Saturday, 21 January 2017

US: Horrific Jail Experience for Death Penalty Protestors

On Tuesday, Jan. 17th, 18 people climbed the steps of the US Supreme Court and unfurled a huge banner that read “Stop Executions”.  They dropped red and yellow roses all over the steps (representing all the executed and their victims). Hundreds of supporters watched and sang as the police arrested them.

The group included leaders and ministers from Black Lives Matters, Sojourners and Red Letter Christians, as well as the anti-death penalty leaders, including members of “Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation,” people whose loved ones were killed but are against the death penalty.

"Though the action was beautiful, we paid for it dearly" says John Dear SJ. "The police put the cuffs on as tight as possible, and we heard the commander say, “Put them through the system.” For me, the officer pulled my right hand back and pinched the nerve on my thumb deliberately; I was sure he was going to break my hand. We thought another friend did have his hand and shoulder broken, so he was hospitalized. We were chained by the ankles, waists and behind our backs most of the time, and it was very painful. During our two horrific days in chains and jail, we had very little water, and for me, two pieces of wonder bread".

"On Tuesday night, (writes Dear) "we were put into very tiny cells with steel metal to lie on and bright lights on us. Once you lay down, you were covered in cockroaches. Not one person in the group slept and we each went through an unexpected, terrible ordeal. (Several of us, for example, were nauseous the entire time.)

On Wednesday, we were moved into the main cells of the courthouse, all chained together—ankles, waists, and wrists--and there met hundreds of guys awaiting court. We were arraigned at 5 p.m. on Wednesday night, pled guilty, and face sixty days in prison and a $5000 fine. The government is clearly going after us. We have a court hearing in late February, but we will work to put the death penalty on trial sometime in the Spring".

These awful conditions in US jails and the inhuman treatment meted out to non-violent protestors have nothing directly to do with Trump or Obama although these particular horrors took place under Obama's watch. The District of Columbia is responsible for the upkeep and conditions of its jail which has a shocking history.

For coverage of the protest itself see

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