Sept. 6, 2004 – Days after reports of inhumane and unhealthy conditions at the Pier 57 detention center, a temporary holding facility used for protesters and bystanders arrested during the Republican National Convention, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) and the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) are meeting to plan what the next step should be.
During the Republican National Convention (RNC), descriptions from detainees of their experiences at Pier 57 included reports of sustaining chemical burns and rashes from the floor of the detention center, which was previously used as a warehouse for industrial vehicles. Arrestees also reported a lack of medical attention, the use of small holding pens at the pier, and illegally lengthy detentions.
Yetta Hurland, lawyer with the NLG said, "The NLG and NYCLU have been collecting information [about] the allegations of holding tanks, chemical burns and asbestos." According to Hurland, members of the New York City Council has requested the testing of clothes worn by the detainees to identify what chemicals were on the floor at Pier 57.
Hurland said there is now less of the sense of urgency there was last week, when roughly 1,900 people were detained in arrests linked to anti-RNC activist events. "As far as I know, all the detainees have been released," Hurland stated. So far, there are no specific plans or lawsuits scheduled by the NLG and NYCLU, but they expect to spend the week gathering more information and making plans for further action.
In a statement released to the press, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said, "Contrary to the assertions of protesters who were inconvenienced by these arrests, the post-arrest screening site at Pier 57 was clean, well equipped and certainly humane."