Carol Fisher, the 53-year-old peace activist who was ordered to submit to psychiatric testing for posting anti-Bush, anti-war posters, was sentenced to 60 days in jail and two years probation at her sentencing hearing on Friday. Fisher stayed strong and true to the end, appearing at her hearing in an anti-Bush t-shirt and refusing the judge’s orders to remove it during an angrily- and hastily-called recess for that purpose. Three of Fisher’s supporters were removed from the courtroom for making political statements or exclamations. Fisher was found guilty in April of assaulting two patrolmen. Ordered by the judge to apologize to the police officers at her sentencing, she refused.
Following is Fisher’s account of the events of the day she was arrested:
“I had set out from my house with a full agenda, to contact lots of people and get out materials about our upcoming Cleveland event to Drown Out the State of the Union address, and the call to march around the White House on Feb. 4th. My first stop was in an area known for its community of artists and progressives, where I stapled up posters for blocks and was greeted warmly by those who saw and appreciated what World Can’t Wait is doing. I talked to an artist and a Palestinian store owner who took fliers to distribute to customers.
“Next stop, to the east side. I drove down a street in Cleveland Heights, another area known for its diversity and progressive history. This street was badly in need of postering too and though I was in a big hurry, I couldn’t drive on without getting up a few signs. Before long a cop called from across the street: ‘Ma’am! Hundred dollar fine for doing that!’ Oh really, since when? Another way of keeping us from getting the word out, eh?
“But not wanting to get arrested, I said okay and put up my staple gun and walked away. But that wasn’t the end of it. ‘Ma’am! Hundred dollar fine unless you take those posters down.’ He is pursuing me across the street. Damn! OK fine, I say, I will take them down (not wanting to get into a confrontation, because I have lots to do today!) But this, too, is not enough for the cop. He wants my ID. I say I don’t have my ID. He grabs my arm. I say let go of me, I am not doing anything wrong, I will take the posters down. People are watching to see what happens, are outraged but very afraid. The cop won’t let go, he clearly wants more grief from me, and he is in the spotlight. He wants people to be scared. He pushes me against a store window, and next thing I know I am face down on the sidewalk with two cops on top of me, one with his knee in my back. I am trying to call out to people, to tell them what the posters are about.
“They keep pushing my face into the sidewalk. I can’t breathe. I have osteoradionecrosis in my jaw, resulting from radiation treatments for cancer. My jawbone is slowly deteriorating, is very fragile, and doesn’t heal well. I am 53 years old, not exactly a spring chicken. A hand comes down again to push my chin against the concrete.
“By this time there are four cops on the scene. My hands are tightly cuffed behind my back. They lift me up and shove me onto a park bench and shackle my legs. I am still calling out, telling people what this is about. One of the cops says to me, ‘Shut up or I will kill you!’, and ‘I am sick of this anti-Bush shit!’ ‘You are definitely going to the psych ward.’ Then somebody calls the EMS, and a fire squad shows up.
“The cop supervisor appears and puts his finger in my face: ‘I don’t like it when people treat my men like this and if you don’t obey the law you will suffer the consequences.’ I am lifted into the EMS truck, hands still cuffed behind my back. I ask to make a call and this is refused, but a fireman offers to make a quick call for me. If not for this, no one would have known where I was or what was happening, a fate shared by many immigrants in this country. At the hospital, I am treated as an arch-criminal. Escorted by four policemen, I shuffle into the emergency room, legs still shackled, covered with leaves and mud. I think to myself, if I was Black, I would not have made it this far. I would probably be dead by now.”
Fisher’s attorney says Fisher will appeal.
I think Fisher’s account of these events has the distinct ring of truth about it. This is how the cops treat people. This is exactly what they do. My son — the one I wrote about in my other blog who has been brutalized by police several times — and I were discussing this last night. He says he was watching a carload of four cops who stopped by a convenience store in Los Angeles, went in, got some freeze-pops, and were clowning around as they got back in the car. My son was saying, “The hell. These are just regular guys who go to school for nine months. That’s it. They come out and they start abusing people, mistreating people. Nine times out of 10 they are the criminals, not the people they abuse.” This is so true. The state, after nine months of training, puts guns into these guys’ hands, night sticks, tasers, as well, and gives them the power to abuse, in large part in order to fill the coffers of local and state governments with money stolen from the poor, the marginalized, the disenfranchised. I’ll tell you what, the cops wouldn’t treat a white man in a business suit the way Carol Fisher was treated– not on your life. It would not happen.