[STRIKE REPORT-- From Sterling H (fwd)

Bryan A. Alexander bnalexan at umich.edu
Fri Sep 22 10:56:36 MDT 1995


Bryan Alexander
Department of English
University of Michigan

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Subject: [STRIKE REPORT-- From Sterling H

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From: Alec Meiklejohn <alec at umich.edu>
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Subject: [STRIKE REPORT-- From Sterling Heights to Detroit Riverfront]
In-Reply-To: Your message
 <Pine.SOL.3.91.950920102802.157A-100000 at tron.rs.itd.umich.edu> of Wed, 20 Sep
 1995 10:44:17 -0400 (EDT)
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>From Mike Dreiling:

Strike Report -- Sept. 16-17  (SECTION 1-- Focus on the Riverfront)
         (SECTION 2-- Focus on Arrest Experience)

The injunction against the Council of Newspaper Unions set the tone of
actions this last weekend.  Efforts to stall production at the Sterling
Heights plants with continuous traffic backups seemed to intensify
frustrations against the companies and the cops.  Traffic tickets were
passed out as a blatant form of harassment against the strikers and their
supporters.  It became clear though, around 7:30pm Sat. evening, that
production of the Sunday paper was taking place downtown, at the Free
Press riverfront plant.  Many supporters and strikers began to move their
action there.  Meanwhile, in Sterling Heights, the cops were stuck on
supporting the companies.  About every 3 hours, the cops would study the
crowd around Gate 1 and then move in.  Their focus seemed to be random,
at first.  The cops, in the most aggressive fashion, crossed Mound Rd.
and arrested people, often several at a time.  Several folks were thrown
to the ground, hit, and kicked. (See Section Two of the report).  After
their third run on the crowd, I left to the Sterling Heights police
station to check on some friends who were arrested (SEE SECTION 2).
 The atmosphere downtown was very different. Folks were excited
that they had held the line.  No trucks had left.  Only helicopters.  It
even seemed that the Detroit cops were respecting the picket.  After a
long struggle to close the gates to the plant, a somewhat amusing
struggle between picketers and the private company goons who were a
little sticky with juice by the end of the confrontation, the cops came
and locked the gates.  That was around 11:00pm.  Several hours of picket
line solidarity followed, suggesting a solid sense of victory.  Around
2:30am, several management dogs and goons scanned the perimeter of the
picket from atop the plant.  Something was being planned.  As I was
walking from the north gate to the main gate, while peering down a long
alley I noticed a sea of helmets reflecting moonlight.  The Detroit cops
were back in full force.  The pickets solidified and marched.  Two cops
approached the picket asking us to let them open the gates because we had
a victory.  He argued that it was now time for the papers to roll.  These
were only words that had a shallow echo amidst the chants of Union!
Union!  After a half hour of consultation with the cop-force of sticks,
helmets and clubs, their plan was set and they moved in.  A force of
about 300-350 cops marched toward the picket.  About 150 non-uniformed
goons with large clubs and helmets formed a perimeter around the
pickets.  Another 150 uniformed cops with Billy clubs moved in formation
to split the picket.  We stood with our arms together.  There were about
200 of us.  We were pushed, some to the ground, some with broken ribs,
and others dragged away, scraped on the sand and concrete.  For nearly 15
minutes we held the gate, but the force was overwhelming and violent.
With the picket split in two, the gate was opened by about 30 private
goons from inside.  The Detroit cops had to first pull away a couple of
railroad ties before the trucks could move.  Goons exited the plant with
shields and clubs, opened the gates, and backed off as about 15 trucks
and 5 cars drove out.  The goons banged their clubs against their shields
and chanted.  Many picketers were left in dismay as the truce with the
Detroit cops was broken.  Shame.  As the cops pulled away, the injured
were loaded into an Emergency Medical vehicle.  It was now about 4:00am.
A good deal of discussion followed as we tried to make sense of this
abrupt and violent demonstration of force by the Detroit police.  The
company managers stood atop the plant building, and we knew that the
struggle was moving to a new level.

In Solidarity,
Mike Dreiling

The union's plan Saturday night was to have supporters drive up and down
Mound Round slowly and impede traffic, hopefully culminating in a jam that
would keep the trucks in and the scabs out. We did this for about an hour
and a half; cops soon joined the flow, issuing tickets for impeding traffic
left and right, and when we stopped to get something to drink, we met someone
who told us it had been called off because of the ticketing. It never blocked
the traffic; we were told that 17 trucks had left the plant.

After driving Mound Rd. for 1 and 1/2 hours, we went to the gate to say hi
and talk with people. A few minutes after we arrived, squad cars pulled off
the median and blocked northbound Mound. A dozen or more cops in helmets
and carrying clubs walked across the street and into a scattered crowd
to  seize one guy who was doing nothing at the time.
Harry Clark

Melissa and I were apparently the first women arrested on the
picket, a detail the tv news found important. After hearing about
the seven mens' arrests and charges, I can only say that the
cops' sexism spared us worse fates. We were each charged with
misdemeanors for "interference" or obstructing a police officer.
When apprehending a man for defying the injunction for crossing
the main gate driveway too slowly, a cop bumped into me and I
bumped back. Though this has happened on other nights with no
consequences, it is apparently "illegal." The cop almost dropped
it b/c he wouldn't do anything alone. When another cop turned
around, they went for me & I resisted, apparently dragging
Melissa into it. She was also arrested for obstruction of a cop,
something that makes even less sense since she was no where near
an "officer". We were both carried across the street, photos
taken, etc.

Melissa and I casually caught up on each others' news, and the
cops generally didn't like this but were no more than snotty. One
cop was civil, and I later asked where the "nice cop" was to the
one who was booking us. He suddenly was hurt--we didn't think he
was nice? And started kissing our asses. They still kept us for
four hours though our friends had bond within 10 minutes. The
AFL-CIO ended up posting bond.

The arrested men got terrible treatment and much more severe
charges. All got charged w/disobeying the injunction (the cops'
interpretation of "immediate" dispersal for the delivery trucks),
one with assault (misdemeanor), and one with a felonious assault
on an officer and felonious destruction of police property.

I am acquainted with the former and am friends with the latter of
these two. He got out today (Monday) with his hand swollen huge
and scabs on his face and head. He was pepper sprayed, blinded
for two hours, and his face beaten to the concrete over and over.
The cops claim he weilded an ax handle at them, and though he had
one in his possession (holding his sign), he did not get one lick
in. He was only on the line 5 minutes, but they thought he didn't
move fast enough. They also claim he broke a cops' microphone (on
his helmet) which is the source of the property charge.

The other was beaten, put in isolation, and humiliated. They and
the others were transferred to Macomb County Jail for the
duration of the weekend. They slept on concrete and were
otherwise forced to stand because it was so overcrowded.
Apparently the county sheriffs expressed dislike of the Sterling
Heights cops, saying they'd gone too far.

The two men and I had all been on the line last Sat. when the
trucks had barreled through going 30-40 mph. The cops claimed
this weekend that they are enforcing the law "to the letter." Do
we need to ask again, "Which law?"

Mia Butzbaugh

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