Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Fisher Price

Soviet psychiatrists had been accused in the West of diagnosing as mentally ill political dissidents they knew to be mentally well. According to both Western critics and Soviet dissidents, the K.G.B. [...] had regularly referred dissidents to psychiatrists for such diagnoses in order to avoid embarrassing public trials and to discredit dissent as the product of sick minds.
-- New York Times,
The World of Soviet Psychiatry,
Jan. 30, 1983.

Human Rights Watch has documented other instances when the Uzbek government has arbitrarily detained human rights defenders by placing them in psychiatric detention. In March 2005, Larissa Konakova, who had assisted victims of government abuse, was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. The court failed to take into account an earlier court-ordered diagnosis by the hospital stating that she did not require treatment. Fearing long-term forcible commitment in a psychiatric institution, Konakova fled the country.

On January 28, 2006, 53 year old Carol Fisher was arrested in Cleveland Hieghts, OH, for "assaulting police officers" while she was hanging World Can't Wait "Bush Step Down" posters in the area. Passing officers, Daniel Downey and Mike Frinzl, told her she could not hang the posters and that there was a $100 fine if she did not remove the offending anti-Bush sign. Fisher claims she was walking away when the officers demanded ID and things escalated until Fisher was on the ground with a knee in her back or so she claimed. Fisher said she voiced objections saying, “as citizens we have the responsibility to stop the crimes of the Bush regime.”

“I am sick of this anti-Bush shit,” one officer said, claimed Fisher and further promised that she would be "definitely going to the psych ward." (read Carol's first hand account of these actions).

It now appears that the officer has seen his promise come true.
Judge Timothy McGinty forcibly incarcerated Carol Fisher in the psych unit of the Cuyahoga County Jail in downtown Cleveland, where she now sits for an indefinite period of time.

In a hastily called hearing yesterday, Judge McGinty made a highly unusual and outrageous decision to force Carol to undergo a state psychological exam as part of her pre-sentencing investigation. Fromthe very start of Carol's case, the judge has openly said that she must have mental problems for resisting an unlawful and brutal encounter with Cleveland Heights police. He went even further in yesterday's hearing, saying that her opposition to the Bush regime makes her "delusional."

The small courtroom on the 21st floor of the Justice Center was ringed with 5 armed court bailiffs. McGinty started off the hearing by making Carol stand up and had one of her attorneys read her t-shirt, which said: "Wanted for Illegally Crossing Borders: The Bush Regime."

"If you are going to insist that crossing borders illegally is a crime which cannot be tolerated, how about George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice (and yes, Colin Powell) and the rest of that gang, with their highly illegal, and violent, 'crossing of the border'-into Iraq, among other places?!"

McGinty then said this was proof of her delusion! He also kept saying Carol "wants" to go to jail, and that she has a "martyr complex." When Carol tried to explain why she wouldn't take this test, the judge's only response was, "I do not negotiate with felons."
This had all the appearances of the former Soviet-era behaviour. Doubt was raised, briefly, though as I was plowing around and found this "eye witness" account at HeightsMom, from a person who claims to have seen the entire event, claims that the police acted professionally and without prejudice and further indicates that Fisher was thrashing around madly and trying to bite the officers. This person further states that they looked forward to "testifying against Carol Fisher" in court. I thought, ok, maybe Carol is wacky.

Of course, we are talking about an anonymous comment on some blog, perhaps by someone who would prefer to believe the police are incapable of malice. Such people usually have no idea that officers routinely pose as protesters and infiltrate demonstrations, usually with the aim of inciting violence in order that the cops can start crackin' heads.

Doubts about each side of the story bubble. But reports of Fisher's trial indicate that the prosecution produced no witnesses who actually saw the events in question. It seems that the truth-loving witness failed to materialize:
Carol Fisher was found guilty today of two counts of felonious assault of two 200 + pound Cleveland Heights policemen (who, collectively, can bench 700#’s) and whose testimony contained serious contradictions. None of the other witnesses provided by the prosecution actually saw “the assault.”
So, it appears that we have a situation that has the potential to be as bad as many of us fear, that Bush supporters, or even police-state judges, continue to parlay a love of totalitarianism into the nascent, Stalinesque treatment of dissent with psychiatric gulags.


Blogger CindyZawadzki said...

Hey - I just found your blog. Great stuff.

Yeah - the Carol Fisher thing is kinda weird huh? She sounded believable when I heard her on Joe Finan (1350am) but as I read more and more about her actions i just doubt her story.

As far as the Anti-Bush side of it, I'd like to know exactly what the judge said too. I have a feeling, Carols supporters might be spinning it to her favor but - who knows. The police definetely could have handled this better. It is ridiculus that it even got this far.

I hope the whole psych unit thing is just to keep her out of jail. I think the minimum for assaulting an officer is 18 months. She does not deserve that - perhaps that is what the judge meant by saying "she wants to go to jail".

All in All - everyone loses. Noone came out looking good in this case.

I have chronicled the case here:

With links to several news articles about the case too.

Thanks for linking to my blog - Cindy

7:53 PM  
Blogger theBhc said...

Hi Cindy,

Thanks for coming by. This whole thing is baffling, made more so by being a great distance removed from the scene.

The indymedia reports I've seen are not flattering of the trial nor of the judge involved. And I still have to wonder what happened to the "four witnesses" the article said the prosecution had. Indymedia reported that none of the witnesses had actually seen the event.

It all is making little sense to me at this point. Did the judge really make those remarks about her t-shirt and her anti-Bush statements? We'll have to wait for the transcripts to find out what really happened.


8:42 PM  
Blogger CindyZawadzki said...

Are you a Clevelander? or just interested in the case?


7:56 AM  
Blogger theBhc said...

No, I'm not. Just interested from afar.

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about we ask the Judge whether he is part Russian or ever been a commie,because in russia they persecuted christians.

2:40 AM  
Blogger Jacques Moneaux said...

Their is definitely a lot of bias flying around.

I just emailed C. Fisher's lawyer trying to find out if anyone who testified at the trial actually witnessed it. Specifically our friend Mark B.

Indymedia's statement "None of the other witnesses provided by the prosecution actually saw “the assault.”" could be misleading.

I have the feeling that it is a case of ridiculous escalation as the cops dealt with an over-zealous revolutionary and in turn became overly forceful. I think Carol Fisher should have taken the plea for misdemeanor resisting arrest and then filed a seperate suit for police brutality.

I would also mention that she works at Revolution Books, which supports Bob Avakian. I have absolutely no problem with communists, but I have a big problem with people who endorse violence as a means to an end (and that would mean Bob Avakian/Maoist Communism).

As much as we could hope the police were better at their job...
Protesters should also practice non-violent resistance. She lived through the civil rights era, and every intelligent protester I know trains themselves to go limp when siezed.

3:29 PM  

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