[HPN] *9 ARRESTED in Housing Takeover at anti-IMF protests in DC AP 15 Sat Sat

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Mon, 17 Apr 2000 23:33:19 -0700 (PDT)

FWD  http://dc2.indymedia.org/display.php3?article_id=909

Independent Media Center, Washington, DC


Monday 17 Apr 2000
author: Mary Xmas (walkingwarzone@hotmail.com)


Saturday in the Shaw area of DC, nine activists were dragged down from the
roof of a house that had been left empty and unused by the city for some
time. Supporters on the ground stood on the steps to keep police from
entering the building but were forced to move a block away by cops in full
riot gear. The activists were drawing attention to housing and eviction
issues and had planned to open the space to the community and homeless.
They were kept in jail and denied most of their legal rights, such as the
right to legal counsel and drinking water. All nine have since been

   In their attempt to provide housing for the many visiting activists, the
displaced families, and the homeless of DC, nine activists were arrested
and charged with unlawful entry. The Saturday arrests took place during a
public, media-friendly action that addressed issues of local evictions and
displacement of lower income residents. Many neighborhoods in DC have seen
rampant evictions as higher income people move into the city from outlying
suburbs, Virginia, and Maryland. Landlords often use tactics such as
leaving town, shutting off utilities, and leaving the buildings in states
of disrepair, at which point the city evicts residents "for safety
reasons," opening the properties up to renovations and sales for high
profits. Houses with water and electricity sit unused as families sit in
emergency shelters downtown. The housing action, taking place under the
umbrella of the Free Land Action Group (FLAG), may have proved that the
abandoned buildings of DC are in fact livable and should be made available
to the public.

   Most of the nine arrestees (five women and four men) used solidarity
tactics such as going limp during arrest and refusing to give any personal
information until they saw lawyers. As they were carried out of the
building, the activists were mistreated by police. One man was kicked in
the face repeatedly by an officer while his arms were cuffed behind his
back and feet were held out. Most of the women, after being illegaly
searched by male officers, were set down in handcuffs outside in an area
with up to three feet of water, one with her shirt pulled all the way up
over her chest. Once in the holding cells the all were denied the right to
legal counsel, even as lawyers stood outside trying to get in to see their
clients. At 5AM the FLAG nine were moved to another jail where they were
denied food. About two hours later they were moved to the Federal
Courthouse. They were lied to: told that they faced federal charges and
that they would be strip-searched. Once inside the women kept solidarity
and refused to be strip searched. The U.S. Marshals complied until the
women were taken into a room with a closed door and told to remove their
pants and underwear. Among the arrestees were those detained for parading
without permit. The Flag women were not told what their charges were until
they were finally allowed to see legal counsel. By that time, one woman had
been kept in a questioning area (not a cell) that had no toilet, and
refused water for eight hours. Flag activists interacted with those who had
been arrested during the Anti-Prison/Industrial Complex march, and heard
stories of those women and girls being kept cuffed in busses without water
or toilets for up to fifteen hours. Some who asked for water or lawyers
inside the cells were taken out and chained up in isolation. All the women
arrested were told that there was no food in the entire building, though
many had not eaten for forty hours. Many came in to the cells with black
eyes, twisted ankles, head pain, and extreme bruises caused by arresting

  All of the FLAG activists have been released at this point, but will
return to DC for sentencing on June 28th. There is a lawsuit against the
Metropolitan Police Dept. for the treatment of the mass action arrestees.


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