|Date:||Mon, 24 May 1999 17:33:02 -0700 (PDT)|
|Subject:||URBAN WARFARE IN CHESTER, PA|
This message was posted to our Military Newsgroup but it seems to be relevant to this Brownfields discussion too. This message contains: 1. Letter from Zulene Mayfield, Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living 2. Philadelphia Inquirer, May 18, 1999 ARMY USES CHESTER PUBLIC HOUSING FOR TRAINING EXCERCISES Tony C. Date: Wed, 19 May 1999 20:15:57 -0400 >From: "Zulene Mayfield, Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living" <CRCQL1@aol.com> Dear friends, I am not sure how to put this. This community has been through so many injustices, but recently we've had the final straw placed upon us. We are experiencing a living hell. We have had trash trucks run over us, have tons of sewage pumped into the community, have thousands of tons of trash burned here, have millions of pounds of pollutants dropped on us but the latest attack has taken this fight to a total low. Beginning on May 13th at around 6:00 pm, a troop of the Army special forces division of Fort Bragg, NC disguised as police officers "took" over a public housing project and conducted what they are calling "urban warfare maneuvers." Without any notice, they began playing wargames using plastic bullets (something they are calling breach bombs), helicopters, etc. On May 14th, I went to our council meeting and questioned the mayor on who authorized this to occur. He said he needed to confer with our police chief (who incidently was sitting in the audience). When pressed on the matter, he refused to comment and they promptly ended the meeting. They have since then been taking messages from people who are calling the mayor's office, having the police commissioner call them back and tell them that if they have complaints to call our Congressman Brady's office. We have contacted Brady's office and are awaiting a response. But the ultimate responsiblity lies with the oppressive corrupt republican government here that has allowed the 4th largest incinerator, sewage, soil burners, tire burning, bioremediation of contaminated soil, etc. In fact, it is believed that industry has a special line to call into the mayors office (who by the way is up for re-election and is being opposed by a financially struggling democratic party). The Mayor's office is denying involvement. The Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living (CRCQL) is calling for massive marches!!! We have called for a massive planning meeting. We will post when the march will be. Please send the bu**hole in the Mayor's office your letters, phone calls, etc. We want them to feel the heat. His number is 610-447-7723; fax 610-447-7706. When we determine what military butthole is at fault we will also post the information. Please call me to help publicize these activities 610-485-6683 or 610-485-7730. Here is an article from the incident. Zulene Mayfield Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living 610-485-6683 CRCQL1@aol.com http://www.penweb.org/chester/ ---------------------------------------------- Philadelphia Inquirer, May 18, 1999 ARMY USES CHESTER PUBLIC HOUSING FOR TRAINING EXCERCISES Troops came in with explosives and ammunition. The units are vacant. Still, neighbors and some officials are shocked. By Dan Hardy, Inquirer Suburban Staff Chester - Acting under the cloak of darkness, 100 Army Special Operations troops descended on two vacant public housing complexes in three training exercise and terrified nearby residents and surprised even the housing director. "It was just a special-operations training in a urban environment, practicing how they would look at a target buidling and how they would attack it, " Army Special Operations spokesman Walkter Sokalski said. He said the troops, based in Fort Bragg, NC used special-training ammunition that disintergrated on contact and small explosives designed to blow in doors. He said Chester residents "were at no time at risk" during the operations, which were carried out on Wednesday night at McCafferty Village in the West End on Saturday and Sunday nights in Lamokin Village near the Commodore Barry Bridge. Both complexes are slated to be demolished and rebuilt. Residents of the areas around the two projects, some of whom were notified hours beforehand of a "law-enforcement training exercise," said they found the experience startling and intimidating. "There was a whole lot of noise, like bombs exploding and people shooting off automatic weapons," said Manuel Cooper, who lives across Highland Avenue from the McCafferty training site. "I saw people runnig in and out of buildings with pistols in their hands like they were really after somebody." Michael Lundy, executive director of the Chester Housing Authority, said he was told a month ago that the military was considering a training operation. He said he could not agree with it "right on the spot" because he was concerned about the negative image of Army troops with weapons in a public-housing area. He said the Army never called back, and "the first time I heard about it after that was after it had already happened." Sokalski said there was little advance notification because "we have to protect what we call out tactics, techiniques and procedures. If any future foreigh enemy knows what we do . . ., the things we have learned and trained upon are of no value. The more than 20 other urban counterterrorism exercises by the Army across the country since 1994 have provoked similar reactions In March 1997, the City of Charlotte, NC., evicted the Army after the first night of a would-be three night stand after public outcry. Likewise, the army cut short its stay in Houston and Pittsburgh when its activities, which typically involved fatique-clad soldiers bearing arms and setting off minor charges, prompted fears. Most Special Operations trianing is conducted at military facilities, Sokalski said. Exercises like the one in Chester are "a means for a commander to test his [troops'] training in other environments. . . If you want the best soldiers on your side, then they have to be well-trained by repetition and by doing it in different environments." Residents a few blocks away from the McCafferty Village training site were not told about the exercise. "I heard a loud noise like an explosion," said Elmire Green, who lives about two blocks from the stagging area. "About three minutes later, there was another one and the sound of shooting. I was terrified. I was frozen in a state of confusion; I was so scared I couldn't sleep all night." Chester was picked for the operation, Sokalski said, partly becasue there was a high degree of cooperation from local officials. "We contacted the mayor, the police, the fire department and the [Chester Housing Authority] director of techinical services, " he said. "they said, We have the authority to sign the paper' [authorizing the training]. We don't contradict these folks by going and checking with other people. We had what we thought were all the correct blocks checked." But Lundy, who oversees the Housing Authority, said he did not know about it. His public-safety director, Joseph Anthony, had been called at the last minute and told to help out. "He was given the impression that I knew about the operation and had sanctioned it," Lundy said. "That was not the case." Mayor Dominic F. Pileggi did not return repeated calls for comment yesterday. Police Commissioner Wendell N. Butler Jr. said: "[Army Speical Operations Command officials] gave me their credentials and said they wanted to use a federal housing site. I didn't get they impression that if I said no, they couldn't do it." Butler said he urged the Army representatives to get in touch with Lundy. "I certainly gave them his name, " he said. "I thought they were on the same page." Yesterday, State Rep. Thaddeus Kikland (D, Delaware), who represents Chester, decried the operation: "I think it's totally wrong. You don't hold Army covert operations in a residential setting....I don't see them doing this in any other neighborhoods or communities. It seems like if it's Chester, they just do what they want to do... What did we get out of this, except for a bunch of frightened people and a lot of confusion?" Sokalski took a different view. "this training is important," he said. "It has proven itself in numerous operations that the US Army saves lives. This Army saves lives. We want to thank the communities for being a part of saving people's lives in the future."
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