[Marxism] IWW Protest in North Providence urges Justice
sabocat59 at mac.com
Tue Aug 28 10:28:19 MDT 2007
Protesters urge 'justice'
By Mark Arsenault and Lynn Arditi
August 28, 2007
NORTH PROVIDENCE — Clenched fists raised, close to 200 protesters
yesterday denounced the North Providence police and demanded
"justice" for a protester seriously injured two weeks ago while
demonstrating at an Asian restaurant on Mineral Spring Avenue.
"There's no labor picket line that should be attacked," shouted the
star speaker, Billy Randel, an Industrial Workers of the World
organizer from New York City. To the police officers keeping watch on
the protest, Randel yelled: "Maybe you should get a little more
training. Maybe you should join the IWW."
Local IWW members organized yesterday's protest to speak out against
the police response to the protest two weeks ago, during which 22-
year-old Alexandra Svoboda suffered a serious knee injury when
arrested by the North Providence police. She had been part of a
protest march down Mineral Spring Avenue toward a planned
demonstration at Jacky's Galaxie restaurant. The IWW says Jacky's was
targeted because the restaurant had done business with a New York
vendor that is accused of abusing workers with low wages and long hours.
There's no doubt Svoboda, a Nebraska native and student at the
University of Rhode Island who lives in Providence, suffered a
serious injury — her parents say she has already undergone four
How she was hurt is in dispute.
The protesters claim Svoboda is the victim of police brutality, and
was jumped by the police merely because she was in the front of the
march. Local IWW organizer Mark Bray, 29, of Providence, said
yesterday that Svoboda was hurt when two police officers "grabbed
her, one on either side" and one officer performed a "judo-like move"
in which he "used his leg, swung it around her leg, and hurled her
forward" onto the ground.
"It was a trip move similar to what you see, I imagine, in certain
martial-arts training or police training," Bray said, in an interview
after the protest. "Her knee had no place to go behind her leg." The
officer then "kneeled down to cuff her and even put weight on her
leg," Bray said, adding, "we have photos," which have not yet been
The police claim Svoboda pushed an officer, swung a set of drumsticks
at other officers when they tried to arrest her, then was hurt when
demonstrators tried to pull her away from the police and the officers
took her "down to the ground" out of concern for their own safety.
Deputy Police Chief Paul Marino and Mayor Charles Lombardi have said
they don't believe officers did anything wrong.
The office of Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch is conducting a
review into how Svoboda was hurt.
Yesterday's demonstration, on a humid afternoon under occasional
light sprinkles in the parking lot of North Providence High School,
was noisy but orderly.
Randel, a 55-year-old truck driver and union representative from
Queens, made the trip from New York with several other IWW
organizers. He has light eyes and shaggy gray sideburns that nearly
touch at the tip of his chin. He wore pressed jeans, work gloves and
a blue bandana over his head.
"Raise the fist of the worker in the air and let Alex know that she
is going to get justice," Randel shouted. ". . . The IWW will not
back down. Justice will be won."
Four North Providence police officers and at least two state troopers
watched the protest from the perimeter.
Jason Tompkins, 28, of Providence, who said he was with Svoboda at
the time she was injured, read from a statement by Svoboda's parents,
whom he said were participating in a similar protest yesterday in
their hometown in Nebraska, which drew 150 people to the state
capitol building in Lincoln.
The letter states that their daughter had undergone four trips to the
operating room in seven days and still has not begun orthopedic
reconstruction of her knee ligaments. "We've yet to hear of any
athlete whose knee ligaments were torn with such violent force," he
said, reading from the statement, "as to sever the main artery to the
lower leg and necessitate a bypass operation to save the leg."
Svoboda's parents said that their daughter was protesting "a New York
City restaurant supplier that paid workers only $4.95 per hour with
no overtime." Her protest was not surprising, her parents wrote,
because their daughter "has always had a big heart and followed her
convictions with actions."
Svoboda was home from the hospital yesterday, recovering. She did not
attend the protest.
The protesters yesterday included representatives from Rhode Island
Jobs for Justice, the coalition of which the IWW is a member; DARE;
Council 94 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal
Employees; Students for a Democratic Society, the Olneyville
Neighborhood Association and AS220.
"We're all supporting Alex," said Donna Schmader, 56, of Warwick, who
joined the protest with other members of the Westminster Unitarian
Universalist Church in East Greenwich. "We don't believe this can
Among the protesters was Eliezer Maca, an unemployed warehouse worker
from New York who said he lost his job after he began organizing
coworkers for the IWW. Maca, 29, a native of Mexico, said through an
interpreter that he now supports his wife and four children on $400 a
One of the speakers, Senia Barragan, likened Svoboda to a martyr, who
was targeted because she was "in the front."
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