Tuesday, September 06, 2005

POLICE ATTACK NON-VIOLENT PROTESTORS WITH TASERS

PITTSBURGH POLICE ATTACK NON-VIOLENT PROTESTORS WITH TASERS,
PEPPER SPRAY AND K-9 UNITS
Counter-Recruitment Demonstration Ends in Five Arrests and Two Hospitalizations

Pittsburgh, PA – The Pittsburgh Police Department displayed an excessive use of
force at a demonstration yesterday outside a military recruitment station
located near the University of Pittsburgh. Five were arrested, two were
hospitalized and several others received injuries as a result of police
unwarranted use of Tasers, pepper spray, retracting batons and K-9 units. Two
others were issued citations when they complained about police misconduct.

Yesterday's protest marks the first time in the city's history that police used
Tasers on demonstrators. Dramatic Indymedia video shows police dragging a young
woman off the sidewalk and Tasering her mercilessly as she lay on the street
screaming—and this after she was pepper-sprayed directly in the face. The video
clearly demonstrates that she posed no threat to the police or anyone else when
she was Tasered, marking a clear violation of the city's official guidelines
for the use of these controversial weapons. The activist was taken to UPMC
Presbyterian Hospital for treatment and remains in police custody.

Police also used K-9 units to chase away protestors on the sidewalk. A 68-year
old grandmother was bitten from behind by a police dog and then arrested and
placed in an unventilated police van in the hot sun where she remained for 45
minutes before she, too, was finally taken to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital for
treatment.

In addition, police pepper sprayed a four year-old girl, toppled a man with
Multiple Sclerosis in his motorized wheel chair and clubbed a number of
protestors with retracting metal batons.

At the time of the police attacks activists were peacefully assembled on the
sidewalk in front of the recruiting station, which had opted to remain closed
for the day in response to yesterday's call for non-violent direct action by
Pittsburgh Organizing Group (POG). It marked the second time this month that
POG had pre-emptively shut down military recruitment at that station, which is
the headquarters for military recruitment in the city. (For more information
Pittsburgh Organizing Group's counter-recruitment campaign, visit
www.OrganizePittsburgh.org .)

POG is alarmed by yesterday's events. In the past two years, more than 150
people have been killed by Tasers. Amnesty International, the ACLU and other
groups have called for a moratorium on their use. In response to a public
outcry to police abuse of Tasers, a number of cities have imposed restrictions
on Taser use, cancelled orders or pulled them from circulation. The
manufacturer, Taser International, is facing multiple lawsuits.

POG is demanding an official investigation into the police conduct at
yesterday's demonstration and an immediate halt to the use of Tasers by the
Pittsburgh Police Department. Copies of video documentation of yesterday's
police abuses can be obtained by calling David or Nathan at the numbers listed
above or by emailing pog@mutualaid.org.

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