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News ::
R2K for Area Activist Continues
31 Jul 2002
Modified: 02 Oct 2002
The Struggle to Save Camilo Viveiros from the Philadelphia Judicial System approaches a Decisive Juncture this October 9th.
camilo.jpg
The Struggle to Save Camilo Viveiros from the Philadelphia Judicial System approaches a Decisive Juncture this October 9th.
R2K CONTINUES...

The Struggle to Save Camilo Viveiros from the Philadelphia Judicial System approaches a Decisive Juncture this October 9th.

Were you in Philadelphia two years ago for the protests of the Republican National Convention? The Boston R2K Task Force mobilized two buses and helped form several affinity groups for a week of activities around democracy and justice, while many local Boston activists journeyed to Philadelphia to protest corporate rule, the death penalty, and criminal justice system.

In what was to become known as an historic civil rights catastrophe, over 400 people were arrested during peaceful marches and civil disobedience, including many from Boston. Some held on bails of the unheard amounts of a million dollars, almost all were subsequently acquitted or had their charges thrown out.

As the cases evaporated in court, a series of investigative reports revealed how far police powers and the judiciary were abused to stifle democratic dissent. Police deployed such tactics as surveillance, infiltration of groups, and mass arrests. Key leaders were singled out and detained to keep them off the streets. Authorities in their vindictiveness, went so far as to confiscate and destroy hundreds of puppets to ensure that the Republican delegates went their way blissfully unaware of the dissent expressed outside the convention halls.

However, not all activists were cleared -- a few were caught in the very system they were protesting for its inhumanity and brutality.

One of those still facing severe charges that were not dropped is area activist Camilo Viveiros.

The most unlikely of people to be charged with felonies, Camilo at 29 has devoted his life to helping others, especially those in impoverished communities and the sick and elderly, from volunteer work in high school as a caregiver, to his most recent 5 years as a tenant organizer in Fall River, MA. Those who have met him can testify to his soft-spoken and gentle manner, and he is much respected, admired, and loved by his fellow organizers and the many lives he has touched.

Camilo had the misfortune on August 1st to be caught in the chaotic police actions during the protests. His is one of the last remaining cases still pending in the Philadelphia judicial system, being serious due to the involvement of the then police commissioner John Timoney.

Although many of the original trumped up charges were thrown out by the municipal court judge, the district attorney appealed this decision. She eventually got a first degree felony charge, which essentially carries the same weight as a homicide charge reinstated, this in addition to 4 misdemeanors and 2 felonies.

After protracted preliminary legal proceedings, Camilo's trial date has now been set for October 9.

With the city of Philadelphia under pressure to show that its heavy-handed tactics during the convention were justified, as well as a post-September 11 attitude toward dissent, there is a grave danger of Camilo being railroaded into a severe sentence. Camilo's prosecution, or persecution thus represents a dangerous precedent for the criminalization of protest and the growing suppression of civil liberties.

If you would like to help, supporters are helping Camilo with letters of support as well as financial contributions for legal fees. For more extensive background information and press, see http://www.friendsofcamilo.org or contact stayingstrong (at) hotmail.com.

Indeed, as activists in the struggle for a better world, we share in Camilo's fate. His freedom, our freedom, and his persecution are our very own. Let's stand by him as October 9th approaches.
See also:
http://friendsofcamilo.org
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Comments

Another Y2K Legal Refugee...
22 Aug 2002
Chris Kaihatsu spent nearly a week in the Madison pokey on extradition charges... for crimes he never committed at Y2K. Read about it here:

http://madison.indymedia.org/front.php3?article_id=6211&group=webcast
Some balance... (english)
22 Sep 2002
Modified: 26 Sep 2002

Um, this guy threw a bicycle at another human being and harmed him severely, and we are supposed to be sympathetic to him?!?!? What happened to peaceful protest? What good has his -- or all the other senseless violence perpetrated in our name -- done except give us a black eye and handed our enemies the ammunition to dismiss us further.
Of course (english)
30 Sep 2002
It only figures doesn't it? After capitalism (small c) comes fascism (small f). Were all missing the point aren't we? Take it from me- a veteran who gets very sleep at night because of Bush's cheerleading, coke sniffing, alcoholic past. Everyone deserves a second chance but he has had too many!!
Context (english)
02 Oct 2002
Yes, Camilo is accused of having thrown a bike at a police officer. All those who know him find the idea bizarre--Camilol is soft-spoken and unassuming. He also believes that social change will come from mobilizing large numbers of people, not from individual acts of heroism. His unglamorous work as a tenant organizer underlies this--he's not out flexing his muscles and acting tough. Not exactly some macho guy who's likely to chuck a bicycle at someone.

Beyond that, let's look at the political context in which he was charged. Over 400 people were arrested on a variety of charges, most of which were dropped or ended in acquittals. But the accusations were very serious. Riot, posession of weapons, conspiracy--all very serious charges. Trouble was, they were false.

But did you take the time to post diatribes against those folks as well? And if so, how did you feel after the courts disagreed with you?

We know that then-Police Commissioner Timoney has publicly boasted that he and other officers rode their bikes directly into a group of protesters. We know, as reported in the Boston Phoenix, that Camilo had a concussion when he was checked into jail. We also know that it is common for people to be charged with assaulting officers after being beaten by police themselves. And, as stated before, we know that a lot of people faced bogus charges after Philly.

What's more, we know that Camilo and his co-defendants are the last ones facing charges from the protests, and that the city of Philadelphia has faced both public criticism and lawsuits over its handling of the protests. And we know that former Police Commissioner Timoney has a personal interest in this case, having been there. It doesn't take a leftist to see that politics may influence his trial.

If all of that doesn't raise the slightest doubt about whether Camilo will face a fair trial, I'm not sure what will. But it certainly does for me and many, many others I've talked with.

And that's not to mention the impact on progressive movements in the country. Removing this organizer from the community where he grew up would be a big blow to local organizing, especially to the housing movement in which he works most directly. There's also the chilling impact it would have on people's wilingness to exercise their right to protest. Camilo has already found that tenants he works with are worried about attending protests, for fear that they could end up in a situation like his. This is very alarming for anyone interested in building a movement.

So that's why I'm very proud to support Camilo Viveiros. An I hope that you will too.