Preventative Detention

Little Guantanamo is a part of New York City's Pier 57, located at the western end of 57th Street, jutting out into the Hudson River. It is so named because it is reportedly similar in appearance to the USA's prison complex at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It is owned by the Hudson River Trust (a city/state consortium), though its minor (!) infamy arose from its lessee at the end of August 2004 -- the Republican National Committee.

As you may, or may not, be aware, the 2004 Republican National Convention was held in New York City. During the convention, an innumerable number of protests covered the city, especially on the day that president George W. Bush was scheduled to speak. The RNC leased Pier 57 to use as a detainment facility, similar to the one they'd erected in Cuba, to hold suspected terrorists in the wake of their "war on terrorism" after the events of September 11, 2001.

Over the course of the convention, over 1700 people (many of whom weren't even protestors) were arrested and detained at Little Guantanamo for over 40 hours, without due process, without access to anything that arrested persons are normally allowed, such as legal counsel, telephones, opportunities to post bail, and so on. The number of people arrested is nearly triple the amount of those arrested at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. People partaking in protests were rounded up by the NYPD (contracted by the RNC) along with random bystanders (city park workers, pedestrians, commuters, etc), handcuffed, loaded into city buses, then taken to Little Guantanamo for "preventative detention," which is patently unconstitutional. The detainment facility was a burned-out husk of an old warehouse that had recently burned partially down. Its floor was reportedly covered with the remains of burnt parts of the building, along with puddles of oil and asbestos particles. Detainees were not told why they were arrested, or given food. They also had their belongings (whatever they were carrying at the time of their arrest) confiscated, which meant that many people had no access to medicines they might've required. They were reportedly threatened by the maintainers of the facility, but beyond that no one knew why they were there.

A few of the people held were charged with administrative violations, though as yet what those entailed has not been brought to light. An administrative violation is a lesser offence then a misdemeanor (i.e., jaywalking, double parking, and similar offences), so it is likely that they won't be very serious offences.

After some 40 hours, most of the detainees were transferred to various city jails, where they were finally processed and most, filthy, hungry, and frightened, were released.

Early reports state that detainees were offered an opportunity for early release if they signed a waiver waiving their right to an attorney and their right to sue for wrongful arrest. Early reports also point out that the RNC and the city of New York had been planning this for about a year, knowing that massive protests were likely to occur during the convention. You might find yourself wondering, as I do, who are the terrorists here? Were they the people locked up and treated like felons simply for exercising their constitutionally-guaranteed right to assemble? Or were they the talking heads in charge of the RNC, who rounded up and imprisoned 1700 people for no real reason?

This is your government (if you live in the USA, and in a few years, if the USA conquers most of the rest of the world). This is the sort of thing you can expect to happen with much greater frequency if it is allowed to remain in power. Next time it may be your turn to be held without cause or concern for your health and safety.

 

Sources:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A57531-2004Sep2.html
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http://www.mauinews.com/story.aspx?id=1082

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