Cindy Sheehan is one of those soldiers for peace and justice much like the whistle blowers who have stood up to power and suffered for their belief in our democracy. Some will call her just a woman intent on publicity. Some will deride her decade long efforts in memory of her lost son as foolish. But she has been there with her body and soul while most of us, who agree with her same concerns, continue to live our comfortable lives and only voice our opinions in polite company.
The road she has taken is lonely and not easy but in the long run her road will be the highway that fills with like minded people demanding fundamental changes in our system. The Sanders’ campaign was the precursor to that busy highway but a “progressive’ Democratic Party platform, which will be ignored after the election, is not a solution, only a way station on the road to bringing back our withered democracy. It will be the whistle blowers and the Cindy Sheehans, and those who fight on that lonely path that will lead to the highway. – Ed.
Since my son Casey was murdered (by the US Empire and its cohorts, like Great Britain) in Iraq on April 04, 2004 and I have become a resister to aforementioned Empire, I have been arrested over 20 times (I lost count).
To be sure, some of those arrests were fairly benign – popped in front of the White House, or CIA, then out in a couple of hours with a citation. However, I have been treated very poorly and even the “easy” arrests always have some component of dehumanization and the threat of brutality. Once I was arrested in DC and the cop told me that he really agreed with me. I always opine why then don’t they arrest the criminals in Congress and the White House, and then I challenged him with this question: “You would kill me if you were ordered to, though, wouldn’t you?” His answer, “I guess I would have to.”
Not only have I been mistreated when I have been arrested, I never think I have done anything illegal. I believe that every time I have been detained, I have only been exercising my Constitutional rights to free speech, peaceable assemblage and the right to petition the government for redress of wrongs, among other things. The way the Constitution was written, Congress can’t make any laws abridging those rights, and that makes every single time I have been arrested, just one word: “bullshit.”
Anyway, one of the most egregious uses of force was once in NYC where I and three other women were sitting-in in front of the US mission to the UN demanding a meeting with then US representative to said body: John Bolton. We had been told ahead of time that someone there would accept a petition we were delivering with tens of thousands of signatures demanding that the US end hostilities in Iraq and Afghanistan (this was when Bush was still president and people still cared). It was International Working Women’s Day and I and my three comrades were treated that night to a complimentary iron-bar suite in the infamous Tombs with about twenty other women. Before we were plopped down in the Tombs, an NYC cop dragged me by my arm for about 15-20 feet along the hard concrete giving me a dislocated shoulder and a concussion. (I was, however, able to kick up and land a glancing blow to his crotchal area while he dragged me).
I can’t tell you how many times I have spent the night in jail in freezing cold cells: One time for almost three days. That arrest was in front of the White House and not only did I freeze for three days, but we got no food or water—only a cup of punch a couple of times a day. At the end of that detainment, my feet were shackled together and my wrists were shackled to my waist for eight hours in a holding cell while we were awaiting arraignment.
I have been left in tight handcuffs behind my back for hours upon hours. Once one of my wrists was shackled to a wall for four hours, then I was taken for a ride in a cop car in Washington, DC in the middle of January in the middle of the night with no coat, or heat. The cops had big, thick jackets on and I was berated by the driver (a veteran) for “shitting on” Casey’s “memory.”
Sacramento County Jail is a filthy pit with human waste floating in the garbage AND they tried to force us all to get TB tests after I was shoved hard against the wall for my mugshot. That night, jailers kept walking by my cell going, “so, that’s the one” and then they beat up a tiny Afghan woman right in front of me.
One late December day in 2006, my sister and I and three others were arrested in Crawford, TX. That’s the one and only time I was strip-searched which is a deeply humiliating and degrading experience. Dede and I spent the night shivering on the hard, cold cell floor and were grateful we had people working on the outside to spring us.
I could go on and on, but I want to say a few words about the other women (besides activists) I have been detained with. Every single woman I met was there because of economic hardship or when they got tired of being beaten up by their partners and retaliated. No matter how uncomfortable I ever felt in jail, I knew that I would always be getting out soon, or soon-ish. My heart breaks for all of my sisters who see only a life of continuing abuse from the system with all of its violence and force.
I always think, if this is how badly they treat a white woman (now grandmother) who is the mother of a so-called war hero, then I cannot even imagine the horrific treatment of people of color. Oh, wait I can, I see it on YouTube every day.
I see unprovoked and brutal cop killings of young black men and then I see those cops exonerated by the same system that hires them, trains them, and pays them. The system is always pronouncing itself “not-guilty” but if the roles are reversed, there is swift and oftentimes brutal (in)justice dealt out.
I have met mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters and friends of those brutally murdered by cops and I know what it’s like to have someone you care so much about murdered by a system that never holds its own accountable. It’s not only tragic, it’s infuriating. We have to mourn our loved ones AND fight the system that killed them?
Creeping fascism is winding its slimy way around this country and its happening even faster under the mismanagement of a black president and attorney general.
What can we do as a people under fire?
Remember, whatever happens here in America, is multiplied hundreds or thousands of times in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Palestine, Yemen, etc, and the racist wars abroad are magnified versions of the racist war here at home and those lives matter, too. We cannot allow a Democrat to get away with these multiple murders, just like cops should not.
Remember that being a police officer is actually one of the safest occupations out there; their lives are not under constant threat and they can lose the siege mentality. If a cop murders someone, don’t automatically believe that the slain person deserved it. Chances are very great that they did not. The absolutely insane thing is, many of these brutal slayings are actually on video, and the cops still skate free!
This year alone, 609 people have been killed by cops here in the US as of this writing—that’s more than three per day and it looks like about 34 cops have been killed by “perps” in the same time frame. That’s a wide and unconscionable disparity.
Gone are the days of Officer Friendly and here are the days of Officer Brutality and his/her merry band of enablers.
Face it, it’s an epidemic.
This post originally appeared in Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox.