Jan 31, 2006, 23:50
SEE OUR BUSH STEP DOWN ACTION NOTICE. JOIN US ON FEBRUARY 4!
The following is a first-hand account of police harrassment and brutality against a World Can't Wait organizer in Cleveland. If anything like this happens to you, let us know asap! Contact email@example.com.
My name is Carol Fisher, and I am on the staff of Revolution Books in Cleveland OH. At the bookstore we have been immersed in building and supporting the initiatives of World Cant Wait. Yesterday, 1.28.06, while putting "Bush Step Down" posters on telephone poles along a major thoroughfare on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I was brutalized by Cleveland Heights police, charged with 2 counts of felony assault and held incommunicado under police custody in the hospital! This outrage and others like it must be exposed and opposed by all who hate the direction that the Bush regime is taking this country and the world.
Here is what happened:
I had set out from my house with a full agenda, to contact lots of people and get out materials about our upcoming Cleveland event to Drown Out the State of the Union address, and the call to march around the White House on Feb. 4th. My first stop was the an area known for its community of artists and progressives, where I stapled up posters for blocks and was greeted warmly by those who saw and appreciated what World Cant Wait is doing. I talked to an artist, and a Palestinian store owner who took fliers to distribute to customers.
Next stop, to the east side. I drove down a street in Cleveland Heights, another area known for its diversity and progressive history. This street was badly in need of postering too and though i was in a big hurry, I couldnt drive on without getting up a few signs. Before long a cop called from across the street: "Ma'am! Hundred dollar fine for doing that!" Oh really, since when? Another way of keeping us from getting the word out, eh? But not wanting to get arrested, I said ok and put up my staplegun and walked away. But that wasnt the end of it. "Ma'am! Hundred dollar fine unless you take those posters down." He is pursuing me across the street. Damn! OK fine, I say, I will take them down (not wanting to get into a confrontation, because I have lots to do today!) But this too is not enough for the cop. He wants my ID. I say I dont have my ID. He grabs my arm. I say let go of me, I am not doing anything wrong, I will take the posters down. People are watching to see what happens, are outraged but very afraid. The cop wont let go, he clearly wants more grief from me, and he is in the spotlight. He wants people to be scared. He pushes me against a store window and next thing I know I am face down on the sidewalk with two cops on top of me, one with his knee in my back. I am trying to call out to people, to tell them what the posters are about. They keep pushing my face into the sidewalk. I cant breathe.
I have osteoradionecrosis in my jaw, resulting from radiation treatments for cancer. My jawbone is slowly deteriorating, is very fragile, and doesnt heal well. I am 53 years old, not exactly a spring chicken. A hand comes down again to push my chin against the concrete. By this time there are four cops on the scene. My hands are tightly cuffed behind my back. They lift me up and shove me onto a parkbench and shackle my legs. I am still calling out, telling people what this is about. One of the cops says to me, "Shut up or I will kill you!", "I am sick of this anti-Bush shit!" "You are definitely going to the psyche ward." Then somebody calls the EMS, and a fire squad shows up. The cop superviser appears and puts his finger in my face: "I dont like it when people treat my men like this and if you don't obey the law you will suffer the consequences."
I am lifted into the EMS truck, hands still cuffed behind my back. I ask to make a call and this is refused, but a fireman offers to make a quick call for me. If not for this, no one would have known where I was or what was happening, a fate shared by many immigrants in this country. At the hospital, I am treated as an arch-criminal. Escorted by four policemen, I shuffle into the emergency room, legs still shackled, covered with leaves and mud. I think to myself, if I was Black, I would not have made it this far. I would probably be dead by now. People in the emergency room are shocked by the scene and by what I am saying happened. I probably do look pretty crazy by now.
They put me on a gurney and pull the curtains around. One female nurse and four male cops. They want me to undress in front of the cops. I refuse. The cops refuse to leave. Finally the nurse shields my body with a gown as I undress and put on hospital clothes. I am cuffed to the bed, and two cops remain guarding me the whole time. They put in an IV. I have no idea what they have in mind. Questions, probes, tests and a tetanus shot, a hint from the nurses that friends are calling to find out whats going on. First they say that one friend is coming in to see me, but that never happens.
After many hours a psychiatrist appears to determine my sanity. I dont want to talk to him, but have no choice. "This information is confidential", I say. Well yes, he says, but if the police want the information, I don't know if I can refuse... "This information is confidential", I repeat, and I tell him, there are times when you have to decide which side you are on. I have told him why I have wound up here and what they did to me, and I tell him, this is a moment in history when people have to stand firm against these repressive measures. He replies, "Fair enough", and proceeds to write a detailed record of my injuries.
I dont know it at the time, but outside in the waiting room all hell had broken loose. In a very short period of time, over a dozen WCW people showed up at the emergency room to demand that someone be allowed to see me. The WCW people discussed what was happening with the folks waiting in the ER, who were horrified at what was happening, and very supportive when they were shown the posters I had been putting up. The police and hospital staff claimed over and over that the police were in charge of me, and they determine what happens, not the doctors! Another example of a police state.
At one point, there was a big confrontation between the WCW people and the police, right in the ER. My supporters said that we weren't going to leave until someone saw me. Some of them were sitting in the waiting room holding the big green WCW posters.
The main cop tried to have a "private conversation" with the person with medical power of attorney. " NO! Come out here in the open where we can all hear!" As people gathered to listen to the conversation, and enter in their own opinions, the police threatened WCW folks with arrest! They argued, stood their ground, called this shameful (both to the police but also to the nurses who did nothing to stand against this shit). The cops kept saying that there was no legal right to see me, but people responded that, in Bush's America, the law is whatever the police say it is and that there is a moral and ethical right to to check on someone who is in the hospital.
Then a large phalanx of cops came. My friends pushed it as far as they could, then marched out of the ER, followed by the cops, all the way up to the street. 4 more people showed up who'd heard about what was happening and wanted to help.
A lawyer and a doctor, who are endorsers of the WCW Call, persisted in getting what info they could. All the while, people were calling the local media (who never showed up!), calling in complaints to the Cleveland Heights Police Department, and Cleveland Heights City Hall. I was never able to be seen by my own nurse or doctor or communicate by phone with anyone.
Shortly after being released from the hospital, I was released on my own recognizance. The battle is far from over. This is but one example of the attempts that the state, their authorities and spokespeople will make to try to keep us from opposing the crimes of this regime, and especially now, 2 days before the State of the Union address. Our cause is as righteous as it gets, and no attempts to intimidate or suppress, with threats or laws or physical abuse, should stop us but instead strengthen the resolve, build our organization and further demonstrate to the world that this regime is doomed, they are vicious, and they must be stopped.
As it says in the Call, "If we speak the truth, they will try to silence us. If we act, they will try to stop us. But we speak for the majority, here and around the world, and as we get this going we are going to reach out to the people who have been so badly fooled by Bush and we are NOT going to stop...The future is unwritten. Which one we get is up to us."
There are plans in the works for possibly a press conference, suing the Cleveland Heights Police Department, taking this issue of brutality to the Cleveland Heights City Council Meeting on Feb 6, doing a press conference, and circulating a pledge of medical personnel to not allow medical treatment to be run by the police. We will also be working with lawyers to fight these outrageous charges. If any legal aid could be offered nationally, it would really help.
Call the Cleveland Heights Police at 216-291-3883
Call Cleveland Heights City Hall at 216-291-4444
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 216-633-6200