Now here’s a wonderful story of how President Bush is making America safer. Seems some poor 16 year-old kid by the name of Benjamin Traslavina was at the Republican National Convention as part of the Junior Statesmen Foundation group which is a nonpartisan education organization designed to prepare students nationwide for effective leadership in student government. Benjamin writes for is school newspaper and he apparently thought it would be a good story when the folks from ACT Up stood up at one point during the convention to stage a protest so he tried to get a little closer to snap a picture or two, but before he got very far they were already being led away so he sat back down. Problem is that the Secret Service apparently felt he’d gotten too close to the protesters and they grabbed him and carted him off with the rest of the ACT Up folks.
“He apparently was identified as someone who was a participant in the demonstration, but from everything we know, it’s a total case of mistaken identification,” Prosser said. “I didn’t see him go, but students saw him. Some of our students and staff said, ‘Wasn’t that Benjamin taken away with the demonstrators?’ Our reaction was that it had to be a case of mistaken identity. We honestly believed it would be resolved and sorted out.”
But it wasn’t. Even though the Act Up protesters told authorities that Benjamin wasn’t part of the group, he was taken away in metal handcuffs. They took his camera and threw away his film. He also had credentials, but those were taken too.
“I was cooperative,” he said. “I assumed it would work out and I wouldn’t be sent to jail and left overnight.”
He was wrong. Not only did it not get sorted out and he did spend the night in jail, but he was charged with a felony :
“At every step of the way, I told just about everybody that I wasn’t part of the protest,” Benjamin said, sitting Friday on the front porch of his family’s Lynbrook home. “I was frightened when I first got in and extremely frightened when I was informed of the charges.”
Amazingly enough this happened in spite of the fact that the executive director of the Junior Statesmen Foundation told the Secret Service that Benjamin was part of his group and the folks from ACT Up told the police that Benjamin wasn’t part of their group. No one listened. Worse, no one informed his mother.
Benjamin was loaded onto a police wagon and taken to Chelsea Piers for processing. He was checked for weapons and his mug shot was taken.
Meanwhile, the student group had contacted Benjamin’s mother, Eileen, who was frantically looking for her son. She didn’t find out where he was until midnight, when a police officer let Benjamin make a call from his cell phone.
“I couldn’t get any information,” his mother said. “For 12 hours we didn’t know where he was. It was like he vaporized.”
Benjamin was then taken to 100 Centre Street, still with the Act Up protesters. There, he was moved from holding cell to holding cell.
By Thursday afternoon, he was allowed to meet with a lawyer from the Lawyer’s Guild. He found out the charges against him—a felony for inciting a riot, a misdemeanor for assault and a violation for disorderly conduct.
Welcome to Bush’s America, kid. If this clown gets reelected you can expect more of this kind of crap.