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News :: Human Rights : Labor : Organizing
Vicious Police Attack on IWW Solidarity March in Providence
13 Aug 2007
Modified: 14 Aug 2007
On Saturday, August 11, 2007, Alexandra Svoboda, a member of the labor union Industrial Workers of the World, was brutally assaulted by North Providence Police officers as she was peacefully demonstrating with a group of fellow union members and supporters in support of workers at HWH/Dragonland in New York City. She was attacked while she was complying with orders given by the NPPD to move towards the sidewalk. Alexandra was then tackled and brutalized by the officers, suffering a grotesquely broken and dislocated knee and a ruptured vascular artery. She is currently recovering from her first operation at the Rhode Island Hospital and is awaiting a second surgery scheduled for Wednesday.
Cops break bones at Providence IWW solidarity march
The severity of her medical condition is yet to be determined. Following the attack, the police put three felony charges including assaulting an officer, resisting arrest, and obstruction of justice. Jason Friedmutter, another member of the IWW, was arrested and charged with obstruction of justice. The North Providence officers indiscriminately maced demonstrators, including one female supporter from Boston who is suffering chemical burns.
The peaceful demonstration was organized in order to highlight that the chain restaurant, Jacky's Galaxie, is supplied by HWH/Dragonland Trading Company, a food distribution company, out of New York City, guilty of a wide variety of unfair labor practices. HWH/Dragonland has a long history of paying its employees subminimum wages, denying overtime pay, forcing over one hundred hour work weeks, firing known union members, and engaging in industry-wide blacklisting of such workers. The Providence General Membership Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World informed the owner of Jacky's Galaxie restaurants, Jacky Ko, of these allegations and the ongoing investigations of HWH/Dragonland by the District Attorney of New York. The action on Saturday, August 11, 2007, was strictly an informational picket.
Roughly 30-40 wobblies and supporters (including Providence and Boston SDSers) were marching towards Jackie's Galaxy in North Providence when the police began following them en mass. They told the marches to move to the sidewalk, while this was initially ignored, the marchers listened to the police and began slowly moving to the sidewalk.
The police then surrounded the marchers in their squad cars and began getting out. With the police in full force, they began attacking the marchers, one fellow worker, Alex Svoboda, was pinned down by the police during her arrest and suffered a broken and dislocated leg and ruptured blood vessel in the knee. These injuries will require at least two surgeries and extensive rehab and even then may not completely repair the damage. Jason, another wob, was arrested in during the police' attack. Ashley, a supporter from Boston, was also severely maced during the attack, suffered chemical burns and required medical treatment.
Despite this, the marchers continued on to Jackie's Galaxy and eventually spoke with the owner who at first promised he had switched suppliers and now denies doing business with HWH although he has no documentation to prove either claim. Business at Jackie's Galaxy ceased completely during the duration of the action and most bystanders were outraged that Jackie's would support the crimes of HWH/Dragonland.
The Providence wobblies and other supporters of workers' rights will continue their pressure on Jackies Galaxy until they stop doing business with the slave labor shop HWH/Dragonland or until basic rights, including the right to organize, are instated at HWH/Dragonland.
Alex Svoboda was charged with 3 felony counts of assaulting and office as well as two misdemeanors and will be unable to work for a significant period time as a result of her injuries.
The IWW will be organizing a vigil outside of the main entrance of the Rhode Island Hospital, located at 593 Eddy Street in Providence, tomorrow, Tuesday, August 14 at 4:00 p.m. Faith leaders, community activists, and concerned citizens will be among the participants of this vigil.
Money will be needed to provide Alex and Jason with legal support and also to help with the medical bills and lose of income Alex will suffer as a result of the brutality of the North Providence Police. Please send in any donation that you, or your organization can afford to the Providence General Membership Branch (address below) or contact Mark Bray at 201-669-0714 or Billy Randel at 646-645-6284.
You can also do your part at pressuring the Mayor and Police Chief of North Providence (contact info below) to at the very least, formally apologizing to the marchers, dropping all baseless charges and paying for the injuries and lose of income that were unjustly caused.
Photos of the action and the brutal assault can be found here:
PO box 5795
Email-ProvidenceIWW (at) riseup.net
North Providence Mayor:
Charles A. Lombardi
North Providence Town Hall
2000 Smith Street
North Providence, RI 02911
Telephone: (401) 232-0900, ext. 226
Fax: (401) 232-3434
Ernest C. Spaziano
North Providence Police Department
1967 Mineral Spring Ave.
North Providence, R.I. 02904
Business line: 401-233-1433
Fax number: 401-233-1438
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This work is in the public domain.