Taking the Grand Central Balcony to Protest Torture

 Photo above by Bud Koritzer.

Thursday, May 28, as protests in 16 cities demanded that the Obama administration release an estimated 2,000 photographs sought by the ACLU, charges re-surfaced that the suppressed photos contradict President Obama's statement on May 12 that they are "not particularly sensational." 
 
General Antonio Taguba, who investigated the Abu Ghraib torture scandal for the Bush administration in 2004, told The Daily Telegraph on May 28, "These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency."  U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the White House responded with denials that the photos showed rape, prompting further confirmations and details from those who have seen the photos that they include extreme sexual humiliation of detainees.
 
On Thursday in New York, protesters gathered on 42nd Street, with dozens donning orange jumpsuits, representing detainees in US detention facilities.  They walked silently into the hall of Grand Central Station, and up both sides of the west staircase, where they unfurled a banner saying "Release the Torture Photographs" and held photos believed to be part of the 2,000 involved in the controversy.  Spontaneous applause went through the crowds of commuters, as thousands of cell phones snapped images.
 

more photos from May 28  here

"These photos must be released," said Debra Sweet of World Can't Wait, a leader of the protest.  "People in the rest of the world know about what's in these photos: torture.  It's the people in the United States who have to see the photos and face up to the truth that the U.S. government authorized and orchestrated torture.  If we are to stop future presidents from squashing habeas corpus rights as George Bush did; if we're going to prevent "prolonged" preventive detention, as President Obama is proposing, the people need to raise our voices against these violations of rights in the name of the 'war on terror.'  We demand an end to the illegitimate occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, the killing of civilians, and the use of torture to intimidate the populations."
 
Similar protests took place in Los Angeles during an Obama appearance on May 27, and on May 28 in Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, Atlanta, Houston, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Honolulu, Fresno, Greensboro NC, Portland OR, and Benton Harbor, Michigan, where George Bush spoke. Video of the protest at Democracy Now.  Photos.