I got this following message by email this morning from my friend and fellow Arise board member Keely:
I went to the rally yesterday and I wanted to update you all.
People have been VERY hostile to this information getting out, many listserves that I am on have been home to heated debate with area residents making exclamations like "Come on this is Not L.A." Or " There Is no story. It was made up" to "if its true why is in not in the police blotter"--Come on, since when have the police kept record of their own brutality??!!?? These things do happen--even in th happy valley!
The following is information of what allegedly took place in Downtown Northampton this past weekend.
Here is the information as it was told by Al's best friend Aaron @ yesterday's rally:
Al is a Black Disabled Veteran. He was arrested at Urban Outfitters for alleged shoplifting. Aaron believes that when the police brought him out of the store and around the corner there were reports of Al yelling "You are really hurting me!" It is at that point that Aaron believes (based on eye witness accounts) that the beating ensued. It is believed that Al received many blows to his face (and probably body as well). Aaron reported that he was notified of the arrest and proceeded to gather bail money. Aaron arrived at the Police station sometime after the arrest (I'm not sure how much later--it might have even been the next morning?) Aaron said that he was here to bail Al out. The officers began processing bail. It was at that point that an officer went to go retrieve Al and found him unconscious (later to be deemed in a coma) in his cell. Al was NOT breathing at this point in time and the officer returned to report to Aaron that he "had come bad news," It appeared his friend had suffered a Massive Heart Attack. Aaron said that it was was clear at that point in time that Al had NOT been monitored while locked up. The police were ONLY aware of Al's condition because they had gone to retrieve him for bail. Once at the Hospital Aaron was disturbed to see the extent of Al's injuries.
Al's bottom jaw was injured so badly and that it was knocked so far to the right that "Al can look down to the side and see his own jaw!" His upper lip was completely split open horizontally and his eyes were swollen shut. Al's family came to Cooley Dickinson and they, as well as Aaron and members of Poverty is Not a Crime, have reported that all doctors and nurses at Cooley Dickinson Hospital who have cared for Al have said "There is Nothing wrong with this man's heart. He did not have a heart attack" Aaron reported that Al has no spleen and due to this feels pain much more intensely than most. Aaron said that the medical professionals believe that Al's body went into a coma as a way of coping with the intense pain he was experiencing. It is not known for how long Al laid on the cell floor, not breathing, nor the extent of brain damage due to an extended period of time with no oxygen going to his brain. Al is currently at Cooley Dickinson, in and out of consciousness.
Action MUST be taken!!! Please make the following phone calls:
Mayor Higgins should have an earful--413.587.1249
WE MUST PUSH FOR AN INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION!
Police Chief Russell Sienkiewicz---413.587.1100
The arresting officers AND the officers that left Al bleeding and unconscious in a cell should be suspended without pay effective immediately
Even if you are NOT a resident of Northampton I urge you to make these phone calls--because we ALL do business in that town, purchase items in that town, are patrons at its stores and restaurants, or work in Northampton! We ALL have a stake in protecting our Disabled Veterans! We ALL deserve to feel safe.