City Desk

Pershing Park Case: Another Police Official Heard Ramsey Order Arrests


A few months ago, Det. Paul Hustler came forward and stated in his sworn affidavit that he had heard D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey give the order to arrest the 400 individuals in Pershing Park on Sept. 27, 2002. The testimony had contradicted the former chief's sworn-statements in which he denied ordering the arrests.

Ramsey has long since left the police department. He is now Philly's top cop. Kathy Patterson, the councilmember who led the investigation [PDF] into Pershing Park, is no longer in politics.

Even seven years later, the events of that day still provoke. Hustler's deposition cost the city big time. The District has agreed to pay Ramsey's attorney more than $100,000 in legal fees for three months worth of work–much of that work must concern Hustler's testimony. The AG Peter Nickles wasted more time and money filing a motion that essentially attacked Hustler's character. At the last hearing on the Pershing Park cases, U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan allowed defendants to depose Hustler. This will only cost the city more dough.

And yet, Hustler's testimony concerning Ramsey's alleged order is really, really old news. Another police official had pretty much said the same thing on Nov. 5, 2003.

Here is what Hustler stated in his affidavit in mid-November:

"I was standing about 8 to 9 feet away from Chief Ramsey and Assistant Chief Fitzgerald, with Assistant Chief Jordan and Assistant Chief Newsham standing around. At this time no arrests of those protesters had been made. As I walked closer, about 5 to 6 feet away from them, I heard Chief Ramsey say we're going to lock them up and teach them a lesson."

Here is what Captain Ralph McLean stated about the arrests at Pershing Park  in his testimony before the D.C. Council on Nov. 5, 2003:

"I remember a group that was involved in discussions, Chief Ramsey, Chief Jordan, Assistant Chief Fitzgerald, Chief Newsham. There were several other people. I think Joe Gentile was there for a while, but I'm not sure at what point he came and left. He came and went several times....The main discussion I remember was OK, we've got them, what are we going to do with them?"

McLean goes on to state:

"It was—in my mind—it was a lengthy discussion. It could have taken a minute or less, but there was a lot of back and forth between Chief Ramsey, Chief Newsham. Chief Jordan was particularly vocal."

McLean was then asked what Ramsey's said during the discussion:

"[Ramsey] ordered Assistant Chief Newsham to lock the protesters in Pershing Park up....It is very vivid in my memory....My recollection is pretty much that Chief Ramsey said, lock them up."

After the discussion broke up, McLean questioned Newsham about having to arrest everyone in the park:

"I said, 'OK, Chief, exactly what are we going to lock them up for?' And he stopped and he turned toward me and said, 'Well, what do we have?' I said, 'Well, the last group, they were definitely off their permit. We can lock them up for parading without a permit.' I said, 'But there were other people in the park. I don't know what we can do about that.' And he said, 'Well, you heard [Ramsey], we're locking them up.' I said, 'OK.'"

McLean said that no one conducting the department's internal investigation into Pershing Park interviewed him. "I thought it was kind of odd," he told the Council. "But, you know, that's not—that's not my place....I didn't understand why nobody had spoken to me."

*photo by Darrow Montgomery.

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  • Comrade Al Gonzales

    Ramsey = "dirty cop". DC = "dumbasses for paying Ramsey's attorney fees & pension".

  • Comrade Al Gonzales

    Paul Robeson – Man of the Millenium. All American football [Rutgers, two years], singer, scholar, actor, communist, trade union activist, peace activist, author, lawyer, graduate of Columbia Law School, Phi Beta Kappa Society laureate, and a recipient of the Spingarn Medal and Stalin Peace Prize.

    Poisoned repeatedly & finally assassinated by the CIA.

    Supported the communist troops in Spain in 1930s – with Orwell, Dos Passos, Hemingway [who later became a turncoat].

    Robeson achieved worldwide fame during his life for his artistic accomplishments, and his outspoken, radical beliefs which largely clashed with the colonial powers of Western Europe and the Jim Crow climate of the pre-civil rights United States, thus becoming a prime target during the McCarthyist era. Robeson remained, throughout his life, committed to socialism and anti-colonialism as a means to world peace and was unapologetic about his political views.

    Full academic scholarship to Rutgers University, fifteen varsity letters in American football, baseball, basketball, and track and field. Robeson was only the third African-American student accepted at Rutger, and he was the only black student during his time on campus. Robeson was one of three classmates at Rutgers accepted into Phi Beta Kappa in his third year.

    Robeson found worldwide fame as an actor and singing star of both stage and radio with his bass voice and commanding presence. His rich vocal instrument descended as low as C below the bass clef.

    Paul Robeson spent many years abroad during his early career on stage and in concert. Eager to understand their struggle against poverty and harsh working conditions, he met with Welsh coal miners in the late 1920s who were protesting unfair labor practices by colliery owners. This led him to a greater political awareness transcending race and showing him that, ultimately, the struggles of oppressed people are due to inequities in the class structure of capitalism rather than racial divisions. In London, he became aware of the large body of knowledge on African history and culture that was not available in the United States. As his political consciousness grew, Robeson became an unwavering supporter of the International Brigades and their struggle to liberate Spain from the fascist government of General Francisco Franco. He also supported the cause of Jewish refugees from Nazism.

    Robeson toured Republican Spain during the Spanish Civil War and was photographed with members of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, including its black commander Oliver Law. Robeson's image is featured prominently in the only national historical monument dedicated to the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. The monument was unveiled on The Embarcadero in San Francisco in 2008.

    Following Paul Robeson's first trip to Russia in late 1934, he became a lover and advocate of not just the Soviet Union's socialist experiment and its culture and history, but of the Russian peoples. Robeson became fluent in Russian, studied Russian history in depth, learned about the many national minorities (eg: Yakuts, Uzbeks and Tatars) and wrote numerous essays and articles demonstrating his deeply held beliefs that the US should seek peace and understanding with Soviet Russia. He also felt African-Americans showed many similarities to the Russian peoples.

    Having experienced first hand during the 1930s a climate in Russia that he perceived as free from racial prejudice and then to see no western country or superpower actively attempt any comparable commitment to the rights of minorities or blacks, Robeson refused pressure to publicly censure the Soviet experiment. In his opinion, the existence of the USSR was the guarantee of political balance in the world.

    Paul Robeson - a man. We should all strive to "be like Paul". Ask yourself, what would would Mr. Robeson do? Motivate yourself. Work for world peace & communism.

  • Comrade Al Gonzales

    Robeson saw first hand in the 1930s a climate in Russia free from racial prejudice. In Stalin’s USSR, racists got the death penalty. Racism ended quickly.

    There is no racism in communist societies. The Abraham Lincoln Brigade in Spain was commanded by a black man, Oliver Law, at a time [1930s] when, if he were in the US Army, he would have been peeling potatoes & mopping floors.

    End racism! Embrace communism!

  • Q!

    Uhmm Al, I know quite a bit about Paul Robeson. Are you contrasting Robeson to Ramsey or is this simply a Pre-Black History Month Report?

  • Former Staffer

    personal civil liability.

    bankrupt ramsay. he knew what he was doing was illegal.

  • Comrade Al Gonzales

    I make no sense.

    I am sorry.

  • Comrade Al Gonzales

    So some punk is using my name to post - go right ahead, loser.

  • Q!

    Oh No. TWO ANGRY / COMRADE ALs. I picked the wrong time to return to CityDesk. One way to alleviate this Al is to use special symbols in your name. ☺☻♥♦♣♠•◘○, etc. They can be duplicated, but they are a pain to use.

  • Comrade ♥ Al ♥ Gonzales ♥

    Thanks, Q! What a sweetheart you are ;)