Flawed Arrests at the Convention

To the Editor:

Re "Videos Challenge Hundreds of Convention Arrests" (front page, April 12):

You report about shocking misconduct in connection with some of the 1,806 arrests made during the Republican National Convention last summer involving the alteration of police tapes.

Charges against hundreds of those arrested were dismissed when unaltered videotapes came to light, but the matter cannot be allowed to rest there.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg should appoint a task force to investigate the misconduct and to prepare a public report recommending reform of police procedures and calling those responsible for the abuses to account.

A police spokesman says officers should not be criticized if their recollection of events does not comport with a videotape.

If a person does not have an accurate recollection of events, he has no business testifying under oath in court in a criminal proceeding that may result in a citizen's loss of liberty.

Marilyn M. Jerry
Princeton, N.J., April 12, 2005

To the Editor:

What is truly disturbing about the prosecutions after last summer's Republican National Convention and the alteration of police tapes is that the matter is no longer about allegations of misconduct but about retribution against people who turned out to express opinions opposed to those of the Republicans.

This is the political nightmare we fear the most.

Joseph Keiffer
New York, April 12, 2005

To the Editor:

Police officers who offer false testimony about arrests, technicians who alter videos, and prosecutors who offer untrue evidence in court should be prosecuted.

But their misconduct pales in comparison with the systemic misconduct of the New York City government during the Republican convention last year.

The suppression of dissent has become commonplace, and it is an outrage. We need to ensure that freedom is more than a slogan.

Jacob Remes
Durham, N.C., April 12, 2005

To the Editor:

While we should be thankful that the technology exists for the common citizen now to more easily protect himself from the repressive tactics of the state (which we so readily allow to abrogate our rights under the guise of homeland security), what legal action can we expect Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to take against the police, who were so quick to deny the right of assembly?

Will we soon begin mass arrests of anyone with a video camera at any public gathering?

Or should we expect technology to allow the police to disable video cameras at their whim, again under the guise of homeland security?

Tony Alfrey
Woodside, Calif., April 12, 2005

To the Editor:

Dropping the charges against many of the protesters is but the first step in the more thorough moral reckoning that awaits us.

Your article underscores the yawning chasm between what we as a country are telling ourselves about our role as an ambassador of democracy and the chilling reality of America's role in the world: invading sovereign countries, deporting Muslims to be tortured abroad, and domestically, penning dissenting citizens.

(Rev.) Tom Martinez
Brooklyn, April 12, 2005

To the Editor:

For those of us who have for decades demonstrated peacefully in New York City for progressive causes, revelations of police hyperbole are nothing new.

For future demonstrations, I encourage The New York Times and other media to pick up a video camera and rely less on "he said, she said" reportage.

Daniel Katz
New York, April 12, 200

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