"Land of the Free" And All That
"Grim warehouse set to process convention arrests
- AP foreign
- Friday August 15 2008
By P. SOLOMON BANDA
Associated Press Writer
DENVER (AP) - Individuals arrested at the Democratic
National Convention will be processed at an industrial
warehouse with chain-link cells topped by razor wire, a
facility some have compared to the U.S. prison at Guantanamo
Groups planning marches, concerts and other events during
the Aug. 25-28 convention dub the center ``Gitmo on the Platte,''
for the nearby South Platte River.
The Denver sheriff's office, which operates city and county
jails, insists anyone taken to the center will be there only a few
hours while they're fingerprinted, issued a court date and released
after posting bail. Others will be transferred to facilities designed
for longer detentions.
``Of course if the numbers are overwhelming, that's all going to
be out the door,'' said Capt. Frank Gale, a sheriff's spokesman.
``If we're inundated with a bunch of civil unrest, it doesn't matter
how well we prepare. If we get severe numbers it's going to take
us forever'' to process those in custody.
Video footage of the north Denver warehouse on Denver's
KCNC-TV showed coils of razor wire topping chain-link cells.
A sign read: ``Electric stun devices used here.''
Gale said each cell will be about 20-by-20 feet. He refused to
say how many people could be processed there.
``It's just ridiculous, the thing looks like a dog pound,'' said
Mark Cohen of the protest group Recreate-68 Alliance.
``Even if you only put dogs in there, people will be complaining
about it. I think you ought to have the Red Cross and Amnesty
International come take a look at this thing.''
Mayor John Hickenlooper's office said police will ask people to
voluntarily comply with their orders before arresting anyone.
``The city does not anticipate the need for widespread arrests,'' the
mayor's office statement said, but it noted ``the intention of some
organizations to deliberately get arrested.''
The American Civil Liberties Union and the People's Law Project
have been talking with the city about giving attorneys access to
detainees. The city said attorneys can meet clients in court, not at
ACLU-Colorado legal director Mark Silverstein said city officials
told him detained protesters will be taken by bus to the facility,
about 2 miles northeast of downtown. Those who are unable or
refuse to post bail will be taken to a downtown city jail to await
a court date.
Silverstein said warehouse cells won't have running water,
bathrooms or telephones. Gale said deputies will escort anyone
needing those services."