Friday, October 26, 2007

Update on Liz's condition

Thought I should update you all per Liz's condition. Received this email this morning from the Phoenix CODEPINK Coordinator.
Yesterday, Liz was released from jail after 30 hours, despite the vice-chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee calling the Capitol Police several times to request her release. While she was in quite a bit of pain, she was never actually hospitalized because she wanted to stay with the other people who had been arrested. She was charged with resisting arrest although, as you can see from the videos, it would have been difficult for her to willfully resist arrest. Her glasses were broken, she has at least one black eye and cuts on her face, and she feels generally battered, but she's well and back at the Code Pink house.

You can see a series of video clips on .
From my take on what happened, and you can see that she wasn't doing anything and was sitting when the attack began - she was also being exceptionally quiet as as she'd been informed that if she so much as burped in the hearing that she would be arrested. The cops grabbed her from either side, were in fact, pulling her in two directions and slamming her face into the chairs in the row in front of where she was seated. This was an unprovoked attack on her that resulted in serious bodily injury. She was at no time in any condition to even attempt to resist arrest. The charge is totally bogus. Furthermore the refusal of the Capitol Hill police to release the CODEPINK five after direct instructions from the Committee heads -- who are supposed to be entirely in charge of what is happening in their hearings is outrageous. None of the seated CODEPINKers showed disrespect to Congress or even the War Criminal Rice; it was the police who expressed their contempt of Congress.

A friend reports, "Captain Mark Sullivan, perhaps on a signal from the Secret Service, brutally yanked Liz out of her seat and dragged her down the row. At one point, one officer had her feet and another had her arms and they were pulling her in opposite directions, banging her face on a chair leg."

We Arizonans need to contact Gabrielle Giffords and Jeff Flake, both members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee,non-Arizonans can contact other members of the Committee, and urge them to issue a statement of apology to the seated CODEPINKers who were brutalized by these police captains and to request formal reprimand of officers Captains Gerber and Sullivan.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Phoenix CODEPINKER Kept in D.C. Jail Overnight

UPDATE on Liz's condition (from a Phoenix friend):
"I just got off the phone with Dana in Washington. She says that she's heard that Liz is fine, although the Capitol Police broke her glasses and her head was cut in the scuffle. She apparently did not go to the hospital. She, Medea, and Lori will see a judge today at 1:00 eastern time to see what happens next. I'm not sure when Desiree (the woman with the red hands) will be released or what she's going to have to go through. I think it's significant that the vice-chair for the House Foreign Relations Committee called the Capitol Police to say that the committee's policy is to only escort activists out and not to arrest them. The vice-chair asked for their prompt release, but everyone was kept over night. I'm guessing that the Capitol Police are now just the strong arm of the administration."
What a lot of people don't realize is that law inside the Capitol, especially when a hearing is in session, is a bit different from what people might presume it to be. The chair of the session has authority over his or her hearing room. For me, this is the most deeply disturbing aspect of yesterday's arrests. From what I can tell from out here in the western U.S.A., the Vice Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee asked the police to immediately release those arrested and act according to the known policy of that committee. The police knew this policy and should have honored the law. Furthermore, once the will of the Committee Chairwas iterated, those arrested without provocation should have been immediately released. They were kept in jail overnight.

Desiree knew, I'm sure, what the consequences of confronting Rice might be. She is an extremely intelligent woman. She was also careful not to touch Rice and to keep her hands clearly visible. Plus these cops know these women. They know that these are not violent women. The psychological profiles I'm sure they have done must show this or they wouldn't have been allowed into hearings on an almost daily basis for the last couple of years.

The wonderful thing about CODEPINK is that it values the individual and nothing is "policy written in stone" other than those necessary for 501c3 status. Those pink women sitting in the "audience"/gallery did nothing wrong. The police acted in defiance of known Congressional authority. And they did this repeatedly. If the police are no longer respecting the laws of the land and the procedures of the leaders on The Hill, we are in watching a slow motion military/police cout d'etat.

Call/write/contact your Congresspersons and let them know you are outraged by this flagrant police abuse of the law and disrespect of Congress.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Liz Hourican, from Phoenix, roughed up and arrested by Capitol Hill police

, Liz Hourican of Phoenix was assaulted and injured by Capitol Hill Police today when the police defied the policy of the House Foreign Relations Committee to escort Citizen Protesters from the room without arrest if they are nonviolently disruptive vocally or written signs.

The blood of millions of Iraqis is on your hands!” yelled Desiree Fairooz to Condi Rice during the hearing and displayed her hands covered in red paint simulating blood.
She was escorted from the room. Four women and one man ended up being arrested. Fairooz was arrested. Then two women who were sitting quietly in the hearing room were forcibly dragged from the room into the hall where they, who had engaged in no provocation, were brutally treated by the police. One of the women, Liz Hourican, had to be take to the hospital. Lori Perdue was also inexplicably dragged from the room and arrested. Medea Benjamin who had no written signs and who had not said anything in the hearing room was asked to leave when she made a peace sign with two fingers, She gathered her stuff and left the room. She was then arrested in the hall as was a gentleman who was vocally challenging the actions of the police as they happened.

You can watch the videos and judge for yourself.

Later in the day the press was given the following information in a statement from Dana, a CODEPINK spokesperson:

"Liz Hourican is now being treated at a local hospital for her injuries. The Deputy Chief of Staff of the House Foreign Relations Committee contacted the Capitol Police later in the day to again relay that their is a policy of that committee to not arrest Citizen protesters but to instead escort them out of the room. The Deputy asked for the CODEPINK members to be released promptly from custody.

For more information please contact Dana Balicki at 202 422 8624 or Gael Murphy at 202 412 6700."
I know Liz. She is a sincere, peaceful person, active in Arizona and Phoenix politics and an incredibly patriotic person who takes her duties and responsibilities as a citizen very seriously. She also is one of the least wimpy folks I know. To hear her crying in pain is horrible enough but to hear the despair in her voice when she is saying "I didn't do anything" is equally as painful for me as I know she believes in justice and truly was aghast at the abuse of justice by the police.

I haven't yet heard how Liz is doing or if she is out of the hospital. I will post again when I find out more.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Cops out of control in case you needed any more evidence

Thanks to the Sonoran Progressives for making me aware of this gross abuse of power by out of control Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpio. Seems the owners of the Phoenix New Times, a weekly newspaper, were arrested yesterday on charges of revealing Grand Jury information. The New Times, a Village Voice company, has had its executives, reporters and names of readers subpoened by a special prosecutor. The special prosecutor was appointed to see if the newspaper violated the law when they published the home address of Sheriff Joe Arpaio three yeares ago. A sheriff's department spokesperson refused comment on the subpoena, saying that Arpaio is a "crime victim."

Hmmmm.... Woman dies in Phoenix airport within minutes of being "taken down" by airport security staff. Sheriff arrests persons named in grand jury probe centered on info about the sheriff. None of that would make me want to travel to Phoenix or spend one second there that I didn't have to. Do I need to say that this city is also the home of Hell-bent Hawk John McCain and Bush administration apologist and right hand boy Jon Kyl.

If anyone doubted that Phoenix was a hell-hole, this should get them on the path to changing their minds.

And if anyone doubts that police are way out of control in this country, along with our purported "leaders," these stories of high level abuse of power parallel and encourage the street level abuse of the citizens of this country.

Read more here about the Phoenix abuse of the legal system in the New Times case:

Warning: You'll be part of the subpoena if you read the New Times online.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Shame in Tucson

Louis Vitale, 75, a Franciscan priest, and Steve Kelly, 58, a Jesuit priest, were each sentenced on Wednesday, October 17th to five months in federal prison. Their crime? Attempting to deliver a letter opposing the teaching of torture at Fort Huachuca in Arizona. The priests are now in prison.

Common Dreams describes the offense thusly:

The priests were arrested while kneeling in prayer halfway up the driveway to Fort Huachuca in November 2006. Both priests were charged with trespass on a military base and resisting orders of an officer to stop.

In a pre-trial heating, the priests attempted to introduce evidence of torture, murder, and gross violations of human rights in Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib in Iraq, and at Guantanamo. The priests offered investigative reports from the FBI, the US Army, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Physicians for Social Responsibility documenting hundreds of incidents of human rights violations. Despite increasing evidence of the use of torture by U.S. forces sanctioned by President Bush and others, the federal court in Tucson refused to allow any evidence of torture, the legality of the invasion of Iraq, or international law to be a part of the trial.

Demonstrations against the teaching of torture at Fort Huachuca are scheduled for November 16 and 17 this year.

Despite the Disney-esque image that comes to mind with use of the Fort's nickname, "Fort Sneezy," the real nature of what goes on there is far more sinister. Fort Huachuca is Army Intelligence HQ. Oxymoronic but still dangerous.

In Friar Kelly's words, "“We will keep trying to stop the teaching and practice of torture whether we are sent to jail or out. We have done our part for now. Now it is up to every woman and man of conscience to do their part to stop the injustice of torture.”

Every man and woman... that's us folks. Shall we begin?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Reason for Hope, Reason for Despair

Al Gore wins Nobel Peace Prize. Hope.

World ice caps gone in 23 years. Despair.

Torture as a routine American practice. Despair.

Mainstream TV covering the topic of U.S. Government-sanctioned torture on prime time, network TV show "Without A Trace," Thursday October 11, 2007. The information divulged under torture was useless. Hope.

Creating and engaging in a reasonable and ethical life amidst the volatility and utter unbalance of lives set in this world that seem to be caught in a vortex of destruction requires a focus on calmness and peace that is difficult to maintain. But we have to keep on trying. Everything is generational and continuous. The illusion of individual as a significant element is what gets us in trouble. We are but a sputter in a candle. Light is the the process, the essence. We must acknowledge the difficulties, the despair, but we must move on and continue to attempt to create beauty and peace as a part of the process of hope that will never cease as long as there is a single bit of humanity in our species.