AR-News: Indiana Bookstore Raided To Stymie Protests

Pat Wolff wolffnm at
Fri Aug 15 16:08:43 EDT 2003

Indianapolis Star
Aug. 15, 2003

Search was attempt to stymie protests, group says 
By Tom Spalding
tom.spalding at

Political activists say a search of their bookstore by
city and county officials was an attempt to intimidate
them into not demonstrating at this weekend's National
Governors Association conference.

Members of the Solidarity Books Collective remained
defiant, however, saying at a news conference this
morning that they would proceed with plans to protest
at the Downtown event. 

Hugh Durruti said members of the group would conduct a
"festival of resistance" -- possibly at Monument
Circle and other city streets -- that will include
street theater, banners, puppets and even dancing.

He said that despite being denied a protest permit,
Solidarity is working with police and "every protest
we engage in will be legal." 

Inspectors with the Indianapolis Fire Department and
the city and county health departments, escorted by
city police, entered the Near-Northside residence in
the 2100 block of North Boulevard Place around 9 p.m.
Thursday. They were acting on a tip to IPD about
possible fire code violations.

Keni Washington, the landlord who rents the space to
Solidarity, called Thursday's search an embarrassing
show of force by police.

"They came looking for guns, came looking for bombs,
and all sorts of things," said Washington, who also is
president of the Indianapolis Peace & Justice Center.

No one was arrested during the inspection but a
handful of parking tickets were written and at least
one car was towed.

Also, Indianapolis Fire Capt. Ron Lovett said he found
10 to 15 violations - mostly electrical in nature. He
said there were no working smoke alarms on the
premises, so firefighters provided some. 

"They had some fire violations, but nothing major,"
Lovett said. "It was a legitimate complaint and we had
to investigate. It just happened to occur during the
governors conference."

No fines were issued. There is a 30-day period for the
violations to be repaired before legal action could be

Solidarity Books Collective has been in existence for
about 18 months, but in March relocated to the
Boulevard Place address, just north of Methodist

The two-story brick building has renters on the second
floor. The first floor is five rooms filled with
bookshelves, signs that protest the U.S.-led war in
Iraq and, in a television viewing area, shelves filled
with fresh bread.

Police report no prior runs to Solidarity's Boulevard
Place address. Eric Edgin, a group member, said there
is a strict anti-drug and anti-weapon policy that is
actually written in white paint on the green front
door of the residence.

The group allows people to read or take books. Several
local grassroots organization such as the Green Party
and the Indianapolis Vegetarian Society meet there. 

Indianapolis police said they were merely escorting
the fire officials and inspectors. 

"We did see literature that said 'disrupt the
governors conference,' and so clearly these people
were there in some way to protest the governors
conference," said police spokesman Lt. Paul

No weapons or hazardous materials were found. Police
said they saw personal protection gear that a
protester might wear to avoid being injured during a
demonstration. Police denied anything was confiscated.

A free-speech zone will be set up for protesters
across Maryland Street from the Marriott, where the
conference is being held, said Cheryl Reed, the event

That does not sit well with Washington. "To be herded
into a free speech zone is an obscenity," he said. 

Solidarity members say they have worked with other
groups planning to be in Indianapolis this weekend to
ensure that protests are peaceful. 

One of the Solidarity members who plans to protest is
Gwen Frisbie. The social worker was among a dozen
protesters arrested in March after confrontations with
mounted police officers and the office staffs of
Indiana's two U.S. senators Downtown.

"What we're seeing is more worthy of a dictatorship
than a democracy," Frisbie said, adding that the
search was meant "to frighten us from demonstrating
this weekend." 

Read tomorrow's Indianapolis Star for more details
about this story. Star reporters Michele McNeil Solida
and Matthew Tully contributed to this report. 

Call Star reporter Tom Spalding at 1-317-327-7939.


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