Saturday, November 18, 2006

Scarily Familiar


Yesterday Houston police used horses to break a peaceful demonstration by janitors protesting over low wages and a lack of health insurance. MyDD has the story.


Police cavalry attack women from miners women's support group. Orgreave coke works picket, Miner's strike Sheffield, South Yorkshire, UK. Date: 18/06/84.

Well, Karl Rove did warn you all that he had based the Bush presidency on the reign of Margaret Thatcher, foreign adventure and all. What I remember is that Britons were never as afraid that their nation would fall into totalitarian dictatorship as in the last days of Thatcher's rule when her fear of so-called "enemies within" reached its paranoid peak. Thankfully, saner heads in her own party cut her down to size and removed her from the leadership before a potential crisis point was reached. I hope America gets as lucky. I may be just wearing a tinfoil-hat here, but suppose you put together what Jim Webb sees with what Dick Cheney told the Federalist Society and add in the uber-right's own rhetoric about the enemy within and yesterday's use of the police as paramilitary strike-breakers and tell me you aren't the least bit worried.

Update Again via MyDD comes this testimony from one of those arrested, Anna Denise Solís, the Lead Organizer of SEIU Local 1877 in San José, CA:
We sat down in the intersection and the horses came immediately. It was really violent. They arrested us, and when we got to jail, we were pretty beat up. Not all of us got the medical attention we needed. The worst was a protester named Julia, who is severely diabetic. We kept telling the guards about her condition but they only gave her a piece of candy. During roll call, she started to complain about light-headedness. Finally she just collapsed unconscious on the floor. It was like she just dropped dead. The guard saw it but just kept going through the roll. Susan ran over there and took her pulse while the other inmates were yelling for help, saying we need to call somebody. The medical team strolled over, taking their own sweet time. She was unconscious for like 4 or 5 minutes.

They really tried to break us down. The first night they put the temperature so high that a woman--one of the other inmates--had a seizure. The second night they made it freezing and took away many of our blankets. We didn't have access to the cots so we had to sleep on a concrete floor. When we would finally fall asleep the guards would come and yell `Are you Anna Denise Solís? Are you so and so?' One of the protesters had a fractured wrist from the horses. She had a cast on and when she would fall asleep the guard would kick the cast to wake her up. She was in a lot of pain.

The guards would tell us: `This is what you get for protesting.' One of them said, `Who gives a shit about janitors making 5 dollars an hour? Lots of people make that much.' The other inmates--there were a lot of prostitutes in there--said that they had never seen the jail this bad. The guards told them: `We're trying to teach the protesters a lesson.' Nobody was getting out of jail because the processing was so slow. They would tell the prostitutes that everything is the protesters' fault. They were trying to turn everybody against each other.

I felt like I was in some Third World jail, not in America. One of the guards called us `whores' and if we talked back, we didn't get any lunch. We didn't even have the basic necessities. It felt like a police state, like marshal law, nobody had rights. Some of us had been arrested in other cities, and it was never this bad before.
The Houston Janitors website is here. Give them some solidarity. Here's another statement by a protestor, from that website:
“The horses came all of a sudden. They started jumping on top of people. I heard the women screaming. A horse stomped on top of me. I fell to the ground and hurt my arm. The horses just kept coming at us. I was terrified. I never thought the police would do something so aggressive, so violent.”

-- Mateo Portillo, 33
Houston Janitor
And Houston Janitors also has more photos and a vid of the heavy-handed police action here.

Someone - Gov. Perry, Bush, the Senate, someone - needs to start an independent enquiry into this brutality right now. The media needs to pick up the story bigtime and if you're a blogger, get on it. Solidarnosc. Cernig.

No comments: