Cheryl Biren observed, "after having been released into the streets of philly, doors locked behind us, in the pitch black without being allowed to turn on our phones while inside to secure our rides. such chivalry."
Biren was with five other women, including Debra Sweet, head of worldcantwait.com, and Elaine Brower of Military Families Speak Out when put outside the jail. (Bowers is also an editor of OpEdNews.com.)
All six were charged with "criminal conspiracy" and "failure to disperse."
Here's what I witnessed:
The police were arresting six demonstrators. The demonstrators were peaceful and cooperating with the police. OpEdNews.com managing editor was on the scene, covering the event as a photographer. She had not carried signs, had not shouted with the protesters. She was there strictly as a journalist-- as the many police videos and photos will prove.
She was at the front of a group of other onlookers who were watching the police arrest the demonstrators who had separated themselves from the crowd. All of a sudden, one plain clothes police officer rushed forward and roughly grabbed Biren, as she was photographing the arrests, pulling her from the crowd and forced her to the area where the protesters being arrested were standing. She protested that she was a reporter, a member of the press. I, as publisher of OpEdNews, reinforced her claim immediately, to no avail. She was put into temporary plastic handcuffs which were made so tight her wrist was injured. A number of observers and legal consultants agreed that her use of a professional camera, taking photos of the arrest was probably a factor in her arrest. Biren thought fast and before the cuffs were placed on her she removed the chip storing the images from her camera and hid it in her bag so she still had the photos. They can be seen here
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OpEdNews managing editor, Cheryl Biren, on the scene in lower left, taking photos, of Elaine Bowers being arrested. Biren can clearly be seen as part of a crowd of onlookers, not in the space police were clearing where arrests were taking place. No other onlookers were arrested,
That started a 14 hour journey in a prisoner bus, to two jails. During that time police lied to her and me about how long she would be in custody. Apparently, this is a common practice by the police, telling prisoners that they will be held a much longer time than actually happens.
Ultimately, the six women of the seven arrested were separated from the one man and taken to the main holding prison for Philadelphia and they were released at about 5:00 AM the next day-- fourteen hours later. The male, seventh protester, who was not transferred to the center city Philly jail was released at 9:00 AM.
The good news is that the Army Experience Center closed for the day, on a Saturday at the Franklin Mills Mall. That made the protest a success. Local readers may want to consider boycotting the mall. The police used trespassing as their reason to arrest, when they announced that protesters must leave. Apparently, they changed the charges later.
The arraignment date for the Biren and the 5 protesters is Sept. 23 at 1301 Filbert St. at 11:30 AM. Map: http://bit.ly/Arraignment
The story has received wide play in progressive venues, but could be covered a lot more.
By Linda Milazzo
OpedNews Journalist and Six Protesters Charged With Criminal Conspiracy After Arrest At "Army Experience Center"
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The press should not be treated this way. Please do what you can to get this story out.
Call the mayor of Philadelphia, Mayor Michael Nutter.
Call the Philadelphia District Attorney's office. It is a frightening situation when the press can't cover arrests of peaceful protesters when they are turned into political prisoners. The police should be disciplined for their actions.