October 14, 2009

Over 30 anti-war demonstators address Rochester City Council

On October 7th Rochester police attacked a peaceful anti-war demonstration. Two people were hospitalized and twelve were arrested. Yesterday the people came to the City Council demanding an independent investigation of the brutal police action.

Vicki Ryder's letter published in today's Democrat and Chronicle (emphasis mine):

Confront brutality at home, abroad

Should peaceable citizens of a democracy be required to obtain a permit from the police to exercise their rights of free speech and assembly? Perhaps.

Should peaceable citizens of a democracy be prepared to be arrested if they break the law? Absolutely.

Should peaceable citizens of a democracy have their bodies slammed to the ground, their faces ground into the cement and their lips split open by the arresting officers? Absolutely not!

Police brutality is symptomatic of the brutality of our whole society. A nation that occupies and brutalizes other countries will do the same to its own people, especially those who speak out in opposition to its policies, or those who are of a different color or speak a different language. Whether we agree with the sentiments of the anti-war demonstrators or not, the issue of police brutality is one that must concern us, and we should stand in support of those who are victimized by it. There is no excuse for the outrageous and brutal behavior of the Rochester police last Wednesday.


Her remarks to the City Council:

You’ve got a hard job. But your course of action in this instance is clear.

The fact is that members of the Rochester Police Department threw peaceable and unarmed citizens to the ground, ground their faces into the cement, and bashed their faces into lampposts.

There can be NO justification for that unwarranted brutality. A well-trained police force should be able to arrest people, if necessary, without brutalizing them. The group they attacked last Wednesday included students, veterans, young children, working people. All were unarmed and all were non-violent.

I read a recent posting on Facebook by a student of Criminal Justice at MCC who’s preparing to join our Police force. She wrote:

[I’m] “heated about those stupid ppl who protested anti war stuff in the middle of Rochester... i cant wait to push u to the... ground and scrape ur chin on the cement...”

She can’t wait!! Sadly, her thirst for blood is not an aberration. It is symptomatic of the brutality of our society. We send our soldiers to brutalize the people of other countries, and now our police are brutalizing our own.

If this city wants to see an end to violence on its streets, then Council MUST demand an immediate, full, and impartial investigation into last Wednesday’s police action (and who ordered it), and demand that appropriate action be taken against any officer who used unnecessary force.

Council also must insist that all charges be dropped against anyone wrongfully arrested.

Additionally, we must work to eliminate from our police force those out-of-control officers whose racism and whose disdain for civil liberties threaten us all. When citizens have to be afraid of their police, then we are living in a police state.

Thanks to the videographers of IndyMedia, the whole world has seen what happened on Main Street last Wednesday, and they’re now waiting to see what YOU will do.

And so are we....

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