Date: Tuesday March 15, 2005
Josephine County Adult Jail
1901 NE F St. (behind Wal-Mart)
The women from the March 14th Women's Bridge Blockade and other supporters will rally at the Josephine County Jail to protest unlawful cruel and unusual treatment of activists and the waste of taxpayer money housing non-violent defenders.
While serious and violent offenders are released on a daily basis from the new Josephine County Jail, non-violent protestors are held, and even put into "lockdown" or segregation based upon their First Amendment-protected beliefs.
This form of lockdown or solitary confinement is an extreme form of punishment, particularly for non-violent protestors who were engaging in civil disobedience. "It is unconstitutional to punish a citizen prior to a Court hearing and jury determination of guilt. This gulag-style treatment is a travesty to a fair and just society," said Attorney Lauren Regan of the Civil Liberties Defense Center.
The deputies at the jail have been intimidating and attempting to coerce people by placing them into solitary confinement because of their opinions or beliefs. This treatment of these peaceful protestors is cruel and unusual punishment and unconstitutional.
The Sheriff's office and jail personnel live and work in our communities and must be held accountable for the abuse of any citizen in our community‚Ä"regardless of whether they nonviolently sit down in a road to stop logging, or are exercising their rights to religion, assembly or speech. An erosion of one person's rights is an erosion of all of our rights.
On Monday, March 7, when the major media outlets were on the scene, the sheriff's deputies and jailers appeared to conduct themselves professionally and both police and protestors appeared to have mutual respect for each other. In the days that have passed since, and as the media spotlight waned, the conduct of the deputies in the jail degraded quickly, to the point that one guard told the nonviolent protestors to drink their own urine if they were thirsty.
Leah Carnine, arrested at the Wednesday March 9 Green Bridge blockade, has been in "lockdown," segregated from the rest of the jail population, since booking on Wednesday, March 9.
Incident reports at the jail stated the reason for segregating Carnine include "disruptive behavior" such as "dancing around" in the holding cell. "There is no basis in law or fact that this young woman's actions should have rendered her in a maximum security jail cell with only 15 minutes out of her cell twice a week. This level of punishment is reserved for the most dangerous and physically violent offenders, not for people speaking out against the government. The jail is treating the protestors with disparate treatment based upon their beliefs - which is horrendously unconstitutional in a country that prides itself on its freedom and civil liberties," Regan added.
The on-the-ground campaign to defend Fiddler Mountain, a designated Old-Growth Reserve, has entered its second week. So far, the Fiddler Sale blockades have resulted in 42 arrests.
"The broad-based coalition of activists from local woodsmen, local business owners, teachers, retirees, to Earth First! vow to continue protesting and blocking logging roads. We are united in a historic confrontation. The outcome of this struggle will have implications for national forest policy for decades to come," said Laurel Sutherlin of the Oxygen Collective.