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(en) US, Phoenixville, BAIL URGENTLY NEEDED FOR L/G/B/T ACTIVIST ARRESTED, BEATEN AT DEMONSTRATION

Date Mon, 05 Dec 2005 09:14:52 +0200


Three members of Philadelphia Anti-Racist Action were arrested
today at a peaceful demonstration in support of
Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender rights and reproductive freedom
in Phoenixville, PA. One of the arrested was badly beaten by police
and had to be hospitalized. All information as to his health,
whereabouts, charges, and bail is being withheld by police. The
remaining two arrestees were charged with violating a provision of
the USA PATRIOT Act pertaining to supplying identification to law
enforcement personnel and later released.
The demonstration took place outside the home of two organizers
with the notorious queer-bashing and anti-reproductive freedom
organization, Repent America, whose members regularly harrass
and intimidate members of the L/G/B/T community and disrupt
events such as AIDS fundraisers and pride festivals. The legality of
such demonstrations has been clearly established through various
precedents, but police forcibly ended the gathering, arresting the
three individuals, severely injuring one of them. A similar
demonstration took place earlier in the day in a neighboring town,
and although police were present, it proceeded without any incident
whatsoever.

Despite the fact that the individuals were peacefully attempting to
call attention to the Repent America organizers' attempts to incite
violence against queer and transgendered individuals and terrorize
their communities, they have been charged with violating a provision
of the USA PATRIOT Act, ostensibly a set anti-terrorist laws, which
have instead been used to target nonviolent political activists. By
using the USA PATRIOT Act against such activists, law
enforcement personnel are attempting to equate peaceful protest,
and even dissent itself, with terrorism. This has a chilling effect on
individuals' willingness to publicly disagree with government policy,
or even with organizations such as Repent America, which regularly
attempt to incite violence against women and queers.

The misuse of the USA PATRIOT Act is only one tactic used by law
enforcement agencies in the war against dissent. The injured
protester had been violently thrown to the ground and then slammed
into the side of a police car before being taken away. He is believed
to still be in custody, but police are refusing to divulge any
information about his charges or medical condition. It is further
unknown if and when he will be permitted to post bail.

Members of Philadelphia Anti-Racist Action are calling on
individuals to contribute to a fund being readied in the event the
activist is permitted to post bail. It is imperative that his release be
secured as soon as possible in order to ensure that he receives
appropriate medical care. Anyone able to contribute is urged to
contact Tom Keenan at 609-468-9562, or email him at
tompkeenan@gmail.com.
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