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MARCH 2, 2001
10:00 AM
CONTACT:  R2K Legal Collective
Kris Hermes, R2K Legal Collective (215) 925-6791
Kate Sorensen, ACT UP Philadelphia (215) 476-3585
Lawrence Krasner, R2K Lawyer (215) 636-9500
RNC Felony Trials Begin with Accused 'Ringleader'
Kate Sorenesen of ACT UP!
PHILADELPHIA - March 2 - Jury trial to begin Tuesday, March 6th at 9:00AM in Room 707 of the Criminal Justice Center (13th & Filbert Sts) is the first of nearly a dozen felony trials

Kate Sorensen, of ACT UP Philadelphia, and a defendant from the GOP Convention protests, initially slapped with $1 million bail, will be going to trial Tuesday, March 6th through Thursday, March 8th. Sorensen is defending herself against charges of “Riot,” “Risking Catastrophe,” “Criminal Mischief,” and “Conspiracy.” Sorensen, an accused protest “ringleader” was originally charged with ten felonies.

WHO: Kate Sorensen, a long-time organizer and member of the AIDS activist group, ACT UP Philadelphia, was arrested on August 1, 2000, held on $1 million bail, later reduced to $100,000, and kept in jail for ten days. Sorensen was originally charged with ten misdemeanors and ten felonies. All of the misdemeanors and six felony charges were discharged in pretrial hearings. She will stand trial this week on four felony charges: riot, risking catastrophe, criminal mischief, and conspiracy.

WHAT: Sorensen is utilizing her right to a jury trial with jury selection to happen on the first day. Sorensen’s defense will take place in the courtroom of Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Pamela Dembe. This trial is an example of how law enforcement has been attempting to suppress people’s right to speak out and how activists are being targeted for their views and beliefs.

WHEN: Tuesday, March 6th at 9:00AM through Thursday, March 8th

WHERE: Room 707 of the Philadelphia Criminal Justice Center (CJC) at 13th and Filbert Streets

WHY: Due to the high level of Sorensen’s bail, and claims by law enforcement that she was a “ringleader,” her story is particularly compelling. Her case is another form of over-reaction by law enforcement and the judicial system. Sorensen’s case is indicative of the over-prosecution of hundreds of activists that have already had over one thousand charges thrown out due to acquittal, dismissal, or withdrawal for lack of evidence.

Allyson Collins of the Washington, DC-based group, Human Rights Watch, argues that the “allegations of excessively harsh treatment, including the high bail amounts set for many of those arrested, have a chilling effect on those who wish to express their views and exercise their right to free speech”

“This is a war on dissent,” says Sorensen’s lawyer, Lawrence Krasner. “The District Attorney must produce evidence that directly points to my client committing a crime. So far, the prosecution has only come up with false accusations and outlandish claims. This case is a fraud and a disgrace to the people of this city”

“Over ninety percent of the RNC cases have been dropped,” exclaims felony defendant Kate Sorensen. “The city of Philadelphia continues to ignore that they failed to handle the convention protests with integrity and honor. In an effort to serve the interest of the sponsors of the RNC, the city committed itself to tactics of violence, intimidation, and civil rights violations.”


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