Washington Peace Center
2111 Florida Avenue. Washington. D.C. 20008
Entrance on Decatur Place) Phone: 234-2000
February 27, 1991

To whom it may concern,

I have been a fulI-time activist for many years and have worked in Washington D.C. since 1986. I have also been a coordinator of the Washington Peace Center since 1987, and as such, have had a great deal of interaction with the various police forces in the District both on the streets and in meetings regarding permits.

Throughout my years of political organizing, I have often witnessed excessive police harassment of government critics. I have also witnessed excessive use of force by the police against protesters. But never in my life have I personally witnessed such police violence as I saw in Lafayette Park on the night of Sunday, February 24th.

On Sunday, February 24, I was involved in organizing a rally and candlelight vigil in Lafayette Park in response this the outbreak of the ground war. This vigil was sponsored by the Washington Area Coalition to Stop U.S. Intervention in the Middle East. We called and notified the police about our activities and received verbal permission for the demonstration. We also checked in with them on site and made clear that we had no intention of carrying out a civil disobedience action that night. It was to be a peaceful, nonviolent demonstration.

In addition to our vigil, there was also a drumming protest going on. This protest was started at the onset of the war and those involved have vowed to continue the drumming until the war ends. Many of the people involved are part of a community of people that have held an ongoing vigil since 1980.

That evening following our action, people were encouraged to join the drum protest. When I went over to the drum protest I saw that a group of people had formed a circle around the drummers. I also observed that a ring of police on horses had begun to encircle the crowd. Next a group of riot police in helmuts and visors also began to encircle the group. I heard an announcement and looked around to see that it was coming from a police van. I couldn't quite make out all they were saying but it was about noise and people being subject to arrest. I turned back to the crowd just in time to see that the police had formed into a line and with arms held up as if linked, charged and flung themselves full force into the crowd.

What followed was an unbelievable scene. Some of us reflected afterwards: "Where are we--South Africa?" People were knocked down, thrown, punched, kicked, stepped on, trampled by horses, and clubbed. People were running, screaming, and crying. I personally witnessed a man pinned on his stomach on the ground between a paddy wagon and the fence who was kneed and beaten by three officers. They stood there whacking him on the back again and again with sticks. I stood in shock at the scene around me helpless against the brutal assault by the Park Police.

In the end there were about 11 arrests and many scared and bruised people. It seems to me that the police are trying to provoke a violent response on our part as we11 as intimidate people so they don't come back.

This blatant harassment did not end here however. A friend, whose wife was arrested (she had not been in the circle or drumming), and I went down to the Anacostia Processing Center to pick her and others up after they had been processed. This was our first trip to the Processing Center. We arrived and went to drive into the parking lot when a van pulled in front of us and told us we could not park inside and we had to park in a pulloff on the road. Jeff and I then proceeded to walk in, to 1) use the phone, 2) use the bathroom, and 3) check on the people arrested. There was a walkway in, and no signs saying Do Not Enter, No Trespass, etc. The guy jumped out of the van and asked us what we were doing, and me stand our purpose as mentioned above. He said we weren't allowed to enter. We asked why, and he said, "Because I said so!" We asked who he was, and he said "None of your business." We asked for his name and badge number (he had on no hedge), and he said his name was Kirby and then went hack in the van and put on his jacket. I thought he was getting his badge. But he just got in and shut the door So we walked over to the door and asked for his badge number. At that point, he flung the door open, hitting Jeff quite hard in the chest, and jumped out and charged at us, in my direction, saying "I'm going to kick your ass if you don't get out of here."

Needless to say, we backed off. It was clear to us, based on events earlier in the evening, that our personal safety was and risk. We did, however, take the license plate number. It was an unmarked white Dodge van, with a DC plate number T-155109. This does not seem to me to he acceptable behavior on the part of the Park Police.

I am deeply concerned and quite troubled about the events I witnessed on the night of February 24th, and believe strongly that something must he done to make the police accountable for their actions before this repression advances this the next stage of rounding up and detaining critics of U.S. policy.


/s/Lisa Fithian

Lisa Fithian

Exhibit F