News Human Rights

Pregnant Occupy Protester Miscarries After Being Beaten and Sprayed by Police

Lorraine Berry

Crooks and Liars is reporting that 19-year old Jennifer Fox, who was beaten and sprayed last Thursday at the same OWS demonstration in which an 84-year old woman was sprayed, miscarried her three-month fetus on Sunday.

As someone who lost a three-month pregnancy, I am broken-hearted for this young woman. I weep tears of rage. I am trying to think of something eloquent to say, but all that will come right now is a howl of shame and disgust at what this country is doing to its people. 

When I was 27, I was three months pregnant with Saoirse. The U.S. had just declared war on Iraq in 1991, and I marched many times while pregnant against the war. I thought that I had moral capital, carrying life inside me and protesting against the loss of life.

This poor woman has had the life within her crushed by police brutality. By the brutality of a system that feels threatened.

I mourn with her. 

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Here is the link. It appears to be broken, although you can access the link from the front page. Pregnant miscarries

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From the article: 

Seattle Post-Intelligencer photographer Joshua Trujillo snapped a picture of Fox in apparent agony as another activist carried her to an ambulance.

Seattle fire department spokesman Kyle Moore told The Washington Post that a 19-year-old pregnant woman was among those that were examined by paramedics.

While doctors at Harborview Medical Center didn’t see any problems at the time, things took a turn for the worst Sunday.

“Everything was going okay until yesterday, when I started getting sick, cramps started, and I felt like I was going to pass out,” she explained.

When Fox arrived at the hospital, doctors told her that the baby had no heartbeat.

“They diagnosed that I was having a miscarriage. They said the damage was from the kick and that the pepper spray got to it [the fetus], too,” she said.

“I was worried about it [when I joined the protests], but I didn’t know it would be this bad. I didn’t know that a cop would murder a baby that’s not born yet… I am trying to get lawyers.”

 I will update this story as more information becomes available.

News Human Rights

ACLU Files Lawsuit Against Baton Rouge Police Department

Imani Gandy

“Defendants have responded to peaceful acts of protest with unlawful restrictions on constitutionally protected activity and disproportionate deployment of militarized equipment and excessive force,” the complaint reads.

A group of civil rights organizations filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Wednesday in Louisiana alleging that the Baton Rouge police have unlawfully infringed on the First Amendment rights of protesters who gathered to protest the recent death of Alton Sterling at the hands of police officers.

Plaintiffs include the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Louisiana, Black Youth Project 100, North Baton Rouge Matters, the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, and the Louisiana Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.

Defendants include the City of Baton Rouge, the Baton Rouge Police Department, the Louisiana State Police, and the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Department, among others.

In the wake of Sterling’s death on July 5, a video of which went viral on social media, thousands of protesters took to the streets to engage in protest. In Louisiana, they were met, as alleged in the complaint, with a “military-grade assault on protestors’ bodies and rights.”

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“Defendants have responded to peaceful acts of protest with unlawful restrictions on constitutionally protected activity and disproportionate deployment of militarized equipment and excessive force,” the complaint reads.

The lawsuit alleges that law enforcement officers have “escalated peaceful situations, impeded protestors’ entry or exit from demonstrations; threatened assault with chemical agents including mace and pepper spray; rounded them up in mass arrests; [and] engaged in physical and verbal abuse.”

The lawsuit additionally alleges that multiple protesters were “punished and wrongly arrested” for engaging in “constitutionally-protected speech.”

According to the complaint, about 200 people have been arrested in the past week during the Baton Rouge protests.

Those include prominent Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson.

“I witnessed firsthand as peaceful protestors were violently attacked and arrested, assault weapons pointed at them with fingers on the triggers, some dragged across the cement, their clothes ripped off of them,” said Alison McCrary, president of the Louisiana Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, as reported by WWL-TV.

“What I saw happening was an immediate threat to life. My and other demonstrators’ speech was chilled because of this event,” McCrary continued.

In addition to filing the complaint, plaintiffs filed a request for a temporary restraining order prohibiting the Baton Rouge Police Department and other defendants “from interfering with people’s constitutional protected right to gather peacefully moving forward,” according to a press release issued by the ACLU.

“The police didn’t do their job in Baton Rouge, again,” said ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director Marjorie Esman, according to KATC. “They are bound to protect us from harm, to keep us safe, to do everything possible before throwing someone to the ground or pulling the trigger,” she continued.

“Yet Alton Sterling is on the long list of Black people killed needlessly by our nation’s police, and protests in his honor have turned into circuses of violence where the first amendment is tossed aside,” she said.

Esman concluded, “We can’t bring Alton Sterling back but at a minimum, the police can stop blocking our right to protest in his name.”

Culture & Conversation Abortion

The Burden Is Undue: What I Have Learned and Unlearned About Abortion

Madeline Gomez

For all 29 years of my life, the right to abortion has been under attack. In early March, I slept at the Supreme Court overnight, waiting for oral arguments, and had time to reflect on the experiences that have made me an advocate.

Thirteen years before I was born, the Supreme Court declared abortion a fundamental right in Roe v. Wade. Despite this, for all 29 years of my life, the right to abortion has been under attack.

In the past six years alone, states have enacted 288 provisions restricting access to abortion care. Three years ago, the Texas state legislature enacted HB 2, an omnibus anti-abortion bill. And on Monday, the Supreme Court ruled two provisions of that law are unconstitutional.

I am a Texas native, a Latina, a lawyer, and a reproductive justice advocate, so this case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, naturally hits close to home.

In the years since HB 2 has passed, I have heard from friends who have waited weeks and been forced to drive hours just to get an appointment at a clinic. And, as my colleagues and I wrote in an amicus brief the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health filed with the Supreme Court, women of color in Texas, particularly the 2.5 million Latinas of reproductive age, have been disproportionately affected by the clinic closings resulting from the expensive, onerous, and medically unnecessary standards HB 2 imposed. For example, if the law had been allowed to go into full effect, residents of my birthplace, El Paso, Texas, where 81 percent of the population is Latinx, would have to drive over 500 miles to San Antonio in order to get an abortion in the state.

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In early March, I slept at the Court overnight, waiting for oral arguments. In the 24 hours I spent outside the Court, I had time to reflect on the experiences that have made me an advocate.

***

I am 12, with my mother and her dear friend at the dinner table. As the three of us sit together, I regale them with stories of a teacher I deeply admire. She’s been telling us about how she prays the rosary and speaks to women entering abortion clinics, urging them to “choose life.” I believe this is a good act, something I want to be part of, and I’m proud of my righteousness. My mother’s friend says to me simply, “There are a lot of reasons women have abortions.” Almost 20 years later I will learn that this friend had an abortion, which makes sense statistically speaking, since one in three women do.

I am 14 and sitting in high school religion class. The male instructor tells us that pre-marital sex and contraception are forbidden by our Catholic faith. He says the risk especially isn’t worth it for women: It is, according to him, physically impossible for women to orgasm. At the time, and still, I despair for this man’s wife, and for him. Shortly after this lesson the class watches a 45-minute “documentary” about “partial-birth abortion.” This concludes my sexual health education.

I am 18 and counting 180 seconds, waiting to see whether one or two lines appear on a white stick. In a few weeks I am moving to New York to begin college. In those 180 seconds I decide with little fanfare that, regardless of the number of lines, I will not be pregnant when I go. One line appears and I move, able to begin the education I’ve dreamed of and worked for.

I am 19 and talking with a friend. We get to a question that often comes up among women: What would you do if you got pregnant? She tells me calmly and candidly that she would have an abortion. She is the first person I’ve heard say this aloud. Her certitude resonates with me. I know that I would too, and that though I always felt I should be sorry, I would not be. I feel the weight of the shame I’ve been carrying and I stop apologizing for what I know.

I am 20 and teaching sexual education classes to high school students. More than one young woman tells me that she believes she can prevent pregnancy by spraying Coca-Cola into her vagina after intercourse. We talk about safe and effective methods of contraception. Years later, I still think about the damage and danger inflicted upon young women out of fear of our sexuality and power.

I am 21 and lying naked in bed next to a man I’ve been seeing. We’re discussing monogamy. I’m on the pill and he’d like to stop using condoms. He wants me to know, though, that if I become pregnant he won’t let me have an abortion. Because I am desperate to be loved and because I don’t yet understand that love doesn’t mean conceding your autonomy, it will take another year before I leave him.

I am 22 and my friend—the first I know oftells me she is having an abortion. After the procedure I do not know the right thing to do or say or how to comfort and support her. We will lose touch. Like 95 percent of women who have abortionsshe will not regret her choice. When we reconnect years later, we will talk about her happiness and success and about how far we’ve both come.

I am 24 and reading about Congress making a budget deal contingent on “defunding” Planned Parenthood. I understand that though I now refuse to date men who believe they have a say in my reproductive choices, I’m stuck with hundreds of representatives and senators who think they do and who will use my body and health as a bargaining chip.

I am 26 and in my home state of Texas, Wendy Davis is filibustering an anti-abortion bill with two pink tennis shoes on her feet. I watch her all night, my heart swollen with pride at hundreds of women screaming in the rotunda, refusing to be ignored. Despite their efforts, Texas HB 2 will pass. Within three years, over half the abortion clinics in Texas will close.

Today I am 29 and five justices of the Supreme Court have declared the burden imposed by two provisions of HB 2 undue. Limiting abortion and lying about the effects of these laws hurts women’s health, and now the highest court in this nation has declared these actions and these laws unacceptable and unconstitutional. I am in Washington, D.C., 1,362 miles from the home where I grew up, the day the decision is announcedbut it is not just about me and it’s not just about Texas. It is about the recognition and vindication of our worth and rights as human beings. All 162 million of us.