Denver Direct: Brutal Jailers and Brutal Rulers – from July, 2014 Naysayer, by Phil Goodstein
Saturday, July 5, 2014
Note: This video is extremely “graphic”, in that it show the dying moments of a mentally ill inmate.
“On March 17, 2013, in full view of most of the Defendants, a shackled and stripped Christopher Lopez died alone and ignored, on the cold concrete floor of a cell at the San Carlos Correctional Facility. His death could have been easily prevented by most of the defendants had any one of them simply picked up a phone and called for medical help. Instead, the Defendants, all employees of the Colorado Department of Corrections, ultimately made what could pass as a documentary film on how to ignore the obvious and serious medical needs of a dying prisoner for hours until the very last breath of life leaves his body.” from Westword article here.
from July, 2014 Naysayer, by Phil Goodstein
Under Wellington Webb, the Denver Police Department returned to its usual brutal practices. Instead of redressing this, Webb advertised how mean and tough he was, surrounding himself with goons to intimidate one and all. He saw that private employees guarded city buildings. Their primary targets were everyday citizens who had the gall to go into public structures.
On succeeding Webb, John Hickenlooper sought to make cosmetic reforms on the police force. Included was the creation of a toothless independent monitor while the city continued to churn out millions to pay victims of police brutality. Simultaneously, Hickenlooper pushed through a failed Webb initiative, a massive new downtown jail and courthouse. While the administration claimed they came in on time and at budget, they were actually severely delayed, poorly designed, and well above the original price estimates. Much worse, rather than solving problems with the hideous treatment of prisoners, conditions have been as bad as ever at the new jail.
Recently, Federal District Court Judge John Kane had the integrity to do what nobody in city hall has dared touch in years: forcing the police and sheriff’s departments to release their records about complaints and assaults at the jail. Frequently, inmates find themselves far more threatened and abused by deputy sheriffs than guarded by them. A whitewash has been the system’s primary response while prisoners filing complaints frequently find themselves subjected to new punishments.
Such a policy begins at the top with the mayor. It filters through the Civil Service Commission, the body overseeing the police depart-ment—city council and the judiciary join the mayor in appointing its members. For the most part, the mayor and commission bless the doings of the police and sheriff’s departments. Far more than serving and protecting the public, their primary roles are to intimate and coerce.
The primary targets are the poor and those who fail to embrace the system. Invariably, crackdowns focus on people at the bottom of society, usually leaving affluent plunderers untouched. Particularly during the hysteria induced by the governor and the mayor over Occupy Denver, the message was blunt: overwhelming force will be used against anybody who questions the essence of the status quo.
While the police perform this duty on the streets, deputy sheriffs take charge once suspects are locked up. Given the hideous way they are treated, not surprisingly, inmates often have most surly, vicious attitudes. The result is an escalating cycle of violence. By failing scrupulously to review official violence, city hall encourages it. Were it not for the action of Judge Kane, the city would simply continue to pay out dollars to plaintiffs as the price of keeping the barbarous system in place. The failure of the mayor, council, and the judiciary to intervene, shows they prefer the everyday operations of this hideous machine and the worst of the system it represents.
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