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By 2:25 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28, lawyer Julie Abbate had arrived at D.C. Superior Court under the close watch of U.S. marshals. Once in the building, Abbate says, she was put up against a wall and patted down. The officers then told her to pull down her green slacks and underwear, squat, and cough. “I thought they were kidding,” Abbate says. “They weren’t.” She felt stupid. “Every order I obeyed—even ‘Take off your fucking pants and cough.’”
Orders to take off your pants and cough are standard operating procedure for processing an arrestee in D.C.
But standard procedure took on a new meaning in the mass sweep that corralled Abbate and more than 400 other innocent people in Pershing Park on Friday, Sept. 27. It was the first day of a protest that was supposed to shut the city down, spread the gospel of anti-globalization, and plead for a U.S. foreign policy based on peace and love.
Many bystanders, such as Abbate, wandered into the fray, unaware of the police department’s protocol for handling civil demonstrations. She ended up being arrested that morning in Pershing Park, at 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW. The charge was failure to obey a police order, the same rap applied to her fellow arrestees. She spent five hours handcuffed on a bus. Eventually, she was hogtied wrist-to-ankle on the floor of the police academy’s gym. That lasted for another 12 hours.
On Saturday morning at 5 a.m., Abbate was transferred to central booking downtown. She and other Pershing Park arrestees crammed into a cell consisting of cement floors, one bench, and one toilet. They had to form a “pee wall” to prevent officers from watching them go to the bathroom. Officers took their time processing them; some even threatened to leave them in custody through the weekend.
“That’s what you get,” taunted the officers, according to the 36-year-old Abbate.
Eight hours later, they were transferred to Superior Court, where they went through the squat-and-cough routine. They were moved to a cell that became so crowded that arrestees had to stand on the toilet to make room. “It was exhausting, infuriating, bewildering, maddening,” Abbate says. “It made me feel really, really helpless.”
Police Chief Charles Ramsey viewed the treatment of Abbate and her cellmates as something of a coup. As the whole drama at Pershing Park unfolded that Friday morning, Ramsey looked on from the middle of 15th Street. He leaned against a standard-issue riot baton he used for a cane as his troops rounded up the 400-odd arrestees. The arrests were choreographed so well, all he had to do was wait.
One man, maybe two, hollered questions at Ramsey. Why are those demonstrators being detained? What did they do wrong? These were easy questions to ignore, especially if you were accompanied by an entourage of blue.
Metrobuses 8733 and 8734, two of many filled with Pershing Park arrestees, were shoving off to muted applause from activists. Soon the riot cops trotted away, two by two. Then the bike cops left, with their supervisor shouting, “Thanks to everybody!” Ramsey started back to his cruiser.
Ramsey shuffled against his makeshift cane down Pennsylvania Avenue. He took his time, turning back once to see that everything was quiet. On this day, downtown was his living room, where cops could double-park, set out rolls of police tape, form pop-up police lines, and arrest 400 people without dirtying a uniform.
At a late-afternoon victory lap before the media, Ramsey took to the bouquet of microphones assembled in front of police headquarters and rattled off the one statistic that mattered—the number of arrests for the day: 649. He praised his force for performing “very well.” There was already a buzz about Pershing Park—something about arbitrary arrests. “We gave warnings,” Ramsey said, Mayor Anthony A. Williams smiling behind him. “We followed everything by the book!”
“Remember, they had no business being in the street,” Ramsey continued, playing offense. “There was no parade. You can’t just take over Pennsylvania Avenue. You just can’t take over 15th Street. For the last four months, these folks been talking about shutting down the city. When they do something like that and they fail to move, I can only presume that’s what they intended to do. And that happens to be illegal. And we took the action that was appropriate.” Ramsey added that those arrested would be processed promptly.
As video footage and first-person accounts show, the park events constitute one of the most serious collective violations of civil rights in this city since the Vietnam War era—or at least since the last major anti-globalization demonstrations, in April 2000. Protesters and bystanders, nurses on their way to a convention, lawyers on their way to work, a woman training for a bike race—all rounded up, seized without warning, without orders given, and arrested en masse. They were then tied up like farm animals for hours.
The next day, in the Washington Post, Ramsey described the scene at Pershing Park this way: “Ain’t it a thing of beauty. To see our folks up there ready to go.”
No one is calling that day a thing of beauty anymore. No one is even calling the arrests worth pursuing. The D.C. Office of the Corporation Counsel, the city agency charged with pursuing the Pershing Park cases, declined to prosecute a single demonstrator caught up in the police’s dragnet. “We no-papered everything in Pershing Park,” explains Peter Lavallee, the Corporation Counsel’s communications director. “We did not feel in the cases that came from Pershing Park—that the witness statements and the evidence that we had [presented] probable cause that a crime was committed and/or that a specific individual committed a crime.”
Protesters at the park were charged with failure to obey a lawful police order. The problem, as one city official familiar with the cases notes, was with the order. “It’s not clear whether orders were given at Pershing Park,” the official explains.
The media-savvy Ramsey, the one cop who could explain the Pershing Park arrests, isn’t fielding questions on the specific events that took place. And with good reason:
* So far, two lawsuits have been filed on behalf of arrestees. One of the lawsuits filed counts 22 plaintiffs.
* The D.C. Council’s Committee on the Judiciary has held a hearing to air the perspectives of the arrestees, including Abbate. Councilmember Kathy Patterson has strong-armed the mayor and the police into conducting an internal investigation. That report is still pending.
* The independent Office of Citizen Complaint Review has received four civilian complaints, each of which is currently being investigated.
Mass protests, of course, are routine in Washington; large anti-war demonstrations are planned for this weekend. Asked if he would do another Pershing Park, Ramsey doesn’t hesitate in responding, “We probably will,” he says, smiling. “We probably will.”
Jeri Wohlberg didn’t belong in Pershing Park. A registered nurse from Burlington, Vt., she had come to the District for a nursing conference—the State of the Science Congress at the J.W. Marriott, located across Pennsylvania Avenue from the park.
As she was waiting to learn about hospice care that morning, Wohlberg saw all these young faces milled about, clustering together like popular kids at high-school lunch. Sitting on benches, under trees, strewn among the greenery, they all seemed to contain a certain energy, a secret knowledge she didn’t have.
After about 20 minutes in the park, Wohlberg, 28, bumped into two of her nursing colleagues. They had seen the protests on television in their Marriott hotel rooms and in the Marriott gym. They’d looked out the window and seen the activists. The activists didn’t look dangerous.
Kind of weird that they all were there. All had ended up in the park after workouts, bagels, and coffee. It was about 8:45 a.m. All three wanted to see some authentic radicals give speeches, holler chants, and do all the things that anti-globalist radicals are supposed to do.
Instead, they got to watch semi-bored kids gathered here and there, drumming, dancing, gabbing, passing out fliers and pamphlets. Tons of press had glommed onto anyone holding a banner. And the kids used up a lot of the media attention taking pictures of themselves. The nurses found it hard not to be a little bored, too.
“I expected people to be a little more organized,” Wohlberg says. “I just kinda hung out and watched what was going on.”
Wohlberg’s friend Sally Norton, a registered nurse and assistant professor at the University of Rochester, felt the same. “We had hoped there was a speaker,” she says. “It looked just like a peaceful demonstration in a park.”
Pretty soon, all three nurses decided to leave. Norton, 41, wanted to attend that conference session on hospice care.
The nurses walked to the edge of the park, only to come up against a wall of riot-geared police. Wohlberg says they watched a young woman pleading with police to let her leave. The woman turned to the three nurses and announced, “They won’t let us leave,” Wohlberg remembers.
“What do you mean they won’t let us leave?” Wohlberg asked.
“Maybe you can try, because you don’t look like us,” the woman replied. Wohlberg was wearing black dress slacks, a light blue silk sweater, and black dress shoes. She carried her conference tote bag and conference badge.
Wohlberg took the woman’s advice and explained to the officer her situation—that they had to go to a nursing conference, that they’d like to leave.
“‘I’m sorry, but no one’s permitted to leave,’” Wohlberg remembers the cop saying.
“We’re not part of this protest,” Wohlberg pleaded. It was no use.
Still, the three nurses decided to try another flank of cops. They sought out officers who looked sympathetic, open to the idea of waving them through. One cop was polite. One cop said nothing, a stone. One cop said no one could leave. One cop said they would be given the opportunity to disperse—be patient, he said, and wait for the order. “We kept asking,” Norton remembers. “But we kept getting either we couldn’t leave or we had to wait.”
They showed the officers their conference tote bags. They pointed to the Marriott.
They met up with another bystander who wanted to leave. All four then met up with a supervisor. The police official told them that they would get a chance to leave soon.
“‘I can’t tell you when that time is going to be,’” Wohlberg remembers the supervisor saying. “‘But at some point you’ll be allowed to leave if you want to.’”
It was just past 9 a.m.
Laury Saligman, 34, was among the first people arrested. She had spent the morning with her boyfriend, training for a bike race the next day, the Tour of Prince George’s County, an elite women’s road race sponsored by the county’s police department. It was the last race of the season.
Saligman and her boyfriend had cycled some 20 miles through the city and had ended up behind the Marriott. It was 8:15 a.m. They stopped and watched as the activists gathered on the block, along with the police with full riot gear, masks, and night sticks.
“What if they have pepper spray?” Saligman asked her boyfriend. They decided to leave.
“We got on our bikes,” Saligman says. “We started to leave the area. [The police] were starting to form a line at that point. And one of the cops stuck his arm out and pushed me down.”
Saligman’s bike tumbled down, and because her shoes were clipped into the pedals, she went down, too. “I hit the ground pretty hard,” she says. “The officer grabbed me by the collar and lifted me up and dragged me. He threw my bike in the road.”
The officer placed Saligman in metal handcuffs and then put her in a squad car. She pleaded with him to let her go, telling him that she was just on her way home, that she had to go to work, that she lives here. Her boyfriend made the same plea and escaped arrest. But it didn’t work for Saligman. In the squad car, “I felt like I had run out of air,” she says.
A half-block up, demonstrators were oblivious to the police. They chanted as drummers pounded on everything from cafeteria trays to bike baskets. They shook tambourines and baby rattles. There were maybe 30 activists doing their best Fela Kuti impressions. When the drumming stopped, one activist hushed everyone and told them all to look around.
Unless they wanted mass arrests, they should start leaving, the activist advised. Everyone drifted away. “Go forward!” one activist shouted.
An activist on the outer edge of the park was telling stories about what he had witnessed up at Vermont and K, where a Citibank window had been smashed. Legal observers were arrested. Media reps—including a photographer from U.S. News & World Report—had been arrested, too.
Another activist heard the officers bark down their line: “Secure the perimeter!”
One man met up with a wall of cops and asked how people could get out.
“Don’t care!” the cop shouted. The man asked again. “Don’t care!” the cop shouted again. “Don’t care, sir!”
Two other activists were told by an officer, according to one complaint filed in federal court, that they “were not allowed to leave because their bikes were displaying ‘propaganda.’ The officer told them that they could leave if they removed the propaganda, which consisted in part of a sign displaying a women’s symbol.” They complied, the complaint states, and the officer then ripped up the materials and told them they still couldn’t leave.
The activists, Casey Legler and Samantha Young, then approached a lieutenant and asked to leave again. He refused, saying, “At this point in time, ma’am, we are just following orders.”
The three nurses, who had resigned themselves to waiting for officers to tell them when they could leave, ended up toward the front of the growing crowd. There, they ran into John Passacantando, the executive director of Greenpeace in the United States.
Passacantando, riding his bike to work, had stopped to check out the demonstrations in the park and gotten caught up, too. He had called his assistant to tell her he would be “15 or 20 minutes late.” He saw the lines of cops start to push their way through the park, ordering the crowd to move in tighter and tighter.
“You would see people falling over backwards to try and stay out of their way,” Passacantando says. “People with bicycles stumbling. There was that much space to go to. This wound the tension way up. You could feel the tension in the crowd.”
Alexis Baden-Mayer, 28, stood on the edge of the sidewalk surrounding the park, holding a banner. She was with her dad, Joe Mayer, as the police started closing in. Baden-Mayer was worried that her 69-year-old father, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, would get hit with a baton. She pleaded with the cops, in tears, to stop pushing.
They stood maybe five minutes, they say, before the cops marched up to them and told them to get in the park. Then they decided to leave. Mayer, a lawyer, had a meeting to go to anyway, and his daughter had to teach three ballet classes that afternoon. Both didn’t want to get arrested.
“Get back in the park,” the officer told them. Mayer thought, These guys are misinterpreting their instructions.
The nurses sensed a spike in the tension. They asked Passacantando: “What’s going on?”
“I have no idea, but they won’t let us move,” Passacantando told them. “Stay here with me.” It was about 10 a.m. Wohlberg could see the Metrobuses pulling up along Pennsylvania Avenue. She knew from watching on the gym’s television earlier that this meant people would soon be arrested and be placed on those buses.
The cops started to push on all sides of the crowd.
“The police were swinging, and they had panicked,” Passacantando remembers. “They were hitting people standing there. I saw them hit several people. One officer came up to me with a baton raised. I had my hands down. I said, ‘Hey! Hey! What are you doing?’ The officer said, ‘You don’t want to fight?’ I said, ‘God no. None of us do.’” The officer relaxed.
Passacantando told the nurses to just do what the officers said. Mostly that meant waiting, bunched in good and tight. From inside the crowd, you could hear the rev of portable generators and the snap of bolt cutters. The police were freeing bikes from their locks throughout the park. This was a bad sign.
Cell phones were passed around. People called 911, as if that would help matters. Passacantando called the Greenpeace lawyer. Baden-Mayer called the director of her ballet school, embarrassed, to say she won’t be teaching the 3- to 7-year-olds that afternoon.
There were chants: “I have the right to leave this park peacefully!” and “I am a peaceful protester.” And then there was nothing but quiet.
The Pershing Park crowd huddled against each other, shoulder to shoulder. They were surrounded by two rows of riot-geared cops standing stock-straight and clutching batons. Beyond these cops bunched bike cops, and beyond the bike cops were cops swaying on horseback.
The cops closed in tight. At this point, at about 10:30, there was no uncertainty: They would all be arrested shortly. One protester threw up a peace symbol. Another held up a makeshift sign that read, “Help!” And that was it. Everything conspired to keep them silent.
The nurses still waited. “The order never came,” Norton remembers. “I heard no orders to disperse. I heard no orders to leave. That was what we were trying to do. The only orders I heard was when the perimeter was tightening, they were yelling, ‘Move in, move in.’ And I did that.”
When Wohlberg was cuffed, she told the officer: “I don’t want to get hurt.” The kid next to her had just been smacked on the shoulder and side with a baton. Along the way to the Metrobus, she told officers her story for the umpteenth time—she was a nurse, a bystander, innocent. She got on the bus.
“I was pissed. I was really upset. I was really mad,” Wohlberg says. Crazy thoughts ran through her mind: I will not be allowed to practice nursing ever again.
The Mayers were some of the last to be cuffed and bused. Baden-Mayer had tucked her purse under her coat. The officers herding people onto the buses thought this was hilarious.
“It looks like she’s got a third boob!” Baden-Mayer remembers them shouting. When she boarded the bus, she found that her dad had saved her a seat.
First the officers told the Mayers it would cost them $100 to be released. They were held on those buses long into the afternoon, waiting in the police-academy parking lot in Blue Plains. They were at the mercy of whatever the cops said. If your cuffs were too tight, if you had to pee, it was up to the officers to do something. If you didn’t pay the fine, you wouldn’t be released until Monday, the officers said.
Baden-Mayer knew this was all bullshit. Sitting on that bus, she started telling people that they didn’t have to pay the fine. They could ask for a citation and then be released. The citation would grant them their day in court. They could fight these arrests.
An officer brought a fellow cop with a new story back to the bus. “‘The computers are down,’” Baden-Mayer remembers the officer telling them. “‘And we’re not going to be able to issue any citations. We need the computers for that.’”
If they wanted to post and forfeit, the officer said he could do that. “‘We can do that paperwork by hand,’” he said. The fine, the officers said, had been reduced to $50.
A lot of people on the bus believed the officers. Still, they would have to remain in the vehicle for hours until they could do anything about their situation.
Wohlberg and the other nurses, sitting on another bus, were also told that the computers were down. And later, the officers announced that they had run out of film for lineup shots. They had to get more Polaroid cameras, they said, according to Wohlberg. It took the officers hours to return with cameras.
The officers then told Wohlberg she had to post and forfeit, that she couldn’t get a trial date because she was from out of state. “We were not allowed a trial date,” she says.
The nurses were joined by Abbate, who was thinking about the plane she had to catch to Michigan for her brother’s 16th birthday that night. Abbate had tried to leave the park several times and been rebuffed. Now she had to listen to the officers’ lame excuses about why the process was taking so long, why she couldn’t get a citation. As an attorney for Neighborhood Legal Services’ Northeast office, and someone with a healthy respect for officers, she thought the whole situation was a series of humiliations.
Abbate had $46. She borrowed another four from one of the nurses, who had all decided to pay the fine.
She says she was told that she had to come up with the cash, even if she wanted a citation. Once inside, Abbate argued the point with two officers behind a computer that she wanted that citation. But, she says, they insisted that she had to pay. Finally, another officer approached and agreed with the lawyer.
By 4 p.m., they had all been transferred to the academy’s gym. Abbate was put in the citation line, placed on a mat and cuffed wrist to ankle—hogtied. One plastic cuff for your wrist. One plastic cuff for your ankle. And one cuff in between. Three loops, with roughly 8 inches between your ankle and wrist.
“There was no way you could flatten your leg out or stand up,” Abbate recalls. “You could lay on your side in the fetal position, but then you couldn’t feel anything….The only comfortable position was the fetal position on your side or sitting up with your legs bent and back leaning forward and your hand between your legs. It wasn’t the cuffs that hurt—it was the position. It was just really, really uncomfortable. Try sitting cross-legged for 12 hours at a time. It didn’t seem like anybody was comfortable doing it.”
All of the arrestees were tied and left on mats. Jeff Barham, 29, a legal observer arrested at Vermont and K, remembers three police officials posing in front of the hogtied crowd for pictures. They acted, Barham says, “like they were at the zoo.”
Most of the arrestees sat hunched over well into the morning hours. Mayer remembers one arthritic knee tightening. “If I can’t move to get the blood going in one knee, I can barely walk,” he says. “Almost every time I asked to go to the toilet, the first few steps, I could barely make it….It just stiffened me up.”
The nurses, Saligman, and Passacantando all were placed together. Wohlberg says that through the night her back, neck, arms, and legs all hurt. She felt nauseated and had a throbbing headache. They counted the minutes and waited for their release, not sure when it would come. No officers were giving out any information.
Saligman was released just after 6:30 p.m. By 2:15 a.m., the nurses and Passacantando were finally released.
After getting out, Norton was greeted by activists from Food Not Bombs, who were passing out peanut-butter-and-apple sandwiches. With a lift from Passacantando, the nurses made it back to their hotel sometime after 3 a.m.
The Mayers were released with citations Saturday afternoon. In mid-October, they appeared in Superior Court and were told their cases had been no-papered.
Abbate had to go through a few more ordeals to gain release. She waited in the holding cell until 9 p.m. She got word that the city’s attorneys had declined to prosecute her. She left Superior Court with her girlfriend and two lawyer buddies.
“It was surreal to walk out of this courthouse,” Abbate says. “I practice law in that courthouse. I felt kind of ashamed as a lawyer to come in that way and to leave out of arraignment court. It was disorienting to see regular people again. It was a weird feeling, walking out and seeing this vigil across the street.”
The curtain of police officers, the mass arrests, the hogtying, and the no-papering—it’s become a paradigm for Ramsey and his department. Ever since the anti-globalist movement came here in April 2000, Ramsey’s treatment of protesters has padded his image as a law-and-order cop, even as his detectives have continued to botch investigations of real crimes citywide.
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, an attorney and co-founder of the D.C.-based Partnership for Civil Justice, says, “Under Chief Ramsey, we have seen the police repeatedly deploy pop-up police lines, police lines with full riot gear surrounding peaceful demonstrators. They detain them…and they deprive them of their ability to engage in their First Amendment speech.”
Mark Goldstone, the chair of the Demonstration Support Committee of the D.C. chapter of the National Lawyer’s Guild, calls this the “Ramsey Plan.”
The plan starts with the police hyping up the potential for violence. In this case, Ramsey stated repeatedly in the press that the protests were a good cover for terrorists, that commuters should stay away from downtown. Production notes for a police-department training video titled “Police Tactics and Issues” identified priorities for handling demonstrators. One of the bullet points hints at the strategy for Pershing Park: “locking up troublemakers on the first night.” Others include “sleep deprivation tactics,” the chief doing public relations, and “re-building the lines, how a crowd gets mad.” Nothing in the notes, however, suggests a reason for arresting hundreds of people who are guilty of nothing more than being in a park.
Ramsey & Co. justify their preventive policing strategies by pointing to violence at previous anti-globalization demonstrations in Seattle and Prague. And this year, officials even added Sept. 11 to the scare rhetoric, arguing that the terrorists could come disguised as protesters. “Lots of things happen a country away that do come to the United States,” says Margret Nedelkoff Kellems, the city’s deputy mayor for public safety. “We have to be prepared in this day and age for anything.”
But as Sept. 27 dawned, few people would have mistaken the protesters for al Qaeda. They didn’t have the numbers, they weren’t shutting down intersections, and they weren’t even making much noise. McDonald’s and the rest of American capitalism would survive.
The most ominous development was a plume of bikers parading around the city to promote eco-friendly travel. Capital Police Chief Terrance Gainer, in an interview with local filmmaker Barry R. Student early that morning in front of Union Station, said that there had been some fear early on that the protests would turn violent. “It doesn’t look like it,” he declared on film.
Gainer, now, recalls the scene as peaceful. “There were protesters in [Pershing Park]—that was relatively calm, kids taking pictures,” he says. “I don’t recall any rocks or bottles being thrown around. They were behaving themselves.”
“I can’t say I heard an order,” says Peter G. LaPorte, the director of D.C.’s Emergency Management Agency, who was also at Pershing Park, walking along the police lines.
LaPorte describes the scene as something less than criminal. “Stalemate. Nothing was going on” until the protesters were arrested, he says. He’s not sure why the cops did what they did: “I could not make that leap. I’m not a cop.”
One Park Police official, who refused to be identified for this story, says he didn’t hear any order. “I was with our chief. Just because I didn’t hear an order doesn’t mean they didn’t give it 10 times,” he explains. “I was an official on the scene. They could have given a warning 10 times.”
When describing the scene at Pershing Park, a high-ranking city official, who wishes to remain anonymous citing the pending litigation, terms it a “huge money loss for the city.”
Gainer concedes that it is possible Pershing Park could have gone down better. “If there were innocent people, I hope they were ultimately freed….I think there’s lessons to be learned. No. 1, if you are going to have large protests, you are going to need to act within the permit. If the police are giving orders, you have to follow the orders. If you are the police, you have to accommodate. And make sure you communicate what you expect of the protesters.”
Still, Mayor Williams won’t concede as much. “I think it’s clear we had a safe city and an open city,” Williams says. When asked how he feels about nurses saying they were on their way to a conference when they were arrested, the mayor says he’s not sure he believes their allegations. “Any allegations always trouble you,” he says. “I happen to believe there isn’t a basis. Everybody comes into a situation with their own views and beliefs. That’s my view. I’ll let you know if there’s a change.”
Williams is still awaiting the results of the police department’s internal investigation on the matter. According to Councilmember Patterson, the mayor promised her in writing that the report would be on her desk on Nov. 12. She’s still waiting.
“It seems the mayor doesn’t speak for his own administration,” Patterson says. “If the mayor makes a commitment to another elected official and [his] people don’t abide by him, it undercuts the mayor’s commitments. It should be a priority for the mayor. He made a commitment to me in writing. That should be a concern for the mayor.”
Patterson’s main concern is the hogtying of arrestees at the academy. The department’s general orders declare that “Members shall not attach handcuffs to leg restraints in such a fashion that forces the legs and hands to be close to one another (i.e. hog-tying), or place a person in a prone position, lying face down.”
However, police officials—as well as Williams staffers—have argued that the arrestees were shackled in a less cumbersome way, which does not qualify as hogtying. Inspector Stanly Wigenton, the current head of the Internal Affairs Division, has already made up his mind on that point. “What we found so far—that’s not considered hogtying,” he says. “I can say that no one was hogtied.”
Wigenton bases his judgment on the configuration of the wrist-to-ankle restraints. The apparatus used by police that day included an extra cuff between the wrist and ankle cuffs. “There was a lot of room in between,” he says. “The one in the middle was extremely loose. There’s a lot of flex room there.”
Patterson says that if the department insists on splitting hairs over the issue, she will draft legislation to ban all forms of wrist-to-ankle restraints. “I do not understand how this can ever be a defensible option given the explicit language in the Metropolitan Police Department orders,” wrote Patterson in a Dec. 5 letter to Ramsey.
Kellems says that there might be extenuating circumstances for the unusual shackling technique. The general orders do not list such circumstances.
Abbate doesn’t remember the flex room cited by the police department. But she does remember Internal Affairs investigators trying to convince her that the cuffs were loose enough that she could have stood up. “There was absolutely no way that you could,” she says.
According to Passacantando, a handful of arrestees who tried to walk with the restraints on subsequently had both wrists cuffed to their ankles. Mayer notes that he saw people who tried to move get dragged back to their original places. And Wohlberg says that some people had their restraints tightened so much that their wrists and ankles touched.
Whatever the outcome of the police’s investigation, Ramsey continues supporting his troops. “I think our officers handled these situations well,” he says.
As for the report, Ramsey says not to look for it anytime soon—if ever. The report will not be made public, says the chief. “Not as long as there’s litigation pending,” he explains.
Art accompanying story in the printed newspaper is not available in this archive: Video Stills by Barry R. Student.