Brutalized & Arrested in Cleveland for Posting "Bush Step Down" Posters
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
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 turh, 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 Sush
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