Gitmo On The Platte: The Police State Lives In Denver

cross-posted from The Dream Antilles

Just in case you thought that exercising your Constitutional Right to assemble in Denver,  engage in non-violent protest and perhaps participate in civil disobedience at the Democratic National Convention was going to be easy and humane, the NY Times informs in an article entitled, “Grim Warehouse Set To Process Convention Arrests,” that is not to be the case.  The Government has set up a mini-Gitmo to handle pesky protesters who get arrested in Denver.  And they’re telling you about it now, so you’ll reconsider your plans.  And maybe stay home.

Individuals arrested at the Democratic National Convention will be processed at an industrial warehouse with chain-link cells topped by razor wire, a facility some have compared to the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay. /snip

The Denver sheriff’s office, which operates city and county jails, insists anyone taken to the center will be there only a few hours while they’re fingerprinted, issued a court date and released after posting bail. Others will be transferred to facilities designed for longer detentions.

Of course if the numbers are overwhelming, that’s all going to be out the door,” said Capt. Frank Gale, a sheriff’s spokesman. ”If we’re inundated with a bunch of civil unrest, it doesn’t matter how well we prepare. If we get severe numbers it’s going to take us forever” to process those in custody. /snip  A sign [at the facility] read: ”Electric stun devices used here.”

Gale said each cell will be about 20-by-20 feet. He refused to say how many people could be processed there.  /snip

ACLU-Colorado legal director Mark Silverstein said city officials told him detained protesters will be taken by bus to the facility, about 2 miles northeast of downtown. Those who are unable or refuse to post bail will be taken to a downtown city jail to await a court date.

Silverstein said warehouse cells won’t have running water, bathrooms or telephones. Gale said deputies will escort anyone needing those services.

Great.  A mini-Gitmo on the Platte.  20 x 20 cells with an unknown number of people in them, for an unknown period of time, without food, water or toilets.  And the idea that if there are too many people, whatever planning there was would be overwhelmed.  And then those incarcerated would be stuck.

You’ll pardon me, but it reminds me of this 1964 event when there were too many protesters and too few cells:

The Natchez occurrence included the arrest of plaintiffs while engaged in a civil rights march without a parade permit on one of the principal streets of Natchez, and their subsequent detention at the city auditorium for several hours. The arrests took place on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, October 2, 3, and 4, 1964 under the same circumstances. snip  The remaining arrestees were removed to the Parchman State Penitentiary on commercial buses, three busloads on Saturday, two on Sunday and one on Monday. snip

One facet of this special treatment was that each person was compelled to take a laxative upon admission to maximum security. He applied this procedure to the arrestees who testified. Another tactic then employed in this section of the prison was that male prisoners were deprived of their clothing and issued underwear as their sole wearing apparel while confined. This tactic was doubly imposed on the male arrestees. They were stripped of their clothing and left naked for varying periods of time, some for as long as 36 hours. None were issued underwear. Some were allowed to claim and wear their own underwear; one was allowed to wear the top to his underwear but not his shorts.

As to the female arrestees who testified, they were compelled to take the laxative. They were deprived of their coats and other outer garments, stockings and shoes, but were allowed to wear their dresses and undergarments.

All arrestees were confined in cells designed to accommodate two persons, having two bunk beds, one lavatory, and one commode. They were not given mattresses, pillows or cover. The temperature ranged from 60~ to 70~. From four to eight persons were placed in each of the cells. They slept on the bare steel beds or on the floor. They huddled together for warmth.

That’s what tends to happen when the planning is overwhelmed, the authorities make other arrangements. And they make them without consultation from representatives of those who’ve been arrested.  They do what they want to do how they want to do it.

The purpose for telling you this now, of reminding me about this now, just before the convention?

It’s called a “chilling effect.”  You’ll be hesitant to exercise your rights, to protest, to be arrested, to engage in any sort non-violent civil disobedience that might result in arrest, authorities think, if you believe that your arrest will be extremely unpleasant, hours upon hours of confinement without running water, without bathrooms, without contact with those outside.  

If large numbers of protesters mean that the Government’s planning is “all going to be out the door” if large numbers of people are arrested, leave aside what a “large number” might mean in this case, who do you think is going to be taking those arrested to the bathroom?  Who do you think is going to make sure those arrested have food and water?  Who do you think is going to make sure that those arrested receive adequate medical attention if they need it while in confinement?  I think you know the answer.

The question is whether this makes one shrivel, or whether it makes one more steadfast.  Either way, the story from Denver is just plain appalling.