Critics May Sue Over GOP Convention Arrest Tactics

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New York City activists and civil libertarians complain that the use of orange plastic nets to corral large numbers of people for arrests at the Republican National Convetion and the extended detentions of protesters violated the most basic constitutional freedoms, says the Christian Science Monitor. Critics also say some of the most spirited protests were thwarted under the guise of the threat of terrorism. Several groups may bring civil rights litigation against the city. Legal scholars believe some boundaries were crossed and feel it’s important for the courts to assess the tactics and set clear parameters for the future. Authorities say they were doing their best under extraordinary circumstances. “The problem is not what happened in New York. That’s over and it was not bad,” says Harvard law Prof. Alan Dershowitz. “The problem is how this precedent could be used in the future by other police forces to control the content of speech.”

More than 1,800 people were arrested – a record number for a convention. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly calls the charge that the police purposely slowed the processing of defendants “patently false.” Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the city arrests on average 300 people a day and it takes 24 hours to process them. “We had to process 1,200 people in one day rather than our normal 300 people,” he says. “The judge says it’s unreasonable to take more than 24 hours. I don’t know what we could have done.”

Link: http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0908/p02s01-usju.html

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