Pubdate: Tue, 09 May 2000
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2000 The New York Times Company
Contact:  229 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036
Fax: (212) 556-3622
Author: David Rohde


Outraged parents from New Jersey and Long Island called it a travesty
and declared Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani a tyrant.

One Long Island 18-year-old, in tears, called his mother and
complained that court holding cells were hot and overcrowded and that
he could not eat the jail food that guards offered him. And a
19-year-old vegetarian from Teaneck, N.J., said guards refused to
provide her with a meatless sandwich, despite a sign saying they were

The mayor's zero tolerance approach to petty crime collided with a new
opponent over the weekend -- marijuana-smoking suburbanites. Police
arrested 312 protesters, many of them young people from outside the
city, at a marijuana legalization rally in Lower Manhattan on Saturday.

The result was shock and indignation from protest organizers and
dozens of suburban parents, who abruptly learned what some city
dwellers, particularly minorities, have complained about for the last
several years.

Under the Giuliani administration's continuing crackdown intended to
improve quality of life, minor offenses ranging from smoking marijuana
in public to jumping a turnstile typically result in a night in a
sweltering, overcrowded and urine-soaked holding cell.

"We don't even live in New York, but the way Giuliani's treating the
homeless -- treating a kid as an adult -- I don't know," fumed Bill
Walters, an equipment technician from the Jersey Shore who waited from
9 a.m. Sunday until 1:45 a.m. yesterday for his 17-year-old son to be
released. "Let's put his kid in jail and see how he feels. If I lived
in New York, I'd vote against him."

After the Millennium Marijuana March New York concluded in Battery
Park on Saturday afternoon, some of the participants began smoking
marijuana, and the police, who arrested 102 people in a similar event
last year, rounded up almost a third of the 1,000 people they
estimated participated in the march. The vast majority were charged
with smoking marijuana in public, a misdemeanor.

The number of the arrests surprised march organizers, participants and
dozens of parents who crowded the Manhattan Criminal Courts Building
on Sunday, waiting for their children, some of whom were jailed for 36
hours, to be released.

Many parents were stunned to learn that New York police generally no
longer issue court appearance tickets for minor crimes and that, as a
result, they could not see their children for 24 hours.

The parents were horrified by the conditions in the building and the
sluggish pace of the process. Those arrested complained of abusive
treatment by officers who they said seemed to arrest people whether or
not they were smoking, roughed-up some protesters and left others
locked in sweltering vans for hours.

One woman, who would not give her name, said of the police: "They
treated us like mass murderers. They were rude." Two arrested
protesters complained of being given tea without sugar.

In most cases, those arrested on Saturday for smoking marijuana had no
criminal record and so were not required to post bail and were told
that the charges would be dropped if they are not arrested for a year.

Detective Madelyne Dalindo, a police department spokeswoman, defended
the arrests yesterday and said there was a reason why each person was
held overnight.

One might have lacked valid identification, for example, and another
might have had an outstanding warrant, she said.

Kate Morgan, one of the march organizers, said leaders of her group,
Cures Not wars, told the participants not to smoke marijuana. She said
the protesters planned to file a lawsuit against the city.

Tom Antenen, a spokesman for the City Department of Corrections, said
that water, food and telephones were available to prisoners once they
were put in holding cells.

David Bookstaver, a spokesman for the court system, said that court
workers and judges made a "Herculean effort" to process a huge number
of arrests.

Judges Eileen Koretz and James Sullivan arraigned 400 defendants on
Sunday evening, a record for two judges, he said, and court personnel
worked until 3 a.m. to process the backlog.

David Kapner, the arraignment supervisor for the Legal Aid Society who
worked on the arrest cases Sunday night, said the complaints of petty
arrests and mistreatment were nothing new. Mr. Kapner said the city's
poor have long borne the brunt of the quality-of-life crackdown, and
when more affluent people experience it they are usually stunned by
the treatment and conditions.
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