Thursday, June 4, 2009
two court hearings you should not miss witnessing--June 5th & June 12th
1) Arturo Castillion is filing a motion to dismiss for the charge of "assaulting a police officer", when as documentary evidence shows, it was three police officers that wrestled him to the ground unresisting.
Here are Arturo's own words:
"On March 13th, I participated in a demonstration of sixty people, organized by Poverty is not a Crime (PINAC), against the controversial Northampton Business Improvement District (NBID). While playing music and serving free food outside city hall, we distributed informational cards about the BID, encouraging the passersby to boycott BID businesses and call their city councilors. After this we marched peacefully down Main Street, dancing and chanting our opposition to the BID and its agenda.
"Onlookers and protesters watched with surprise and frustration as the Northampton police violently responded to this peaceful assembly.
"From the time the demonstrators began to march down the street, police became very aggressive—pushing us around and yelling into our faces about not having a permit. [We had never been told we needed a permit before for a small scale sidewalk protest.] Yes, it’s true, we didn’t have a permit, but the first amendment is also supposed be worth something! I guess it’s not. As soon as I tried to deescalate the situation by explaining to officer Satkowski that we would get off the street once we reached the crosswalk (the part of the road which was wheelchair accessible)[we had disabled people with us who needed the detour], he body-checked me, and when I didn’t move, he grabbed my right arm while two other cops jumped on me. While I was pinned to the ground, fully cooperating with my arrest, Satkowski unnecessarily twisted my hand as another officer forcefully shoved my face into the asphalt several times.
"It is clear that the police went out of their way to intimidate and arrest people. Shortly after my arrest, David Beyer (who was 15 years old at the time) was arrested while assisting BB Sunshine with her wheelchair, leaving her alone in the road; BB Sunshine herself was shoved by police right before my arrest. The Northampton and Easthampton police then prepared for mass arrests, with about fourteen officers (one of them a state officer), five cars, and multiple vans. A detective in plainclothes was also on the scene photographing everyone. [Yet a police sergeant interviewed by the Gazette called the fact that we snapped pictures of the arresting officers and asked for badge numbers, as was our right, "hostile" and "anti-police".]
"Because I took part in this demonstration and exercised my supposed first amendment rights, I am currently facing charges of disorderly conduct and assault and battery on a police officer (a charge commonly brought against arrested protesters as a scare tactic), despite the fact that I was the one who was assaulted by the police unprovoked. I am being represented in court by Luke Ryan and have decided to plead not guilty to the charges. Any fund raising efforts and donations for legal expenses would be greatly appreciated and can be communicated to me through my email, Arturocastillon@gmail.com. My motion to dismiss hearing is Friday, June 12th at 8:45 AM in the Northampton District Court, in courtroom #1, please come and show your support."
Here's some media on the protest and the arrests, including some Advocate coverage.
2)Tomorrow, June 5th, at 8:30 AM, Alfonso Southerland, victim of alleged police brutality, will have a hearing in absentia on shoplifting charges while still in a coma. Come support his family and see if there will be any progress made on what happened to Southerland, not just what happened to Urban Outfitter's merchandise for the few minutes Southerland had it in his possession.