National

'RODNEY KING'-STYLE FOOTAGE

Peace group protests activists' arrest, beating by cops

An umbrella organization of 51 citizens’ groups that has staged peace marches in Tokyo lodged a protest Tuesday over the arrests of three participants in one such walk in Shibuya Ward earlier this month, displaying video footage of one of them being repeatedly beaten by police.

During a news conference, Ken Takada, head of World Peace Now, denounced the trio’s July 4 arrest for allegedly obstructing justice during a rally held near JR Shibuya Station, saying the action was aimed at scaring away peace activists and suppressing civic activism.

Showing video footage of one of the trio being repeatedly beaten by more than a dozen police officers, lawyer Masatoshi Uchida, who heads the trio’s defense, said they plan to file a criminal complaint against the officers, alleging abuse of power.

Takada said 200 police officers, mainly riot cops, showed up at the rally, in which 1,200 people took part.

It was the seventh rally organized in Shibuya by the group over the past two years to protest the U.S.-led war on Iraq and the subsequent dispatch of Self-Defense Forces troops there, Takada said.

Each time, organizers obtained permission from police to use part of a public park and streets. Officers are often mobilized to regulate traffic during such events.

On that day, the participants called out to passersby to vote for candidates opposing the SDF dispatch in the July 11 House of Councilors election.

Shortly after the July 4 rally started at Miyamae Park, east of the station, police shoved a participant who was walking at the very end of the procession with their shields.

After the participant pushed back, police arrested him on charges of obstruction and similarly held another who protested the first arrest.

Another participant, identified as a member of a peace group in his 40s, was arrested shortly after the end of the rally after pushing officers’ shields several times to protest the pair’s arrest.

Police later searched the trio’s homes and the office of World Peace Now. The three are still being held at Shibuya Police Station.

In the video footage, shot by a participant at the rally, dozens of Metropolitan Police Department riot officers appear to repeatedly strike the third man.

After the man pushed against the shields, more than a dozen of officers pounced on him, held him to the ground and repeatedly kicked and stomped on him. The video shows how the officers handcuffed him, stripped off his shirt and dragged him on the asphalt sidewalk for about 10 meters.

Failing to heed their commander’s repeated orders to stop, the officers continued to assault the man even after he apparently lost consciousness. They finally lifted him waist high and smashed him to the ground.

The man sustained bruises all over his body, lawyer Uchida said.

The MPD declined comment on either the arrests or the assault on the man, saying an investigation is pending.

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