Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Bad stuff at Santa Rita

The SF Bay Guardian is reporting cruel treatment of Occupy Oakland arrestees in Alameda County's main Santa Rita jail. These stories sound worse than what I remember hearing about mass arrests in the 1990s. Beatings with police batons within the jail, medical neglect, untended injuries, prisoners with allergies offered only food that they could not eat, access to toilets denied, hands gone blue for hours in tight plastic cuffs, overcrowding, no relief from pepper spray and tear gas on clothing...

These aren't even American stories from 1970 or 1999. They're American stories from 1920. And, sadly, many of the sneering comments below the story are American jingoisms from 1920.

You should be distressed by the signs of civic regression in these reports no matter what you may think of the confrontational turn the Oakland demonstrations have taken -- and personally I am not in fact crazy about it. The point squarely in front of us is, if we believe in the civilized rule of law then we are against corporal and extrajudicial punishment of anybody, no matter what they are alleged to have done wrong.

The way to prove a system is better than its critics is to treat the critics scrupulously well, not badly.

No comments:

Post a Comment