BAIL URGENTLY NEEDED FOR L/G/B/T ACTIVIST ARRESTED, BEATEN AT DEMONSTRATION



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Three members of Philadelphia Anti-Racist Action were arrested today at a peaceful demonstration in
support of Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender rights and reproductive freedom in Phoenixville, PA. One of the arrested was badly beaten by police and had to be hospitalized. All information as to his health, whereabouts, charges, and bail is being withheld by police. The remaining two arrestees were charged with violating a provision of the USA PATRIOT Act pertaining to supplying identification to law enforcement personnel and later released.

The demonstration took place outside the home of two organizers with the notorious queer-bashing and anti-reproductive freedom organization, Repent America, whose members regularly harrass and intimidate members of the L/G/B/T community and disrupt events such as AIDS fundraisers and pride festivals. The legality of such demonstrations has been clearly established through various precedents, but police forcibly ended the gathering, arresting the three individuals, severely injuring one of them. A similar demonstration took place earlier in the day in a neighboring town, and although police were present, it proceeded without any incident whatsoever.

Despite the fact that the individuals were peacefully attempting to call attention to the Repent America organizers' attempts to incite violence against queer and transgendered individuals and terrorize their communities, they have been charged with violating a provision of the USA PATRIOT Act, ostensibly a set anti-terrorist laws, which have instead been used to target nonviolent political activists. By using the USA PATRIOT Act against such activists, law enforcement personnel are attempting to equate peaceful protest, and even dissent itself, with terrorism. This has a chilling effect on individuals' willingness to publicly disagree with government policy, or even with organizations such as Repent America, which regularly attempt to incite violence against women and queers.

The misuse of the USA PATRIOT Act is only one tactic used by law enforcement agencies in the war against dissent. The injured protester had been violently thrown to the ground and then slammed into the side of a police car before being taken away. He is believed to still be in custody, but police are refusing to divulge any information about his charges or medical condition. It is further unknown if and when he will be permitted to post bail.

Members of Philadelphia Anti-Racist Action are calling on individuals to contribute to a fund being readied in the event the activist is permitted to post bail. It is imperative that his release be secured as soon as possible in order to ensure that he receives appropriate medical care. Anyone able to contribute is urged to contact Tom Keenan at 609-468-9562, or email him at  tompkeenan@gmail.com.

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