After his release from the police station and a walk back to Lafayette Park, Thomas learned the particulars of the security concerns which so disturbed Sgt. Turonis and Off. Bergo. Thomas was even more convinced that official "security concerns" had actually been "paranoid."
Earlier in the morning, before his arrest, Thomas saw some character -- who refused to give his name for fear of Albanian reprisals -- who was dressed in an Uncle Sam costume, accompanied by a woman dressed like the Statue of Liberty. Uncle Sam was manipulating Liberty with a giant marionette control as they passed through Lafayette Park on their way to another demonstration in opposition to NATO bombing, which was taking place four blocks away in Freedom Plaza. After the other demonstration ended Uncle Sam and Liberty were returning through Lafayette Park, where approximately 2,000 Albanians were chanting "Bomb, NATO, Bomb." According to Concepcion, as they were leaving the Park on the north side -- close to where Concepcion had been forced to move her signs, and far from the area which had been closed for "security" -- they were attacked by about a group of about 20 young Albanian males. Both Uncle Sam and Liberty were punched, knocked to the ground and had parts of their costumes torn off and their hats stolen. Park Police finally intervened and escorted the battered symbols of liberty out of harm's way.
The second and third security concerns also occurred on the north side of the Park. Similarly these incidents involved people who were passing through the Park on their way home after the other demonstration. These people were carrying the signs they had at the other demonstration.
Art Laffin was walking with a young woman named Julie. Both Julie and Art are members of a local Catholic Worker community, two extremely polite people, firmly committed to non-violence, who prefer feeding homeless people to antagonizing demonstrators. Like Uncle Sam and Liberty, Art and Julie were set upon by a score or so of antagonistic young Albanians. Park Police again intervened and escorted the two Catholic Workers until they got out of the Park.
The third incident involved a young woman named Nancy Hay. Nancy, who is under five feet tall, was also carrying a sign from the anti-bombing demonstration, and transiting Lafayette Park on her way home. Nancy was pushed and punched in the same vicinity as the other four victims, by a similar number of young men who then fled to a bus, parked on the north side of Lafayette Park, before any police involvement. As Nancy passed the bus, she shouted, "If you want to fight, go to Kosovo. I don't want my taxes used to fight your war." In response about ten young men piled off the bus, knocked Nancy to the ground and tore up her sign. When the police intervened, Nancy stated that she wanted to press charges against the men who assaulted her. "The police refused to press charges. They told me, 'They have a permit'."
As during their demonstration a week earlier, Concepcion, who
also is less than five feet tall, was also intimidated, spit on,
and had her literature snatched out of her hand and torn up by
Albanians who apparently didn't like her stand for peace. There
was no police involvement in Concepcion's case. And in no case
was there any connection between the park closure, and the "security
concerns" that occurred.