Update on Anti-Union Brutality in Houston

Maybe they won’t beat us in prison if they think we’re white, not Latino
I was going to update this post about the Houston police who used horses to break up a peaceful union demonstration. But the way the police treated the union members once in custody is so awful, it deserves its own post. According to Texas organizer, Anna Denise Solis (italics mine):

We sat down in the intersection and the horses came immediately. It was really violent. They arrested us, and when we got to jail, we were pretty beat up. Not all of us got the medical attention we needed. The worst was a protester named Julia, who is severely diabetic. We kept telling the guards about her condition but they only gave her a piece of candy. During roll call, she started to complain about light-headedness. Finally she just collapsed unconscious on the floor. It was like she just dropped dead. The guard saw it but just kept going through the roll. Susan ran over there and took her pulse while the other inmates were yelling for help, saying we need to call somebody. The medical team strolled over, taking their own sweet time. She was unconscious for like 4 or 5 minutes.
They really tried to break us down. The first night they put the temperature so high that a woman–one of the other inmates–had a seizure. The second night they made it freezing and took away many of our blankets. We didn’t have access to the cots so we had to sleep on a concrete floor. When we would finally fall asleep the guards would come and yell ‘Are you Anna Denise Solís? Are you so and so?’ One of the protesters had a fractured wrist from the horses. She had a cast on and when she would fall asleep the guard would kick the cast to wake her up. She was in a lot of pain.
The guards would tell us: ‘This is what you get for protesting.’ One of them said, ‘Who gives a shit about janitors making 5 dollars an hour? Lots of people make that much.’ The other inmates–there were a lot of prostitutes in there–said that they had never seen the jail this bad. The guards told them: ‘We’re trying to teach the protesters a lesson.’ Nobody was getting out of jail because the processing was so slow. They would tell the prostitutes that everything is the protesters’ fault. They were trying to turn everybody against each other.
I felt like I was in some Third World jail, not in America. One of the guards called us ‘whores’ and if we talked back, we didn’t get any lunch. We didn’t even have the basic necessities. It felt like a police state, like marshal law, nobody had rights. Some of us had been arrested in other cities, and it was never this bad before.
They tried to break us down, to dehumanize us. But we were stronger….We showed them that we weren’t afraid. We did it all together. Now we’re ready to fight on for basic American rights like the freedom of speech and the right to protest.

Three Four points need to be made here:

1) changing the room temperature and hitting injured prisoners: isn’t that what we do to terrorists in Gitmo? These are janitors, not Al-Queda.
2) To the cop who said, “Who gives a shit about janitors making 5 dollars an hour? Lots of people make that much”, here’s a reminder of how America is supposed to work. If you have certain economic opinions, you can: write letters, start a blog, lobby, run for office, and peacefully protest. You do not get to brutalize prisoners. That’s not how America is supposed to work. Little despots with tin badges.
3) Why do the police hate the strikers so much? The police have their own union that negotiates contracts. The evil part of me wants them to experience the same damn thing when they have to renegotiate their contact.
4) To let a diabetic collapse sounds like what is commonly called an “insulin reaction”–too much insulin and not enough glucose. As someone who has personally witnessed insulin reactions several times, to let it progress to the point physical collapse means that oxygen starvation of the brain is not far behind (usually incoherence and combativeness are the first symptoms).

Remember: if janitors earn $7/hour and receive healthcare, then the terrorists win.
Update: Amanda and Lindsay have more.

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22 Responses to Update on Anti-Union Brutality in Houston

  1. The Ridger says:

    And you know why they were in there for so long? Bail was set at $888,888 apiece – there are accused murderers free on bail of $30,000. Link to Houston Chronicle story

  2. qetzal says:

    Ridger – that’s a press release, not a Chronicle story.
    Which doesn’t mean, of course, that the quoted bail numbers or other allegations are untrue. But it seems clear from the language that the press release was written by someone biased in favor of the SEIU: “Last fall, 5,300 Houston janitors made the historic choice to form a union with SEIU….”
    It would be nice to see a link to nominally unbiased source that backs up these statements.

  3. Recently, a fabulously wealthy NYC lawyer charged with rape in Georgia was released on only $250,000 bail.
    Qetzal, those numbers are matters of public record. The SEIU is not going to fabricate numbers about the bail set for their supporters, or the union vote. That would just be handing ammunition to their adversaries.

  4. If anyone happens to know the full name and exact birth date of any of the people arrested, it is possible to independently confirm the bond set for them by calling any of the many fine bail bondspersons in Texas.
    The advantage of calling the bail bond services is that many are open 24/7.
    The strikers were arrested in Harris County, so if you want to call the DA’s office on Monday, they might be willing to confirm the bail bond figures without the specific names and birth dates.

  5. clarke says:

    No, qetzal’s right. I distrust anyone with such a blatant anti-innocent-people-getting-the-living-crap-beaten-out-of-them bias, and I demand their views be balanced with those of someone on the other side, for fairness’s sake.

  6. fishbane says:

    Well, here’s another baseline for bail: a domestic terrorist who mailed fake anthrax and threats to several high profile people is out on $350,000 bail.

  7. qetzal says:

    clarke, I’m not asking for views from “the other side.” I would like to see a nominally independent account of the situation.
    Before posting, I searched for reported stories at The Chronicle, as well as at three Houston network affiliates – KTRK, KHOU, and KPRC. There were stories about the arrests, but nothing about the $800K+ bail or the alleged abuses at the jail.
    Once again – I’m not claiming it’s wrong. As Lindsay Beyerstein said, it would make no sense for SEIU to deliberately fabricate bail figures that can be easily checked.
    At the same time, I’m not prepared to accept all the claims at face value either. Not based on a press release put out by SEIU.

  8. Joshua says:

    “Little despots with tin badges.”
    Jesus, it’s that song again! Just can’t get it out of my head…

  9. PDiddie says:

    The good news is that a magistrate judge reduced the bonds to $,000 per person.
    The bad news is we’re still under the boot heel of the Neo-Fascists here in Houston. And don’t forget, we always export the worst ones to Washington.
    Help. Us. Please.

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