the officer who attacked me.
A reporter from the Associated Press came up to me and asked me had just happened since he had been standing right there when it all happened, so I told him why I had been there standing and video taping. He saw that I had a press badge on and clearly thought what had just happened was wrong. I asked the Associated Press reporter if he cold help me out. He asked me how and so I asked if he could walk over to the officer and write down his name of me on his notebook. The Associated Press reporter said he would and walked over to where the officer who had attacked me was standing with a few other police officers, all dressed in blue. Since the Associated Press reporter was dressed like a business man the police really didn't pay any attention that I could see of the reporter writing down his name. When the reporter came back he showed me the name that he had written down. I asked him to write it down on a piece of paper for myself, so he did.
With that I went over to the legal observers who were documenting the police and their actions along with arrests, and so on. I told them what had happened and that I had video of an officer assaulting me. They gave me advice and I talked to them for a while, but I'm going to leave that out for now.
Anyway as it got later people started to leave Love Park, but the skateboarders stayed. They were having a great time, and the police didn't seem to mind now, just standing around watching and hanging out with other officers.
I decided to take a rest since I had been walking all over the place all day in the park and sat down in the shade. I then later left and came back an hour or so later. I got lost a little in a city I had only been in for a few days, but managed to back track to Love Park. It was getting close to 5:00 p.m. when I got back. I locked the bike I had across the street and walked back into the park and sat down in the grass again. Since there was something planned at 6:30 p.m. I decided I would wait around.
Around 5:45 p.m. the police showed up in force on bicycles. Some skateboarders saw this and decided to leave the park. Other stayed, but then were told to leave by other police officers who were walking into the park telling them to leave, so they did.
I stood there and watched it all and stayed in the park. It was full of mostly police and lots of undercover cops who were easy to see because they were all really big guys and were hanging out with each other in a large group.
As people arrived for the next demonstration food not bombs showed up and was passing out food to people who were hungry in Love Park. I decided to move from where I was and laid down on some grass on the other most edge of the park. A few minutes later I heard a guy start yelling and I got up to see what was going on. The police were arresting a guy who was making a sign with some markers and paper on one of the walls surrounding the park. He was using it as a flat surface to write on so he could made his sign. The guy who was a teenager from the look of it kept asking why he was being arrested over and over, but the police didn't say anything and took him away. I walked by an officer who was talking about to another officer saying, "we finally got him," whatever that means. I guess they were targeting him for something. I ended up getting some of the arrest of on video too before some under-covers started yelling at me to move away and then tried to block my view so I couldn't film the arrest.
Police had also at this point blocked off a corner closest to city hall and weren't letting anyone get through. They then later took off on their bikes out of the visible area around the park.
After a while it was almost 7:00 p.m. and the march started to leave the park towards the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The building can been seen very clearly from Love Park as everyone started to head in the direction of the museum. It wasn't really all that loud, but there was a group of five radical cheerleaders who made things more fun. In all the march had about 150 people. As everyone walked down the street while a heavy police escort I could see tents at the top of the museum steps where delegates were having dinner. Some were walking, some were arriving by bus. The walk to the museum from Love Park took about ten minutes.
When everyone arrived at the front steps of the museum there about a hundred cops on the steps, dozens of patrol cars parked at the base of the steeps on either side, motorcycles, and cops on bicycles all over the place.
There was also some animal rights activists protesting HLS and animal cruelty as everyone got there. They had very graphic signs and also multiple bullhorns as they chanted together making a ton of noise in front of the police. The protest I came with also was chanting, though not as loud but when they started to chant "shame! shame! shame!" over and over again the animal rights activists joined in too.
The delegates were in plain view and it was really easy to see them from a path they had been walking up. To make life harder the people who were there protesting the BIO conference walked over to where the delegates had been walking, forcing the police to make a line to keep people back as the protesters made the delegates walk past them heckling them over and over again. This went on for about forty-five minutes. It was pretty clear to me from watching the looks on the faces of the delegates they understood what the people there were all about.
I later heard that the police had arrested someone there very quickly. I only found out later because of a legal observer who had told me this. Why I have no idea, I just know it happened.
I stayed there and watched as people began to leave a few at a time over the course of the next thirty minutes or so. I stayed and talked to a few of the animal rights activists and waited around till they left. After that I decided to leave and started to head out, it was dusk now and I needed a rest from being out in the streets all day long.