Law and Disorder Radio – Settlement in May Day LAPD Police Brutality Cases – Novelist Nora Eisenberg on the First Gulf War – Hosts: Dalia Hashad, Heidi Boghosian, Michael Steven Smith & Michael Ratner – Produced by Geoff Brady

Law and Disorder Radio

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$13 Million Payout in May Day LAPD Police Abuse Cases

In a landmark class action lawsuit settlement, the Los Angeles City Council agreed to pay nearly $13 million to those injured or mistreated in the 2007 May Day demonstration in MacArthur Park. As the march ended, LAPD riot police were filmed by camera crews using excessive force, firing rubber bullets and striking people with batons. Dozens were injured in the melee and the footage was seen around the world. The $13 million settlement was part of a larger portion of nearly 300 May Day claims.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carol Sobel:

  • There was an immigrants’ rights march in MacArthur Park in Los Angeles on May 1st 2007, as there has been for the last 7 years. The police didn’t want to give the group a permit to march in the streets.
  • There are about 20 lawyers on this case, the National Lawyers Guild, the Guild’s Police Accountability Project and MALDEF, the Mexican American Legal Defense Education Fund.
  • As around 10,000 people approached the park, police “forgot” to direct people into the park.
  • The rally was at the Northwest corner of park, so marchers had to cross an 8 lane highway that divides the park. This created chaos of which the problems arose.
  • There was no instruction, people didn’t know where they were supposed to go.
  • Then people got near police on motorcycles; they used their motorcycles to hit protesters. This was happening as an Aztec circle dance performance closed the march and opened the rally.
  • Some protesters threw trash, plastic water bottles at police. It was heard that the police said “We need to get rid of these people now.” Police were not giving orders to disperse, they simply said “move”…to the 10,000 people in the park.
  • The officers were speaking only English, the crowd spoke almost all Spanish.
  • Families had no idea why the police were coming with riot gear. While police were saying to move, people were thinking, “well I didn’t do anything wrong, they couldn’t be talking to me.”
  • So officers began knocking people down and hitting people, firing pellets. It was total chaos.
  • 140 rounds of less lethal munitions were randomly fired into the crowds.
  • The police report also stated there was no probable cause, no reason to go after the marchers.
  • Lesson: It’s very difficult to change the culture of a police department. The police department can’t engage in this behavior, because we can’t afford it as a city.

Guest – California civil rights attorney Carol Sobel, who represented some of the injured. In 2000 Carol was struck by police pellets while serving as a legal observer during the Democratic National Convention.

Nora Eisenberg: When You Come Home

We’re pleased to have with us Nora Eisenberg, the author of the recent book When You Come Home. It is a powerful novel that acknowledges the physical and psychological effects of veterans returning from Operation Desert Storm/the Persian Gulf War (2 August 1990 – 28 February 1991). In this beautifully written ant-war fiction, Nora delves into the corrosive effects post war combat has on the families and communities that are called on to nurture veterans returning home. Mimi is the main character, whose husband was killed in Vietnam. Her 20-year-old son Tony, a Marine reservist, has returned from the Gulf War. Tony’s childhood sweetheart, Lily, was raised by Mimi after her parents disappeared.

One book review describes When You Come Home this way: “In 1991, troops sent to Iraq for the first Gulf War returned home with a litany of physical, neurological, and psychological symptoms that collectively became known as Gulf War Syndrome, a subject seldom dealt with in works of fiction. Eisenberg poignantly demonstrates that casualties of war occur both on and off the battlefield and ironically illustrates the vivid consequences when those in charge of veterans’ postwar care fail to meaningfully “support our troops.””

Nora Eisenberg:

  • The First Gulf War – “The Good War”, 5 weeks of censorship and fabrication. Fabricated by a Washington based PR firm – Hill and Nolton. The campaign was headed by Craig Fuller. Fuller was also Chief of Staff for George H.W. Bush. Fuller took charge of the campaign to impress the public of what villains the Iraqis were.
  • The firm brought this young girl to testify in front of a Congressional Committee – She claimed to work at a maternity ward in Kuwait. “The mean Iraqi soldiers” came in and hurled nearly 300 babies from their incubators and were left to die on the floor.
  • This young girl was part of the Kuwaiti Royal Family, her father was Washington/Kuwait ambassador.
  • All part of a $10 million PR campaign with Hill and Nolton.
  • Aside from the no-fly zones and sanctions, the deaths of Iraqis were massive and continuing.
  • I’ve been following the deteriorating health system in Iraq and the rise of disease leading to the deaths of 2 million Iraqi children.
  • I started writing this book with the “bad” war looming and with a sense that the ’91 war wasn’t over at all.
  • I thought, are we going to kill millions again and get off scot free, does it really work that way?
  • Gulf War Illness, even among progressive people, there remains very little awareness of what this disease is. It attacks the respiratory system, the nervous system; it’s a neurotoxic event.
  • These soldiers got sick, immediately. Some say they got sick after swallowing an anti-nerve gas pill.
  • When they were around the insecticides that were soaking the tents, they felt sick immediately, vertigo, stomach cramps.
  • The soldiers’ loved ones and pets coming down with similar symptoms, by proximity.
  • It’s taken almost 20 years for Congress to say what the veterans already knew, that they were poisoned.
  • A report delivered by high profile doctors at Roberta White say the soldiers were exposed to neurotoxins. These were not neurotoxins from Saddam Hussein.
  • Those are main culprits, there are other terrible exposures that came out in a report last November.
  • Such as the exposure to sarin in a weapons depository that affected 2-3 hundred thousand US soldiers.
  • Nearly 15,000 have died from Gulf War Illness. We have nearly 400,000 US soldiers coming back as patients–nearly 40 percent are psychiatric patients.

Guest – Nora Eisenberg, New York City novelist and professor of English at the City University of New York (LaGuardia) and directs CUNY’s Faculty Publications Program. The War at Home was a Washington Post Rave Book of the Year for 2002 and Just the Way You Want Me was awarded the 2004 Gold Prize in General Fiction from Foreword, the weekly of independent publishing. Her short stories, essays, and reviews have appeared in The Village Voice, Partisan Review, the LA Times, Tikkun, and numerous anthologies.