Allegations that Occupy L.A. detainees were not allowed to use the restroom for hours as they waited on buses headed to jails are being checked out this week by the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, says spokesman Steve Whitmore. Accusations of rough and inhumane treatment of Occupy L.A. arrestees funneled into LA Weekly over the weekend.
A few said that police did not let suspects detained on buses last Wednesday to use the bathroom for up to 7 hours as they awaited processing, causing some to wet themselves and worse. Whitmore said the department, which handled transportation for 276 inmates, was aware of the complaints.
Journalist Yasha Levine, arrested as part of the protest, told the Weekly …
… that at least one busload of protesters endured this treatment (he also reports it here). A female acquaintance, he told us, “wasn't allowed to to the bathroom.”
Sheriff's spokesman Whitmore told the Weekly:
Our people are saying they were on the buses for four hours and there was some confusion about whether they were going to [the LAPD's] Van Nuys [jail] or Parker Center [jail].
He says buses were turned away from Parker Center and then again from Van Nuys, forcing deputies to return the detainees to downtown facilities. That's about an hour ride counting road time alone.
Whitmore called the department's response “a human-level inquiry” and said:
We're going to see what happened to see if we can do it better next time.
However he indicated some of the responsibility here was the LAPD's, and that the deputies were only providing transportation at that department's direction.
The allegations echo reports last month that Occupy protesters in San Diego were held for four hours without access to bathrooms, leading some to go then and there.
Meanwhile, Levine writes of last week's LAPD raid:
… At least one busload of protesters (around 40 people) was forced to spend seven excruciating hours locked in tiny cages on a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept. prison bus, denied food, water and access to bathroom facilities. Both men and women were forced to urinate in their seats. Meanwhile, the cops in charge of the bus took an extended Starbucks coffee break.
Aspiring TV editor Brandon Silverman tweeted:
I was held on police bus for 7 hours, no bathroom,no air
A woman named Deirdre ranted about the same issue via UStream. LAist transcribed some of her complaints:
… We begged to be allowed to go to the bathroom. Our hands were still behind our backs. It had been hours. Some of really had to go to the bathroom. We decided amongst ourselves we would say who this happened to, but one of us really had to go to the bathroom. So together, we surrounded her so the men behind me and the drivers in front of us couldn't see her, and we with our hands behind our backs helped take her pants down so she could go to the bathroom on the seats, cause that was the only option.
Matt Kresling sent the Weekly an account of his arrest and detention and said that even arrestees who could hold it until they made it to jail were only allowed to urinate in a bathroom with their hands still cuffed behind their backs.
When Kresling asked a superior about this the sergeant told him, “Of course we'll remove your cuffs,” according to his account.
Among other allegations of mistreatment, Levine says one of the people hit by an LAPD beanbag round during the Wednesday morning raid of the City Hall encampment was left in pain as his open wound “festered” in need of medical care. He told us he saw this with his own eyes: “I could see an open wound and a huge welt,” Levine said.
Kresling complained that officers used pain-compliance techniques, focusing on “pressure points,” after he went limp for arrest.
He said he was slammed to his stomach and his hair was grabbed during his arrest.
Levine complained that the experience, including two days in jail on high bail despite a misdemeanor allegation of failure to disperse, was a sentence without due process. “It was definitely punishment,” he said.
The reporter said he decided to get arrested because he wanted to see what would happen. He was arguably the only on-duty journalist to witness the post-raid process:
I realized I felt like I had no choice. If I wanted to see what was happening I had to remain. This was one of the reasons why it's important for journalists to not think that the story ends because people are arrested. The interaction with the LAPD only began when tbey were arrested.
We're working on getting comment from the LAPD.