Sunday, July 13, 2008
Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo come to Nashville
In listening yesterday to Juana Villegas DeLaPaz describe her ordeal at the hands of Davidson County law enforcement authorities, my mind raced to Iraq and the war on terror and the inhumanity our nation stands convicted of on the world stage.
That was war, however, and many miles away.
But the torture Ms. DeLaPaz described happened here in my home, in the state of Tennessee, in the United States of America. What shame! What immorality! And it was done in your name, as citizens of Davidson County, TN.
My previous posts have described the torture.
* A woman, three days before delivery of her fourth AMERICAN child, was wrongly arrested and incarcerated.
* Her water broke while she was in jail; she was transported to Metro General Hospital.
* When the nurse asked her to undress to get into hospital clothes, the sheriff's guard was asked to leave for the moment. He -- yes, he -- refused. So she had to undress in front of him. I don't know about your culture, but in the Mexican culture and Mexican-American culture, that is a highly offensive affront to our women, no to mention our mothers.
* Then, while in labor, she was handcuffed by her wrist and ankle to the bed. I've seen women in labor, and they constantly are shifting positions to try and get some sense of relief, if that is even possible. Now consider the pain if handcuffs prevented your movement.
* Thankfully, the handcuffs were taken off two hours before she delivered. But then she was restrained again in bed a day later. And every trip to the bathroom required leg shackles. When the nurse strongly objected, the sherrif's department stayed absolute. The nurse said the new mother would not be able to clean herself properly with shackles. The sheriff's guard said it didn't matter; he was doing his job.
Didn't we hear that excuse before at Nuremberg? Never forget; we still hardly remember. Our Jewish brothers and sisters deserve better from us.
* It also didn't matter if the baby received the critical mother's milk in its first days of life. The child was removed from its mother, and Ms. DeLaPaz was returned to jail.
* The final injury inflicted upon this CIVIL/MISDEMEANOR offender was the denial of her use of a breast pump to express her milk for the baby and her own comfort. The nurse again strongly objected, but the sheriff's department again played law enforcer, physician and God.
* Ms. DeLaPaz returned to her jail cell in great pain from her swollen breasts. She could not sleep due to the agony.
* Meanwhile, her infant son was taken to a pediatrican. There he was tested and found to have a blood level containing a high measurement of a dangerous chemical that produces jaundice, a yellowing of the skin. My father had jaundice before he died of cancer, so the condition denotes the medical seriousness of the moment.
The child's condition was due to a lack of mother's milk.
Are you starting to think of the 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the forbidding of cruel and unusual punishment?
We usually think of murderers and rapists seeking protection under this amendment. But in Mrs. DeLaPaz's case, it is a mother of three AMERICAN children who was giving birth to her fourth young one. Surely, this area's and nation's supposed "pro-life" forces should be up in arms.
Her crime was being illegally in this nation -- a civil MISDEMEANOR -- and driving without a license -- a TRAFFIC OFFENSE.
So now you know why Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo have come to Nashville. It happened in your own backyard. And there is no reason that it won't happen again, next time to another very expectant mother stopped for a traffic offense in the Berry Hill section of Nashville.
Next time, however, she may be a U.S. citizen who runs afoul of a moment and a policeman. She may not have had time to get her license renewed. She may be driving her husband's car. Why?
Her car registration has been left on the kitchen table for her husband to get her car tested for emissions and re-tagged. I've done as much for my wife. But beware, if your wife unknowingly is driving through a part of Berry Hill. And with her dark hair and new tan she got at Destin, she may look Hispanic from a distance.
Just pray that she isn't pregnant and about to deliver. Don't let her drive in Nashville after the fifth month of pregnancy just to be on the safe side. For sure, keep her out of south Nashville and ultimatelyout of the hands of Sheriff Daron Hall's department.
Thankfully, your wife has nothing to fear from Metro Nashville Police. Its officers and chief have acted honorably in the treatment of Hispanic women and in accepting photo identification other than a driver's license to avoid arrest and incarceration. That's according to state law, too. Chief Serpas and Lt. Don Aaron are law enforcement authorities of honor and integrity, along with those men and women who serve below them.
But Metro Police cannot be there to protect you and your wife from other law enforcement authorities operating in Davidson County.
While Juana Villegas DeLaPaz was put through Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo-like treatment, you can take steps now to stop this outrage from happening again and to your loved one.
1) Call for an end to the 287g deportation program in Davidson County. When very pregnant mothers are tortured, then we know it is not working as promised. This kind of threat does not belong with mothers and taxpayers who now will be liable for millions of dollars in damages for this gross violation of 8th Amendment protections.
2) Call or e-mail Sheriff Daron Hall and Congressman Jim Cooper and tell them that you are holding them personally responsible for this abuse and the threat of more abuse to expectant mothers. Don't let either of them use the excuse of taking the threat of drunken immigrant drivers off the road.
Two incidents tied to drunken immigrant drivers are far outnumbered by incidents involving native Tennesseans. Former UT football start Leonard Little killed a woman in St. Louis while driving under the influence. And he got no jail time. How did that kind of leniency deter future drunk driving crimes? In addition, long lines have returned to driver's license places in Metro. Since undocumented workers can no longer get Tennessee's driver's licenses, they can't be blamed for that social problem.
Call Sheriff Hall at (615) 862-8170. Call Congressman Cooper at (615) 736-5295 or (202) 225-4311. Or send an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to http://www.nashville-sheriff.net/contact_us.htm. For Cooper, go to http://www.cooper.house.gov and click "Contact."
The federal government already has a system in place to remove immigrant drivers with any kind of criminal record off the road and out of the country. In the case of the traffic deaths of a Mt. Juliet couple, the driver already had a dozen drunk-driving arrests. The federal government just failed to do its job and remove him from this nation after his first offense.
Local and state governments cannot afford to take over federal responsibilities, particularly when local mistakes are going to cost taxpayers mega-millions of dollars in defending civil lawsuits and paying jury awards. How are Reps. Jim Cooper and Marsha Blackburn encouraging the federal government to do its job when they simply shift the burden to local authorities and taxpayers? Is that what you sent them to Washington, D.C. for?
If that's how things are supposed to work, then let's shift the administration of Social Security to Tennessee. More Tennessee lives are lost to the average three-year delay in getting disability benefits awarded than from drunk driving arrests. I know about the failure of the Social Security Administration from my dealing with it over my leukemia.
3) Call or e-mail Gov. Phil Bredesen and tell him that you've heard reports that the Tennessee Highway Patrol is applying for 287g deportation powers. Tell him that you don't want that kind of threat to expectant mothers on the state's interstates.
Call (615) 741.2001; Fax: (615) 532.9711; e-mail: email@example.com
Don't let the governor or his staff use excuses that the Highway Patrol officers will be better trained. Unless the governor is willing and magically capable of riding in each patrol vehicle 24/7/365, then no one can guarantee such an outrage will not reoccur. The best protection for expectant mothers is no 287g program in Tennessee. And be sure to keep them out of North Carolina. It is preparing to implement a statewide 287g program.
Do the above things, and Nashville can ensure that the torture of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo will no longer be allowed within its borders. And our wives, mothers and daughters and granddaughters will again be safe on Tennessee's roads.