Tag Archives: police brutality

Recommended Reading for Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Warning: Offsite links are not safe spaces. Articles and comments in the links may contain ableist, sexist, and other -ist language and ideas of varying intensity. Opinions expressed in the articles may not reflect the opinions held by the compiler of the post and links are provided as topics of interest and exploration only. I attempt to provide extra warnings for material like extreme violence/rape; however, your triggers/issues may vary, so please read with care.

2010 WWBC: An Australian wheelchair basketball athlete goes for a shot.

Photo by Flickr user Ben_Smith_UK, Creative Commons license.

Rhydian Fôn James at The Guardian: Comment is free: We want to work – but government would rather cut costs than help us

The vast majority of pension credit claimants make genuine claims for money to support them in old age. Only a few very strange people would suggest that pensions should be cut for everyone, just because a handful of pensioners play fast and loose with the system. And yet, that is the argument made for the sick and disabled. Why? It is all about the tabloid-stoked perception of anyone claiming disability-related benefits as potential scroungers who are able to work. This line of thought suggests that most disabled people are capable of some kind of work – however minimal – and that benefits disincentivise work. Such thinking allows the government to take a hacksaw to the welfare state in the guise of benevolence aimed at reducing fraud.

Jim Kenyon at Valley News: ‘Temporary Custody’ (content note, descriptions of police brutality)

After going outside, McKaig spotted a police officer standing on the steps leading into Burwell’s townhome. The officer wasn’t hard to miss — he held a high-powered rifle. “I know the man who lives there,” McKaig recalled telling him. “He’s a black man with a medical problem who was recently taken by ambulance to the hospital.”

Two officers — one female — apparently were already inside Burwell’s home. Upon arrival, Cutting said, officers discovered the man inside was unresponsive, and found smoke in the home emanating from a lamp that had been knocked over.

If the officers had stopped on the second floor to look at the pictures of Burwell and his elementary-school aged daughter displayed under the dining room table’s glass top, they probably would have had pretty good confirmation that their burglary suspect was in fact the townhome’s resident.

Shaun Heasley at Disability Scoop: Chemical Castration Drug Peddled As Autism Treatment (h/t Lauredhel, content note, neurobigotry)

However, many medical experts are questioning the claims, saying that there’s no reason to suggest a link between autism and mercury and that there is no proof that Lupron would help remove excessive amounts of mercury from the body. What’s more they are highlighting the risks that Lupron can bring patients including heart problems, stunted growth and impotence, reports the (Fort Lauderdale) Sun Sentinel.

Anna Gorman at the Los Angeles Times: Mentally ill immigrant detainees should receive legal representation, suit says

Immigrant detainees with severe mental disabilities have a constitutional right to legal representation in immigration court, according to a lawsuit filed late Monday by a coalition of legal organizations.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Los Angeles on behalf of six immigrants from California and Washington who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, depression and mental retardation and are being held in immigration detention centers around the country or are fighting their cases in immigration court.

“If someone cannot understand the proceedings against them, due process requires that they be given a lawyer to help them,” Ahilan Arulanantham, director of immigrants’ rights for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, said in a statement.

AllAfrica.com: Disability Movement Contributes to NCC

Mr Ngwale said 18 disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) with representation from most provinces met from Thursday to Saturday last week at Capital Hotel in Lusaka where it was resolved that Article 53 clause one of the Draft Constitution be amended to address concerns of persons with disability.

Mr Ngwale said in an interview in Lusaka yesterday the disability movement discussed and adopted principally, Article 53 of the Draft Constitution.

Article 53 clause one reads that persons with disabilities are entitled to enjoy all the rights and freedoms set out in this Bill of Rights on an equal basis with others.

Potentially relevant to your interests! I am back at Bitch Magazine for the next eight weeks under the title ‘Push(back) at the Intersections.’ A bit more about what I will be talking about:

I’m interested in how people interact with feminist critiques of pop culture, and I’m not just looking at nonfeminist responses, but also feminist ones. Some of the strongest pushback when it comes to feminist explorations of pop culture comes from within the feminist community, rather than from outside it.

Push(back) at the Intersections is about challenging dominant narratives, starting with ‘feminists united against the world.’ There are, as we know, all kinds of schisms within feminist communities, many of which play out over old and tired ground, including in the world of pop culture discussions.

Publicity and the Taser: When Stories Get Told (and When They Don’t)

Last night, a young Black man with epilepsy was admitted to a hospital in Louisiana after a suicide attempt. He declined to don a hospital gown and ‘attempted to leave his examination,’ at which point security stepped in. According to witnesses, security officers punched the young man in the lip and pulled out several of his dreadlocks before pulling out their Tasers and shocking him, causing him to have a seizure.

His family members state that although doctors present were aware of his seizure disorder, they indicated that it was ok for security to Tase him.

This is not an unusual story. In fact, Tasers and seizures have a long and sordid history:

“While we’re not able to comment on the details of this case, we are certainly concerned to hear that a person in apparent medical and emotional distress was subjected to the taser.” (Manchester, England, 2010)

The most recent report involves a Michigan man with epilepsy, who, when experiencing a seizure, apparently was unjustifiably tasered, clubbed, arrested, jailed and committed to a psychiatric facility for violent offenders — all based on non-threatening behaviors caused by a seizure. (Michigan, US, 2006, content note, describes police brutality)

A local family is questioning why a woman having a diabetic seizure would have to be tackled and shocked by police. (Portland, Oregon, US, 2007)

When the EMTs asked the cops to help them move Lassi from where he was lying on the floor, Lassi says, one of his “arms flailed during his diabetes-induced seizure, striking one of the LaGrange and Brookfield defendants. At no time did Mr. Lassi intentionally strike or offensively touch any of the LaGrange or Brookfield defendants.”

Lassi says LaGrange Park Officer Darren Pedota responded by Tasering him 11 times, for nearly a minute, as he lay helpless. (Chicago, Illinois, US, 2009)

A Texas man who called 911 to request medical assistance for a diabetic seizure earned a tasering from local cops for his trouble, the Waxahachie Daily Light reports. (Texas, US, 2007)

“Freddie was a law abiding resident of the United States of America. During his lifetime, he was never involved in any criminal activity. The records are there for everyone to see…He was the quintessential model son, grandson, nephew, grandnephew and cousin.” (Georgia, US, 2004, content note, describes police brutality)

The Taser is a ‘nonlethal’ electroshock weapon which has become highly controversial, for a lot of reasons, including the fact that people of colour are far more likely to be Tasered than white folks. The Taser is being adopted by more and more police departments, and perhaps unsurprisingly, Taser-related deaths are going up. The people most likely to be killed with a Taser in the United States are young Black men, and Tasers are especially heavily weaponised against people with disabilities, most particularly people with mental illness, seizure disorders, intellectual disabilities, and autism.

Fortunately for the patient in Louisiana, Taser use didn’t kill him. His family is, according to news reports, in the process of transferring him to another facility, where I sincerely hope that patients are not Tased.

What is remarkable about this case is not that it happened, but that I read about it. The only reason the media picked up the story of a young Black man being Tasered into an epileptic seizure is because of who he was: Derek Thomas is the nephew of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and according to the media, Justice Thomas is not happy with his nephew’s treatment.

I am very happy that Derek Thomas is being transferred to another facility, where he will hopefully get more appropriate care. I’m also pleased that he has supportive family members who are also influential and willing to fight for him.

Reading his story, though, makes me think of the scores of similar cases that I am not reading about. Justice and humane treatment should be available to all people, regardless of who they are, who their families are, and the colour of their skin. Tasing patients should never be deemed an appropriate treatment. This case angers me, and I am equally angered by the scores of similar cases taking place in hospitals across the United States right now that I will never know about because the media isn’t interested enough.

I would really like to see the mainstream media in the United States use this story as a starting point to explore the use of Tasers in hospitals, mental health facilities, and institutions, and to examine particularly closely the racial disparities in how, when, and where Tasers are used. This is an opportunity for some really terrific investigative journalism. Will anyone follow up on it?