Protester Beaten and Gagged
by Joe La Sac
I would like to tell a story about someone I met in the Ramsey County Jail this week, whom later I found out was tortured by police in the Ramsey County Jail.
Myself, along with eleven others detained at the RNC were sitting in a holding cell, waiting to be dressed in orange jumpsuits and sent to the ‘general population’ of inmates. The police outside were well prepared to control crowds with the weapons they were afforded by the US Federal Government. But inside the jail the resources were fairly low. We had to share blankets, we were not allowed showers, and many of us had to wait until the pepperspray and effects of other weapons wore off (or we were released from the jail) before feeling better.
The protester, Elliot Hughes, was brought into our holding cell and sat on the floor like the rest of us. We exchanged stories and he told us he was being charged with assaulting an officer. I witnessed his arrest personally, and like many others, the story behind it was fabricated. One police officer ran his bicycle into a curb, with no protesters around, and on his own he fell onto the ground. The other police officers turned around and saw this, used the self-inflicted incident as a pretext to arrest, beat, and peppers spray the other people in the area. Among them was Elliot Hughes.
Since the jail was filling up, and many sections (including my own) on “lockdown”, Elliot was removed from a solitary confinement cell and placed with us. He wasn’t allowed to interact with other people up until then because he was considered a violent anarchist. When Elliot came to our cell his cheerfulness and humor made us all feel better about the situation. Apparently he is only 19 years old. As we continued to play ad hoc games and entertain ourselves with other ideas, I would have to say personally that Elliot cheered more people in that cell than any other person.
Around noon Elliot was pulled from our cell and brought somewhere else. Of course, we couldn’t see and didn’t know where, and we did not think to ask since people were constantly coming and going.
After I was released on Wednesday morning, I learned that Elliot Hughes was beaten, tasered, and left in a pool of his own blood.
According to Kirk James Murphy, M.D., reported by other inmates, “Elliot was making noises to protest not receiving any food for more than twelve hours. Twelve officers entered his cell. Screams were heard for over five minutes. He was tasered three times, maced, and beaten, then removed and the men were told he was being taken to a restraint chair.”
He appears on Wednesday’s Submedia dispatch, speaking about the incident (although Elliot was not an RNC Welcoming Committee member as it says in the video). According to Kirk James Murphy, inside the jail, the correctional officers have been doing the following to inmates there:
- torture with electroshock weapons (Tasers)
- torture with chemical weapons
- stomp on a young man’s chest
- cruelly (perhaps fatally) deny medical care to a victim spitting up blood (the fancy medical name is hemoptysis) from thoracic trauma
- respond to calls for food with torture by beating, Taser, and chemical weapons: the same chemical weapons known to cause respiratory arrest and death in victims with pulmonary disease. “Spitting up blood” is a symptom of pulmonary disease so severe as to require emergency medical evaluation.
- then tie up the victim in “restraint chairs” known to exacerbate pre-existing breathing difficulties in some victims of thoracic trauma.
Inmates at this jail, who more than likely were picked up on false accusations and misinformation, are being treated just as this government treats those who are deemed terrorists and domestic enemies of the United States. It is very clear that the Ramsey County Jail is our Gauntanamo Bay, Cuba.
To many of you this may be shocking. But perhaps it shouldn’t be. Are we really surprised that our government and those acting on its behalf would do such a thing to a cheerful nineteen year-old who disagrees with this governments’ policies and wanted to assemble with others who felt the same way?
I can write more about these conventions when I am back at home. But I leave St. Paul, MN for Tacoma, WA today even more disgusted with what I have seen here than before I came.