39 West 14 Street, Room 206
New York, NY 10011
(212) 633-6646 fax: (212) 633-2889
25, 2000, 2:30 pm
IAC Co-Director acquitted in Washington DC
trial in aftermath of April 15 police preventive detention action
In an important legal ruling, Brian Becker, a co-director of
the International Action Center (IAC), was acquitted of disorderly
conduct and unlawful assembly in the Superior Court of the District
of Columbia today. Becker faced 90 days in jail for a charge
stemming from the mass police arrests of demonstrators on April
was defended by DC attorney Mark Goldstone. Goldstone, who represented
many of the defendants stemming from the April 15-17 arrests,
said to a group of supporters after court: "This was an important
victory because the court recognized that what was at stake
was the first amendment right to demonstrate.
has national implications because it is precisely this right
which we have seen was under attack in Seattle and at the demonstrations
at Philadelphia and Los Angeles in front of the Republican and
was acquitted in a ruling by Associate Judge Harim Puig-Lugo
of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Judge Puig-Lugo
ruled that the government had failed to prove its case that
the demonstrators on April 15 and Becker in particular had engaged
in an "unlawful assembly." 678 people were arrested on April
15 when police illegally closed a whole downtown block in Washington
DC and arrested demonstrators, tourists, shoppers and passers-by
in what has been described as the largest act of preventive
detention in recent decades in the United States.
demonstration was called by the International Action Center
to demand "Shut down the Prison-Industrial Complex" on the day
prior to the planned demonstrations to "Shut down the IMF and
World Bank" in Washington DC on April 16-17. "We were arrested
in a planned act of preventive detention by the police," said
Becker. "They wanted to put us in jail not because we were breaking
a law but because they wanted to clear the streets prior to
the scheduled April 16-17 meeting of that vultures' club that
goes by the name of the IMF."
many of the cases stemming from the April 15 demonstration were
later dismissed by the government, the Washington DC district
attorney proceeded with the trial against Becker, who is one
of the named plantiffs in a massive class action law suit charging
that the police and government conspired to violate the first
and fourth amendment rights of demonstrators. "We believe they
proceeded with this trial because they wanted to get a conviction
to defend themselves against the class action law suit charging
unlawful arrests for the more than 1,300 people arrested that
weekend," charged Becker.
outcome of our Sept. 25 trial and the class-action lawsuit will
have great importance in the legal battle to push back the forces
of police repression," according to Becker. "We must use every
avenue to defend our rightsin the courts and in the streets.
"The limited democratic rights that exist in the United States
were not a gift given to the people by the rich and powerful.
These 'rights' were won through struggle and we intend to keep
struggling," he said.
who want to participate in the class action law suit defending
the rights of those arrested on April 15-17, as a witness or
a potential plantiff, should go to www.justiceonline.org/a16.
The law suit is proceeding and information regarding witnesses
and potential plantiffs is urgently requested.
International Action Center
West 14th Street, Room 206
New York, NY 10011
phone: 212 633-6646 fax: 212 633-2889