Sunday, September 7, 2008

Elliot Hughes: American Hero

This is the story of Elliot Hughes, who never asked to be famous. But through no fault of his own became a Hero in the struggle for our Inalienable Rights here in this country we love called America. What makes him a Hero is that after he suffered through trials and tribulations, he had the courage to speak out.

His story is not known by many Americans. But in time that will change. As the Truth is revealed we will begin to realize that what happened to Elliot could have happened to any of us. Or to your child or loved one. At anytime and anywhere in this once Proud and Free nation.

His story begins on a September day in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota. Elliot was riding his bike and accompanying some friends. They were chanting "Who's streets? Our streets.". A group of Police on bicycle were following Elliot and his friends, but they were not overly concerned. Why should they be? They were not doing anything wrong or illegal. And the duty of the Police is to protect law abiding citizens, isn't it?

Suddenly, for no apparent reason and with no warning, the Police bicyclists burst through Elliot's group of friends. And then in one fateful moment, one of the Police bicyclists collided with Elliot's bicycle. In the mayhem that ensued the Police forced Elliot to the ground face down and handcuffed him. Almost immediately, more Officers arrived on the scene. Some on motorcycle. Elliot lying face down on the street was surrounded by Police. They formed a barrier around him as his friends watched incredulously and helplessly from the perimeter.

As Elliot was taken away in a Police car he called out his name clearly so we could all hear it and then he disappeared like so many others - detained by the Minnesota Police. But this in not the end of Elliot's tale. His heroic struggle against injustice was just beginning.

A few days later he reappeared at a Press Conference with bruises and cuts on his right temple and above his right eye. The words he spoke that day are an indictment of not just the Minnesota Police but the whole Justice system in America. Here is what he had to say.

"My name is Elliot Hughes. Me and some friends were chanting for—so that we could receive food in Ramsey County Jail, because we hadn’t been provided food. And six or seven officers came into my cell, and they took—one officer punched me in the face, right here where you see this bruise. And then they slammed—and I fell to the ground, unconscious. And the officer grabbed me by the head, slammed my head on the ground and re-awoke me out of—to consciousness. And I was bleeding everywhere. They dragged me to another detaining cell. They put a bag over my head that had a gag on it. And they used pain compliance tactics on me for about an hour and a half. They pressed—they separated my jaw as hard as they could with their fingers. And they bent my ankles back. They basically bent my foot backwards. I was screaming for God and like screaming for mercy, crying, asking them why they were doing this. And I’ve never been so violated in my life."

Who will be held responsible for this act of sadistic torture of an American citizen in an American jail who has committed no crime? Is it the Officers who participated in this heinous act? Or Sherrif Fletcher who defends it. Or is the blame higher up? The Mayor, the Governor, or even the President of the United States of America? And what part of the blame do each of us share for allowing such a cruel and inhuman system to be part of our society?

Francis Scott Key once asked a related question. At the time America was under attack by a foreign country, the British. And it was not certain what the outcome would be. Like Elliot, he was held prisoner. Here are his words.

"O say, does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave o'er the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave?"

Today America faces a much more dangerous enemy. It is an enemy from within that seeks to rob all of us of our Inalienable Rights. Elliot has shown us an example of how to fight back. Will we have the courage of our forefathers to continue fighting this battle, or will Tyranny ultimately prevail over this Land of the Free and Home of the Brave?

Video Evidence

The Arrest of Elliot Hughes
0:50-0:55 - Person arrested. Presumably Elliot Hughes.

Elliot at a Press Conference Describing Torture while Detained

Group of Lawyers, Activists, and Journalists presenting the St. Paul Mayor's Office with information regarding Elliot's torture while in Police custody and demanding that the Mayor take responsibility for the Police violence during the RNC. Three specific demands were brought before the Mayor's representative.
1) End to Police violence on the streets.
2) All arrestees released immediately.
3) Dismissal of all Charges.
3:30 - Facts of Elliot Hughes case presented to the Mayor's Office. Request for Criminal Investigation.
4:50 - 3 Demands presented.
5:15 - Discussion of Sherrif Fletcher's plan to declare Protest March illegal at 5PM.`
6:40 - Report of Riot Police in the Lobby.
9:20 - Discussion of the case of Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! and other journalists.
11:15 - Riot Police seen outside door of Mayor's Office.
12:00 - Riot Police arrive in full gear at Mayor's Office.
17:40 - Concerns expressed about being harassed by Police on the way out of the Mayor's office.
19:00 - Mayor's representative finally agrees to escort the group out for their safety.

UPDATE: Elliot provides a detailed Statement

Elliot Hughes has provided a detailed account of the abuse he suffered while being held prisoner by the Police. After being unlawfully arrested, he continued to battle for his rights in prison and was horribly punished for his refusal to submit. In so doing, he exposed the Fascist nature of the Police that were illegally holding hundreds of peaceful protesters such as himself.

An audio clip containing Elliot's detailed testimony can be found on this page.
It's part of the September 5th segment of the "Flashpoints" program and begins around 8:00 on the audio clip.

9:00 - False allegation of assaulting a Police officeer
9:25 - Elliot faints for first time
9:40 - Elliot convulses and dry heaves, officers say he is faking
10:10 - Elliot taken to detaining cell for "medical treatment". He is told that coughing blood is normal. Elliot informed that he had suffered a bruised rib.
10:45 - Elliot begins pounding on door demanding food. After an hour, given peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
11:05 - Elliot put in solitary confinement in Cell Block A.
11:30 - Elliot given X-Ray. Found bruised rib and bruised ankle.
12:00 - Vegan food denied.
12:30 - Elliot taken to Restraining Chair.
12:40 - Officer punches Elliot in the face knocking him unconscious. Elliot's head slammed to the ground re-awakening him from unconsciousness. Elliot began screaming and crying. Asking why they did that.
13:15 - Bag placed over Elliot's head. His mouth was gagged.
13:35 - Elliot taken to a solitary cell. Officer's begin using Pain Compliance. Elliot was screaming and crying.
14:50 - Elliot taken to Regents hospital.
15:30 - Elliot vomits in bag over his head due to concussion. Officers refuse to remove bag.
16:15 - Officers refuse to allow Elliot access to a social worker.
16:25 - Officers refuse to allow Elliot to receive medical treatment until he "calmed down".
16:50 - Elliot could not drink from faucet due to handcuffs.
17:00 - Elliot taken through Regent's hospital with bag still on his head full of vomit and blood. He is crying and telling people about his story. Elliot describes this as a "walk of humiliation".
17:20 - Bag finally removed from Elliot's head and his wounds cleaned out.
17:25 - Elliot not allowed to use bathroom. Only allowed to use a cup.
17:35 - Elliot continued to ask to talk to a Social Worker and was denied.
17:50 - Elliot taken back to Regent's hospital detaining cell where air conditioner had been turned up and it was "freezing cold". Officers refused to give him a blanket.
18:15 - Elliot taken back to jail and forced to strip and stand naked in front of a group of Police.
18:50 - Elliot suffers a migraine due to concussion. Officers refused to give him Tylenol or Advil.
19:15 - Elliot speaks to attorney and was released.
19:25 - Elliot received medical treatment at Wellness Center and received "great support" from fellow activists.
20:00 - End of statement.


My comments on this detailed statement.

I don't think I am being overdramatic in saying that this reminds me of the treatment of Jesus before he was crucified, when he was beaten and stripped and humiliated by the Roman guards. In the case of Jesus a crown of thorns was place on his head. In the case of Elliot it was a bag. And of course it also reminds me of the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, which is a very sad statement indeed.


Paul Hughes said...

What the hell is going on down there?

Anonymous said...

On Flashpoints investigative news radio, the edition of September 5th, they played another account by Elliot of the torture with more details: - for listening, downloading, or podcast.

Frank Hope said...

I just listened to the Flashpoint program with the detailed account by Elliot of his torture in jail. The details are even more chilling. I will add it to this post. I've been looking for a transcript. If anyone comes across one, please let me know by adding a comment.

Anonymous said...

I posted above. For the record, I originally found that audio link in Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore's blog:

Anonymous said...

I was right next to him when the police rammed his bike and arrested him.... it was fucked up

Gal. Emp. Palpatine, D.L.S., Esq. said...

Yo. I'm not usually part of the left-wing blogosphere--in fact, full disclosure, I'm a Republican living in St. Paul. But I saw this on the news last night, and I want to warn you guys before you lionize Elliot too much.

I went to grade school with Elliot. He was the most derided person in my class for a number of consecutive years, not because of the usual reasons like he was smart or nerdy or short or ugly, but because he was a nearly pathological liar who was permanently of the opinion that the world was conspiring against him in some broad conspiracy, which for some reason always revolved around him. Even if you were nice to him (I always tried to be), he was a total jerk and would repay your kindness by making you a central part of his victim fantasy, combining wildly reduced doses of truth with complete invention.

Also, he had the worst homework record in Mrs. Gavin's fourth grade class.

So, basically, unless Elliot has had a come-to-Jesus moment since I last saw him eight or nine years ago, this is almost certainly B.S. from top to bottom. I agree there are a lot of important questions to be asked about what the police did and did not do during the Republican convention, and I hope we have a discussion about those in coming days. But this guy is the absolutely worst icon you could settle on, because almost nothing he says is remotely likely to be true. You should find someone else.

Of course, I'm just some anonymous commentor, so I could be some dude from the police state trying to silence Elliot's dissent. So don't take my word for it. Do the bloggy thing and do some research on him. He graduated from Nativity of Our Lord K-8 in... oh, must have been 2003, and went to Cretin-Derham High after that. I don't know whether he ever successfully had friends, but he certainly had a lot of people with a lot of opinions about him at those two schools.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't call him I liar, if I were you, you not being there. I was in Elliot's cell block (A) and witnessed some of the beating. the part with about 8 guards on him, and listening to him scream bloody murder for help and to the janitor clean up the blood afterwards... i don't know if i would consider him cruicified, but what astounded me was how systematic the guards did it, and how normal it seemed to them. perhaps they're used to this sort of thing and usually get away with it.

Gal. Emp. Palpatine, D.L.S., Esq. said...

Well, even liars can tell the truth. Just because Elliot is incredibly untrustworthy does not guarantee that his story is false. And if you can corroborate it... well, then, I'm more inclined to believe it.

And that would indeed be quite serious.