Posts tagged Los Angeles

Death by Homeland Security (#2)

(Via La Chola 2008-03-17.)

Francisco Castaneda, a refugee from the civil war in El Salvador, died on February 16, 2008, from metastatic penile cancer.

He died because he went without getting a biopsy or receiving any medical treatment for about a year after obvious and excruciatingly painful symptoms began to show up. He went without the biopsy and the treatment because the United States government’s immigration Securitate had him locked in a cage at the time, and they repeatedly refused to let him get any treatment.

I came to the United States from El Salvador with my mother and siblings when I was ten years old to escape from the civil war. my family moved to Los Angeles where I went to school and began working at the age of 17. My mother died of cancer when I was pretty young, before she was able to get us all legal immigration status. After my mom died, I looked to my community for support, and found myself wrapped up in drugs instead, which, today, I deeply regret. I worked, doing construction, up until I went to prison on a drug charge, where I spent just four months before I was transferred into ICE detention.

When I entered ICE custody at the San Diego Correctional Facility in March 2006, I immediately told them I had a very painful lesion on my penis. After a day or two, Dr. Walker examined me and recognized that the lesion was a problem. He said he would request that I see a specialist right away.

But instead of sending me directly to a specialist, I was forced to wait, and wait, and wait, and wait. All the while, my pain got worse. It started to bleed even more and smell really bad. I also had discharge coming out of it. Aparrently the Division of Immigration Health Services was deciding whether to grant the request. Dr. Walker submitted the request more than once and, after more than a month, it was finally granted. When I saw an oncologist he told me it might be cancer and I needed a biopsy. He offered to admit me to a hospital immediately for the biopsy, but ICE refused to permit a biopsy and told the oncologist that they wanted to try a more cost-effective treatment.

I was then referred to a urologist, Dr. Masters, but I only got to see that urologist two-and-a-half months later, after I filed sick call requests and grievances with ICE. The urologist said I needed a circumcision to remove the lesion and sop the pain and bleeding, and also said I needed a biopsy to figure out if I had cancer. ICE and the Division of Immigration Health Services never did either of those things. They said that it was elective surgery.

My pain was getting worse by the day. When you are in detention, you can’t help yourself. I knew I had a problem, but with everything you have to ask for help. I tried to get medical help everyday. Sometimes I would show the guards my underwear with blood in it to get them to take me to medical, but then they would say they couldn’t do anything for me. All they gave me was Motrin and other pain pills. At one point, the doctor gave me special permission to have more clean underwear and bedsheets, because I was getting blood on everything. A guard from my unit once told me he would pray for me because he could see how much I was suffering.

Several more requests for a biopsy were denied. They told me in writing that I could get the surgery after I left the facility–when I was deported.

In late November 2006, I was transferred from San Diego to San Pedro Service Processing Center. When I got there I immediately filed sick call slips about my problem. after a few days I saw the doctors. I told them about my pain and showed them the blood in my boxer shorts and asked them to examine my penis. They didn’t even look at it–one of them said I couldn’t be helped because I needed elective surgery. They just gave me more pain pills.

In the middle of December, I noticed a lump in my groin. It hurt a lot and was a little bit smaller than a fist, so I filed a sick call slip about it. Another detainee told me it could be a hernia. I never got any treatment for it, and I later found out that was a tumor, because the cancer had already spread.

In the beginning of January, one of the guards told me I was going to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. They put me in handcuffs and leg shackles and drove me in a van to the emergency room. When I got there the officer walked all around trying to find someone to see me, but he was told I would have to wait in line like everyone else. After about an hour of following him all chained up, he took me back to San Pedro and I didn’t get to see anyone.

Back when I was in San Diego, another detainee gave me the phone number for the ACLU and said they might be able to help me. I called them, and spoke with Mr. Tom Jawetz, here, and told him my story about how much pain I was in. When I got to San Pedro he sent letters and called the people at the facility to try to help me get medical care. Finally, around the end of January, immigration agreed to let me get a biopsy. They made an appointment with the doctor, but just before the surgery they released me from custody. A doctor actually walked me out of San Pedro and told me I was released because of my serious medical condition and he encouraged me to get medical attention.

The first thing I did was call the doctor to see whether I could still get my biopsy. The secretary told me ICE had cancelled it. I then went back to the emergency room at Harbor-UCLA–the same place they had left me in the waiting room in shackles–and I waited to see a doctor and finally get my biopsy. A few days later, the doctor told me that I ahd cancer and would have to have surgery right away to remove my penis. He said if I didn’t have the surgery I would be dead within one year. On February 14–Valentine’s Day–nine days after ICE released me from custody, I had the surgery to remove my penis. Since then, I have been through five aggressive week-long rounds of chemotherapy. Doctors said my cancer spreads very fast–it had already spread to my lymph nodes and maybe my stomach.

I’m sure you can at least image some of how this feels. I am a 35-year-old man without a penis with my life on the line. I have a young daughter, Vanessa, who is only 14. She is here with me today because she wanted to support me–and because I wanted her to see her father do something for the greater good, so that she will have that memory of me. The thought that her pain–and mine–could have been avoided almost makes this too much to bear.

I had to be here today because I am not the only one who didn’t get the medical care I needed. It was routine for detainees to have to wait weeks or months to get even basic care. Who knows how many tragic endings can be avoided if ICE will only remember that, regardless of why a person is in detention and regardless of where they will end up, they are still human and deserve basic, humane medical care.

In many ways, it’s too late for me. Short of a miracle, the most I can hope for are some good days with Vanessa and justice. My doctors are working on the good days and, thankfully, my attorneys at Public Justice here in Washington, Mr. Conal Doyle in California, and the ACLU are working on the justice–not just for me, but for the many others who are suffering and will never get help unless ICE is forced to make major changes in the medical care provided to immigrant detainees.

I am here to ask each of you, members of Congress, to bring an end to the unnecessary suffering that I, and too many others, have been forced to endure in ICE detention.

— Francisco Castaneda (2007-10-04), testifying before the House Immigration Subcommittee Hearing on Detention and Removal: Immigration Detainee Medical Care

This man’s life could have been saved. He wanted to get medical treatment in March 2006. His doctor recommended a biopsy. If he were a free man, he could have gotten this treatment, but as a prisoner of the U.S. government’s Homeland Securitate, he was forced to stay where they wanted him to stay, go where they wanted him to go, and get what they wanted him to get. So he lived with excruciating pain for two years while the cancer grew, spread, and ate him away from the inside. It didn’t matter when he developed a painful lesion; it didn’t matter when he bled everywhere for months; it didn’t even matter when he developed a tumor the size of his fist. What matters to the ICE bordercrats, and their hired thugs, is that this man once possessed a stimulant that the U.S. government didn’t approve of him having, and, to their minds, that’s a good enough reason to grab him at gunpoint, lock him in a cage for months on end, and then exile him from the home he has lived in since he was 10 years old. Or, in this case, to just lock him in the cage and deliberately deny him medical treatment until the imprisonment turns into a slow-motion death sentence for a nonviolent petty drug charge. What, after all, is the life of Francisco Castaneda — who is, after all, only a man, a son, the father of a teenaged girl — compared with the duty to zealously protect the prohibitionist domestic policies of the U.S. federal government, the awful importance of rigorously preserving the sanctity of imaginary lines in the southwestern desert, and the honor of the politico-cultural system of international apartheid, which those lines are drawn to implement?

Federal judge Dean Pregerson just issued a ruling in which he denounced ICE’s actions, or inaction, as conduct that transcends negligence by miles. It bespeaks of conduct that, if true, should be taught to every law student as conduct for which the moniker cruel is inadequate. The primary practical effect of this ruling is that Francisco Casteneda’s family will be able to sue ICE in federal court for his death. They certainly deserve whatever compensation they can get for this horrible crime. But even if they succeed, it must be remembered that the sanctimonious, unaccountable thugs who effectively tortured a peaceful man to death — the immigration cops, the prison guards, and the comfortable bureaucrats, government lawyers, and politicians who direct them in their actions — will never pay a damned cent for what they did. What they will do, if a judgment is entered against them, is to help themselves to tax money in order to make the pay-out, sticking the rest of us–who never had anything to do with their asinine border laws, immigration prisons, or callous indifference to human life–with the bill. Then they will go on doing exactly the same vicious and inhuman things to peaceful people who never did anything to deserve such appalling treatment. And why wouldn’t they? As far as they can see, they have every reason to believe that none of them will ever be held personally accountable for their choices.

Further reading:

The purpose of government schools is to train your children to love the government.

And if you don’t like the training that the government is giving them, you can go to prison.

A California appeals court ruling clamping down on homeschooling by parents without teaching credentials sent shock waves across the state this week, leaving an estimated 166,000 children as possible truants and their parents at risk of prosecution.

… The ruling arose from a child welfare dispute between the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and Philip and Mary Long of Lynwood, who have been homeschooling their eight children. Mary Long is their teacher, but holds no teaching credential.

… The Second District Court of Appeal ruled that California law requires parents to send their children to full-time public or private schools or have them taught by credentialed tutors at home.

California courts have held that … parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children, Justice H. Walter Croskey said in the 3-0 ruling issued on Feb. 28. Parents have a legal duty to see to their children’s schooling under the provisions of these laws.

Parents can be criminally prosecuted for failing to comply, Croskey said.

A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare, the judge wrote, quoting from a 1961 case on a similar issue.

— Bob Egelko and Jill Tucker, San Francisco Chronicle (2008-03-07): Homeschoolers’ setback sends shock waves through state

I suspect that if I knew the people involved in this case, I would have no particular sympathy for Philip Long, who came under the court’s scrutiny in the first place because one of his own children filed a complaint for child abuse and neglect.

If that individual child wants out of the Longs’ homeschooling, or for that matter wants out of the Longs’ home entirely, she or he should be able to get out, without any danger of being locked up, forcibly returned under the state’s Fugitive Child Laws, or getting beaten up by angry adults. Currently, children in the state of California don’t have that freedom. But the right way to address whatever abuse or neglect there may be in the Long family is precisely to recognize and respect that freedom for each individual child, rather than by forcing the parents to place all their children, regardless of what those individual children may want, under the surveillance, supervision, and power of even more adults — government-approved teachers, social workers, and other professional busybodies — with nothing better to recommend them than political connections and a sanctimonious sense of entitlement.

And the solution is certainly not to issue a general ruling claiming that the government has any business at all making sure that all children are indoctrinated to the fullest extent of the law in the government’s own ideas of patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation. Using the threat of fines and prison in order to force all parents and all children, no matter what their family situation, to participate in a system of government-approved institutionalized schooling, explicitly for the propaganda purpose of training school children to love and serve the existing régime, is a case study in the most vile sort of authoritarian government.

(Via Dan Clore @ LeftLibertarian 2.)

Further reading:

Urban homesteading

So, I have an essay coming up in next month’s Freeman (thanks to the encouragement and editorial efforts of the indefatigable Sheldon Richman). It’s called Scratching By, and the theme is to explain how it’s not the free market, but rather the State, in its role as the invisible fist of corporate capitalism, that creates the material predicament faced by poor folks in American cities. One of the topics that I touched on there, and which I mentioned before in my comments on the South Central Farmers, is government control and planning of inner-city land use. Government regimentation of land squeezes poor people economically; perhaps more importantly, it also keeps them permanently in hock to, and at the mercy of, a select handful of politically-connected developers and slumlords. Last week, Women of Color Blog (2007-11-09) alerted me to the latest example: HUD’s continuing refusal to let New Orleans public housing residents return to their old homes, even two years after the fact. All for their own good, of course, whether or not they happen to think that they are best off living as permanent refugees. The plan is to begin demolishing the homes, now forcibly kept vacant, in order to make room for government redistribution of the land to connected developers for the usual urban renewal projects.

A major human rights crisis exists in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. It is a crisis that denies the basic rights to life, equality under the law, and social equity to Black, Indigenous, migrant, and working class communities in the region. While this crisis was in existence long before Hurricane Katrina, the policies and actions of the US government and finance capital (i.e. banking, credit, insurance, and development industries) following the Hurricane have seriously exacerbated the crisis.

One of the clearest examples of this crisis is the denial of the right to housing in New Orleans, particularly in the public housing sector. Since the Hurricane, the US government through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has denied the vast majority of the residents of public housing the right to return to their homes. Unlike the vast majority of the housing stock in New Orleans, the majority of the public housing units received little to no flood or wind damage from the Hurricane. Yet, as of October 2007 only ¼ of the public housing units have been reopened and reoccupied. The Bush government refuses to reopen the public housing units in New Orleans because it appears intent on destroying the public housing system, demolishing the existing structures, and turning over the properties to private real-estate developers to make profits.

Based on the discriminatory Federal Court ruling issued on Monday, September 10th, all of the major public housing units in New Orleans are now subject to immediate demolition (the latest report from Monday, November 5th is that HUD will attempt to start the demolition on Monday, November 19th. However, this is being challenged by various legal advocates and will be delayed until at least Wednesday, November 28th pending a Federal court hearing). The first site on the schedule for demolition is the Lafitte housing project.

— My Private Casbah 2007-11-09: All Public Housing Units In New Orleans Set To Be Demolished

Now, I’m an anarchist. As such, I’m also intent — far more intent than George W. Bush could ever dream to be — on destroying the so-called public housing system. I hope to destroy it right along with the rest of the statist system of regimentation, rationing, command and control. But, the Department of Bulldozers’ opinions notwithstanding, destroying the system of control is not the same thing as knocking over the homes that the government controls. The hope is to liberate them and allow people to reclaim their lives from the domination of the State and the exploitation of state capitalism.

As far as these particular public housing units are concerned, the proper question to ask is, who rightfully owns the homes that are set to be demolished? In the eyes of the State legal system, that’s the Housing Authority of New Orleans, a quasi-governmental non-profit corporation substantially under the control of its patron, the federal government’s Department of Housing and Urban Development. But neither HANO nor any other creature of the State can be the rightful owner of this or any other property. States are nothing more than massive criminal enterprises; they have no land and no money except what they expropriate from others by force. Their claim to the Lafitte housing project, like all their other claims, is fraudulent, because piracy is not a legitimate means for acquiring title to anything.

So if not HANO, who are the rightful owners? Well, when property has been lost or abandoned, it rightfully belongs to those who find it and put it to use. In the case of New Orleans and its government housing projects, that means that the people who should rightfully be regarded as the owners are not HUD or HANO bureaucrats, but rather the current tenants. Each resident has gained a legitimate ownership interest in her home, and in the land that it is built on, in virtue of occupying and homesteading it. Radical libertarians should recognize, on free market principles, that the federal government’s interventionist efforts to lock poor people out of their own homes and pass the land along to the nearest professional slumlord for development should be regarded as nothing more or less than State-sponsored theft. Specifically, State-sponsored theft in the name of propping up the political-economic class system of landlordism.

The radical implications of the homesteading principle for urban housing extend far beyond New Orleans. In pretty much every major American city, there is a more or less permanent supply of vacant lots, burned-out plants, condemned buildings, and other land which has been held out of use for years, and will continue to be held out of use for years to come. Part of the reason that so much land remains idle is that formal title has often been seized by the city government or by quasi-governmental development corporations, through the use of eminent domain, and the lots are simply abandoned while they await government public works projects or developers willing to buy up the land for large-scale building. In a free market, vacant lots and abandoned buildings should be available for homesteading by anyone willing to do the work of occupying and using them — which emphatically includes poor people in search of housing, a place to set up shop, land to cultivate for food, or for whatever other use they can put it to. It is only government intervention on behalf of state capitalism that keeps these lots shuttered and keeps them locked up in the hands of government bureaucrats and real estate developers; without statism there would be no political process of expropriation, demolition, redistribution, and redevelopment. Free people would be able to establish property rights in abandoned land, and thus provide their own housing, free of landlords and bulldozers, through their own sweat equity.

It’s because of this that I’ve been following the Take Back the Land movement in Miami with a lot of interest and a lot of sympathy. Their first project, the Umoja Village shanty-town (1, 2), was as good an example as you could like of socializing the land through direct action. And now, Max Rameau writes that their new project is to Take Back the Housing:

October 23, 2007 marks one year since the rise of the Umoja Village Shantytown in the Liberty City section of Miami in response to the crisis of gentrification and low income housing. In the year since this “people power” action, much has changed and much more remains the same. Black and other poor communities are ravaged by the crisis of gentrification and low-income housing while the same government which extracts taxes from us, does nothing to alleviate the crisis. One year later, the issue of community control over land remains fundamental in solving the crisis.

As the real estate bubble explodes around us, vacant foreclosed homes litter our communities and speculators choose to hold onto vacant houses and apartments, waiting for the next market swing in order to make their millions. For it’s part, in spite of all the scandal and crisis, Miami-Dade County doggedly maintains an unconscionable and immoral stockpile of vacant public housing units, units which otherwise would shelter some of the 41,000 families languishing on the housing assistance waiting list.

All the while, the homeless population grows, particularly among the under-housed, those not living on the street, but doubling and tripling up in single family homes, including public housing, where the extra families live illegally, endangering the housing security of the entire extended family, sometimes right next door to a boarded up, vacant unit.

We are forced to conclude that Miami-Dade County intentionally leaves units vacant, or tears down public housing all together–exemplified by the HOPE VI funded Scott-Carver public housing project demolition–as a means of fueling the real estate boom. When governments take units of low-income housing off of the market, the value of the remaining privately held units increases, as families scramble to find new living arrangements. This is nothing short of tax financed market manipulation, designed to decrease supply at a time when demand is sky high, resulting in a government sponsored–not market driven–real estate boom.

… In spite of the crisis, scandal and controversy, the reality is that local governments continue to enrich wealthy developers and have intentionally failed to address this crisis in any meaningful way. Neither Miami-Dade County nor the federal government operates based on the interests of poor Black people. As such, we are left with no other option than to provide for the people for whom the government is not providing.

Take Back the Land, again, asserts the right of the Black community to control land in the Black community. In order to provide housing for people, not for profit, this community control over land must now take the form of direct community control over housing.

Consequently, Take Back the Land has initiated the process of moving families and individuals into vacant housing, whether public, foreclosed upon or privately owned and intentionally vacated.

As of this writing, several families have already been moved into housing and several more are desperately awaiting their turn. We will move families and individuals into vacant housing units all across Miami-Dade County.

— Take Back the Land 2007-10-24: Take Back the Housing

A true free market requires an end to what Benjamin Tucker rightly condemned as the land monopoly, and a radical application of the homestead principle, which means that an awful lot of squatter’s rights can and should be recognized as the basis of a just claim to the land. While I disagree with Tucker on some of the specifics of rightful land ownership — for example, I don’t think that rental contracts necessarily constitute abandonment of land — I do agree that absentee landlordism is artificially propped up by a pervasive and unjust system of government intervention on behalf of the rentier class. Abandoned land rightfully belongs to those who can reclaim it through occupancy and use. So three cheers from this libertarian to Take Back the Land, and here’s hoping that counter-economic urban homesteading will spread — throughout Miami, onward to New Orleans, and throughout every housing market currently clutched in the talons of land monopoly and state capitalism.

Further reading:

Public schooling

One of the worst things about so-called public education, i.e. government-controlled schooling, is that students are forced into an institution that they consistently find unpleasant and boring, whether or not the individual student thinks that it’s worth the trouble. That fact, combined with the fact that the victims are all young and many of them are poor or black or otherwise marked as at-risk youth in need of special surveillance and control, naturally and systematically corrupts the way that the school relates to its students. It leads administrators and political decision-makers to focus on restraining the unruly behavior of the coerced students, by making authority, control, security, and discipline top priorities. In practice this means monitoring, intimidation, and coercion. These facts in turn result in attitudes and institutional practices throughout State schools that are often hard to distinguish from those prevailing in a prison camp.

Here are three stories that have come out, just over the course of the past week, about the practices of administrators and uniformed thugs in American public schools. In particular, they are about three separate cases in which one or the other set out to maintain control over their school by physically brutalizing or sexually humiliating young women.

The first case, from Arizona, happened four years ago. It’s in the news today because the famously liberal Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of appeals recently ruled that Safford Middle School officials were within the bounds of their legitimate authority when they forced a strip-search on a 13 year old girl — because a couple of student snitches claimed that she had some unauthorized ibuprofen on her, and the Authorities had to know for sure:

Safford Middle School officials did not violate the civil rights of a 13-year-old Safford girl when they forced her to disrobe and expose her breasts and pubic area four years ago while looking for a drug, according to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.

The justices voted 2-1 in favor of the Safford School District on Sept. 21. The decision upheld a federal district court’s summary judgement that Safford Middle School Vice Principal Kerry Wilson, school nurse Peggy Schwallier and administrative assistant Helen Romero did not violate the girl’s Fourth Amendment rights on Oct. 8, 2003, when they subjected her to a strip search in an effort to find Ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory drug sold over the counter and in prescription strengths.

The girl’s mother filed a federal law suit against the district and Middle School officials because they forced her daughter to strip down to her underwear then move her bra and panties in such a way that her breasts and pubic area were exposed. The mother also asserts that she was not notified of the impending search.

In the opinion written by Judge Richard Clifton, Based on the information available to them, defendants (Safford School District, Wilson, Schwallier and Romero) had reasonable grounds for suspecting that the search of (the girl’s) person would turn up evidence that (the girl) had violated or was violating either the law or the rules of the school.

Clifton wrote that Wilson and the others had reasonable grounds for believing the girl had Ibuprofen based on conversations with two other students.

The other students said the girl possessed Ibuprofen and had distributed the drug to others, according to the court report.

— Diane Saunders, Eastern Arizona Courier (2007-09-26): Court rules school officials acted properly in strip search

The second case is from New York, where — in order to enforce a blanket no-bags policy putatively adopted for the students own health and safety — a member of the school goon squad decided that it was O.K. for him, an adult male ex-cop, to pull 14 year old girls carrying purses out of class and interrogate them about their menstrual cycles:

Grahamsville — Several television news crews from New York City are camped outside the Tri-Valley Central School following the story in today’s Times Herald-Record about what question a school security guard asked a 14-year-old female student.

The girl was called out of class by a security guard during a school sweep last week to make sure no kids had backpacks or other banned bags.

Samantha Martin had a small purse with her that day.

That’s why the security guard, ex-Monticello cop Mike Bunce, asked her The Question.

She says he told her she couldn’t have a purse unless she had her period. Then he asked, Do you have your period?

Samantha was mortified.

She says she thought, Oh, my God. Get away from me. But instead of answering, she just walked back into class.

At home, she cried, and told her mother what happened.

It appears that at least a few other girls were also asked the same question.

On Sept. 21, Martin and other girls were called to the office of Principal Robert Worden. Lisa Raymond, the assistant superintendent for business, was also there, Martin said.

They just asked me what he (Bunce) said. I told them, and they said thanks for coming, she said.

The small Sullivan County school has been in an uproar for the last week. Girls have worn tampons on their clothes in protest, and purses made out of tampon boxes. Some boys wore maxi-pads stuck to their shirts in support.

After hearing that someone might have been suspended for the protest, freshman Hannah Lindquist, 14, went to talk to Worden. She wore her protest necklace, an OB tampon box on a piece of yarn. She said Worden confiscated it, talked to her about the code of conduct and the backpack rule — and told her she was now part of the problem.

Tri-Valley Superintendent Nancy George, who has refused to meet with any reporters today, yestedar said that when Worden, Bunce and another staffer did the bag check, they were telling students to put the bags in their lockers. The administration is investigating whether they said anything more to some girls.

I have had some parents talk to me personally, and they gave me the names of some students who were asked, she said. We’re certainly not going to make light of this. It’s a very sensitive issue, but it needs to be handled. Parents with more information should call her directly, she added.

Raymond and Worden failed to return calls yesterday for comment. Bunce was not working yesterday, and his home phone number is unlisted.

Bunce was forced to retire from the Monticello Police Department in 2002 after he and the former chief were caught running their process-serving business on village time.

School board President Lori Mickelson declined comment.

The school banned backpacks in the halls this year for two reasons, George said: Student health, because heavy bags could hurt the kids’ backs or people could trip on them; and for security concerns, felt nationwide, about concealed weapons.

— Heather Yakin, Times Herald-Record (2007-09-28): The Question’ causes furor at local high school

Clearly the Authorities concerns about small purses and their contribution teenagers’ back problems outweigh minor considerations like the dignity and sexual privacy of 14 year old girls.

The third case comes from Palmdale, California, near Los Angeles, where a member of the school goon squad slammed Pleajhai Mervin, a young black woman at Knight High School, down on a table, twisted her arm behind her back, and broke her wrist — after she refused to follow his bellowed orders to make a fourth try at cleaning up the last bits of a slice of cake that she had accidentally spilled on the lunchroom floor. According to Mervin, the uniformed thug yelled hold still nappy head at her during the course of the attack. The fifteen-year-old young woman was then ticketed for littering, expelled from school, and arrested for battery against the beefy uniformed security thug who was breaking her wrist while other security goons hovered around. Two other black students — a 14 year old boy and his 16 year old sister — were tackled, held down, shoved around, handcuffed, and arrested for daring to film what was going on using their cell phone cameras.

School security guards in Palmdale, CA have been caught on camera assaulting a 16-year-old girl and breaking her arm after she spilled some cake during lunch and left some crumbs on the floor after cleaning it up.

… The girl, Pleajhai Mervin, told Fox News LA that she was bumped while queuing for lunch and dropped the cake. After being ordered to clean it up and then re-clean the spot three times, she attempted to leave the area out of embarrassment but was jumped on by security who forced her onto a table, breaking her wrist in the process.

Steve Watson, InfoWars (2007-09-28): School Guards Break Child’s Arm And Arrest Her For Dropping Cake

Mervin says a security guard slammed her against a table at a lunchroom at the high school and twisted her arms behind her back so violently, he broke her wrist. Her wrist is in a cast.

He put my arm behind my back and he started raising it until it hurt, so I told him, Stop, it hurts. He had slammed me on the table and told me to hold still. He called me a nappy-head, and that’s when I just started crying, said Mervin.

Mervin claims she was roughed up simply because she failed to pick up every crumb of a birthday cake she accidentally dropped on the floor of the lunchroom during a lunch-hour birthday celebration for a friend. She says she thought she cleaned up the mess, but the security guard thought otherwise.

He said, You have to come pick the rest of this cake up. So I said, I picked it up. He gets on his walkie-talkie, he got a call, so I just started walking to class, and that’s when he grabbed me, said Mervin.

Mervin says when the security guard realized he was being videotaped, he tackled the student shooting the video. She says another student captured photographs of that incident. She says the whole incident was unnecessary.

Leo Stallworth, KABC Los Angeles (2007-09-26): High School Security Guards Accused of Excessive Force

One security guard twisted the arm of 16-year-old Pleajhai Mervin behind her back and slammed her against a lunch table, fracturing her wrist, parents said.

I want justice, said Mervin’s mother, Latrisha Majors, who also was arrested. I want justice for my daughter. I want the guards to be held accountable for their actions.

Majors and her daughter were arrested in the Sept. 18 lunchtime incident, along with Joshua Lockett, 14, who videotaped the fight, and his sister, Kenngela Lockett, 16, who also suffered a fractured wrist.

Both Mervin and Kenngela Lockett attended the protest with their arms in slings.

Joshua Lockett, who was on probation for robbery, remained in juvenile custody on suspicion of violating his probation, sheriff’s deputies said.

We come to get an education, not to be hurt by security guards, said Kenngela, who said she tried to pull guards off her brother and was hurt while being handcuffed.

One guard, whose name has not been publicly released, has been placed on leave with pay pending an investigation by the Antelope Valley Union High School District. Attempts to reach the guard were not successful.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies said the guard told them he felt threatened by Mervin.

There was resistance by her, Sgt. Darrel Brown said. He went to control her.

— Karen Maeshiro, LA Daily News (2007-09-29): Rally protests security guard acts.

Mainstream media sources such as the Los Angeles Times, KABC in Los Angeles, KSN (a local NBC affiliate), and the LA Daily News have repeatedly described what happened as a tussle … between a security guard and three students, as a scuffle with security guards, a melee with security guards, mayhem, etc. This apparently is what passes for accurate description of a professional uniformed security goon battering two high school girls and a fourteen-year-old boy, while he’s backed up by another security goon hovering around the area and clearly outweighs all of his victims. You can watch part of Joshua Lockett’s video of the scuffle at MyFox Los Angeles (2007-09-26) and MyFox Los Angeles (2007-09-28).

Oh No A WoC PhD (2007-09-30) has a YouTube montage of more photos and videos from this so-called melee, and also the contact information for school and city officials.

(Stories thanks to feministing 2007-10-01, Women of Color Blog 2007-09-30, Oh No a WoC PhD 2007-09-30, The Superfluous Man 2007-09-28, Radley Balko 2007-09-28, feministing 2007-09-28, and Majikthise 2007-09-28.)

State schooling, institutional racism, blanket zero-tolerance policies, and increasing police and security presence in schools have ensured that many if not most American schools are no longer primarily places of learning. They are guarded institutions whose primary focus is on command and control.

Further reading:

Law and Orders: UCLA campus police “found it necessary” to repeatedly taser an Iranian student already lying helpless on the ground

Cops in America are heavily armed and trained to be bullies, and they routinely hurt people who are not posing any serious threat to anyone, in order to make sure that they stay in control of the situation. They have no trouble electrifying small children, alleged salad-bar thieves; or pregnant women possibly guilty of a minor traffic violation, if they get tired enough of being talked back to and if their bellowed orders are no longer sufficient to end an argument–even without any plausible reason whatsoever for fearing any physical threat to themselves or others. When they are caught in the act police administrators will wring their hands, make up some lies to try to excuse the assault, promise an investigation, find that Official Procedures were followed, and then do nothing at all, except perhaps question the decision to arm the pigs with tasers (as if the equipment were the issue here). This is a cellphone video of what happened to UCLA student Mostafa Tabatabainejad when he refused to show identification to campus police and then demanded that they not touch him while he left the library.

(Link and story via Brian Doherty @ Reason Hit and Run 2006-11-16.)

Here is the story from The Los Angeles Times:

The latest in a recent spate of cellphone videos documenting questionable arrest tactics surfaced Wednesday, this one showing a UCLA police officer using a Taser to stun a student who allegedly refused to leave the campus library.

Grainy video of the Tuesday night incident at UCLA’s Powell Library was broadcast Wednesday on TV news and the Internet, prompting a review of the officers’ actions and outrage among students at the Westwood campus.

The footage showed the student, Mostafa Tabatabainejad, falling to the ground and crying out in pain as officers stunned him.

According to a campus police report, the incident began when community service officers, who serve as guards at the library, began their nightly routine of checking to make sure everyone using the library after 11 p.m. is a student or otherwise authorized to be there.

Campus officials said the long-standing policy was adopted to ensure students’ safety.

When Tabatabainejad, 23, refused to provide his ID to the community service officer, the officer told him he would have to show it or leave the library, the report said.

After repeated requests, the officer left and returned with campus police, who asked Tabatabainejad to leave multiple times, according to a statement by the UCLA Police Department.

He continued to refuse, the statement said. As the officers attempted to escort him out, he went limp and continued to refuse to cooperate with officers or leave the building.

Witnesses disputed that account, saying that when campus police arrived, Tabatabainejad had begun to walk toward the door with his backpack. When an officer approached him and grabbed his arm, the witnesses said, Tabatabainejad told the officer to let go, yelling Get off me several times.

Tabatabainejad encouraged library patrons to join his resistance, police said. The officers deemed it necessary to use the Taser.

Officers stunned Tabatabainejad, causing him to fall to the floor.

The video shows Tabatabainejad yelling, Here’s your Patriot Act, here’s your … abuse of power, the Daily Bruin reported, adding he used a profanity.

It was beyond grotesque, said UCLA graduate David Remesnitsky of Los Angeles, who witnessed the incident. By the end they took him over the stairs, lifted him up and Tasered him on his rear end. It seemed like it was inappropriately placed. The Tasering was so unnecessary and they just kept doing it.

Campus police confirmed that Tabatabainejad was stunned multiple times.

By then, Remesnitsky said, a crowd of 50 or 60 had gathered and were shouting at the officers to stop and demanding their names and badge numbers.

Remesnitsky said officers told him to leave or he would be Tasered.

Tabatabainejad declined to comment. He was arrested Tuesday night and cited by campus police for resisting and obstructing a police officer and was released.

The incident was the third videotape of an arrest to surface in the last week in Los Angeles.

One video showed a Los Angeles Police Department officer dousing a handcuffed suspect in the face with pepper spray as the suspect sat in a patrol car.

That video came to light Monday, just days after the LAPD and the FBI launched investigations into another videotape showing a police officer hitting a suspect in the face several times after a foot chase in Hollywood.

UCLA Assistant Police Chief Jeff Young said Wednesday that he had viewed the video of the campus incident on the Internet and would view any other videos that were shot.

We will gather as many samples as we can find, from different sources, Young said. We’ll use it for our own administrative investigation.

— Amanda Covarrubias and Stuart Silverstein, Los Angeles Times (2006-11-16): A third incident, a new video

Here is the campus police’s military necessity justification for repeatedly electrifying an unarmed man already lying on the ground and offering no physical resistance, let alone physical threat, to the armed and uniformed gang of peace officers surrounding him:

Tabatabainejab encouraged library patrons to join his resistance. A crowd gathering around the officers and Tabatebainejad’s continued resistance made it urgent to remove Tabatabainejad from the area. The officers deemed it necessary to use the Taser in a drive stun capacity.

— University of California Police Department (2006-11-15): Powell Library Incident

The Powell Library is university property, and authorized agents of the university have every right to force out someone who does not use the library according to the policies set by the university. What they have no right to do is to carry out those aims by repeatedly using powerful electric shocks to immobilize a helpless man with pain, over and over again, when he is already lying on the ground, solely in order to keep control of the situation or to ensure students’ safety when the students themselves feel far more threatened by the belligerent and violent police. Whether or not they found it necessary to torture Tabatabainejab with electric shocks in order to accomplish those things is quite irrelevant. As Edmund Burke once wrote,

To prove, that these Sort of policed Societies are a Violation offered to Nature, and a Constraint upon the human Mind, it needs only to look upon the sanguinary Measures, and Instruments of Violence which are every where used to support them. Let us take a Review of the Dungeons, Whips, Chains, Racks, Gibbets, with which every Society is abundantly stored, by which hundreds of Victims are annually offered up to support a dozen or two in Pride and Madness, and Millions in an abject Servitude, and Dependence. There was a Time, when I looked with a reverential Awe on these Mysteries of Policy; but Age, Experience, and Philosophy have rent the Veil; and I view this Sanctum Sanctorum, at least, without any enthusiastick Admiration. I acknowledge indeed, the Necessity of such a Proceeding in such Institutions; but I must have a very mean Opinion of Institutions where such Proceedings are necessary.

— Edmund Burke (1757): Vindication of Natural Society

There are three things about the video that are just terrible to watch and to hear. The first is the obvious one: Tabatabainejad screaming in pain and writhing on the floor as cops assault him again and again. But the second is just as awful: the crowd of 50 or 60 students, outraged at the police’s ongoing assault, and doing nothing about it other than yelling at the cops and indignantly demanding their badge numbers–apparently in the fantastical belief that a The Law is somehow going to protect them from violence at the hands of its own rampaging hired goons. The third are the comments from the bare-fanged sadists who inevitably came along, as they come along in every case like this one, to add remarks like this:

if you don’t cooperate you get tazed. it’s very simple to understand.

— trappednAZ, in replies to YouTube (2006-11-16): UCLA Student Tasered by UCLA Police for not showing ID

Or this:

I have a medical condition! Hahaha, so good. Damn that was funny. If you don’t wanna get tasered, then don’t a dick to the police. They’re just doing their job.

— symonwill, in replies to YouTube (2006-11-16): UCLA Student Tasered by UCLA Police for not showing ID

Or this:

This is why you dont scream like a 5 year old at police when they tell you to do something. The guy wouldnt comply with anything the police were saying. He deserved it. This shouldnt even be an issue.

— c17h25n, in replies to YouTube (2006-11-16): UCLA Student Tasered by UCLA Police for not showing ID

Did you know that if a college student has a bad attitude towards armed strangers giving him orders, that justifies the cops using violence, up to and including hitting him with immobilizing electric shocks, over and over again, while he lies on the ground, in response? Apparently in the world of authoritarian creeps and bureaucratic sociopaths, it does.

Further reading: