Then . . .
. . . and Now

Activists from NY who can remember the massive February 15, 2003 anti-war protests and the brutality of the NYPD horse units will find an eerie parallel in the story of Houston janitors being stomped by police horses. It's currently being covered by left-liberal blogger Majikthise. The Houston janitors are a part of the 32BJ janitors' union, and were engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience over receiving less than poverty wages from their employers, some of Houston's largest corporations. The injuries reported include an 83 year old janitor who had her arm crushed by a horse. She is in the hospital -- the kicker is that she was protesting because she has no health insurance. Unfortunately, the violence and harassment didn't conclude when the horses went away. 32 BJ Organizer Anna Denise Solis reported from the prison:“I’m from Texas and I helped organize the union here in Houston. For me the janitors’ struggle is very personal. Coming back to Texas is like coming home. We wanted to peacefully occupy the intersection downtown to make a statement to the city: ‘Houston can’t go on like this, with so many living in poverty.’ 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.Presently, the blogosphere is fixated upon the case of a UCLA student being tasered for not showing ID. While I think that is no less important than this case, it's also no more important. Fellow bloggers and revolutionaries, let's make sure that this case gets the redress it deserves.