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Re: Rally Agaist Torture (12/10)

The problem with this protest was it was silent on local practices which verge on and include torture.

These include no tasering guidelines or public accountability on tasering for the SCPD and Deputies. The in-custody death of David Anthony Cross after being tasered while surrounded with six deputies in the jail is still fresh in my mind.

And the mask-and-chair used to "restrain" drunks in the jail in a special holding cell for hours and hours where they can sit in their own piss.

Then there's the City Council's Sleep Deprivation Law (also known as the Sleeping Ban) which legally requires homeless people to leave the city limits, stay awake between the hours of 11 PM and 8:30 AM, or find some private person to give them sanctuary.

Not least and probably not last are forced drugging practices at the Dominican Hospital's psych ward where those labeled "mentally ill" are held against their will and forcibly medicated with psychiatric drugs that World Health Organization studies have found actually increase the brain's susceptibility to psychosis (see Robert Whitake's book--Madness in America). The token Reece hearings that are supposed to give those faced with forced drugging a chance to challenge this practice are largely a joke. The county-funded advocate is largely window dressing.

The local chapters of Amnesty International and the ACLU have never taken up the issue of LOCAL torture to my knowledge. Councilmember Mike Rotkin remains on the Board of Directors of the ACLU. While this organization grows bigger and richer off the (legitimate) fears of the community regarding the Republican/Democratic assault on civil liberties after 9-11, it says nothing about local abuses (including, of course, the local jail packed with local drug war victims).

Tony Madrigal is particularly two-faced about this issue, having come to City Council with promises to labor and progressives to address such issues as the Sleeping Ban.

It's disheartening and leaves a bad taste in my mouth to see people trotting around with signs that say nothing about local abuses, hosting politicians who have the power to challenge or change them.

Local author and UCSC professor Paul Ortiz, who also spoke at the event, has said he opposes the Sleeping Ban. I'll be interviewing him next Sunday (December 18) at 9:30 AM on Free Radio Santa Cruz (101.1 FM) .
 


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