Activists dispute March arrests

Protesters were mistreated while in custody, they say

November 29, 2003|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

A small group of peace activists carrying anti-war posters demonstrated yesterday outside the Towson Precinct, where they say they were held for 14 hours this year without food, water or access to a telephone.

"The police never acknowledged that we had been mistreated. They never apologized," said Maria Allwine, one of the eight members of the Baltimore chapter of Iraq Pledge of Resistance who were arrested at Towson Town Center on March 1 after refusing to leave the mall.

Max Obuszewski, a vocal peace activist who is frequently arrested during demonstrations, said their requests to meet with police Chief Terrence B. Sheridan or other officials about the department's detention policy were denied.

Department officials would not meet with the group because of the possibility of litigation, police spokesman Shawn Vinson said.

Protesters have said that as they waited to be taken to a District Court commissioner the night of March 1, a police officer in the Towson Precinct yelled "USA! USA!" on the intercom and then imitated the sounds of bombs exploding.

Disciplinary action was taken against one officer, Vinson said. But he said details about the discipline and the findings of an internal affairs investigation into the complaints were confidential.

Six officers waited outside the police station yesterday for the eight protesters, including three who were arrested in March. Officers in patrol cars followed the group as they marched up York Road to the mall.

"For a democracy to function effectively, citizens must be able to speak out without fear. Should these citizens be arrested, they must be treated with respect, not mistreated or ridiculed," said protester Levanah Ruthschild, reading a written statement from the group in front of the police station.

According to county police regulations on detention, "Prisoners are to be made as comfortable as practical, and given the opportunity and access to a telephone for the purpose of notifying relatives or friends, or engaging counsel or bondsmen."

After their arrest in March, the protesters said they were put in leg shackles, and several were handcuffed to a metal bench.

It was about 6 a.m. the next day before they were taken to the District Court commissioner, the protesters said. They were released on their own recognizance and are scheduled to appear in court in February.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.