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Police Torture Activist & Poet, Raul (Curly) Estremera
[Raul (Curly) Estremera was wrongly arrested and brutally beaten by the Hayward police. He is a poet with a long history of standing up for human rights and against police brutality, including his active support for victims of police brutality in Santa Cruz and support for U.S. political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal. Curly is known here in Santa Cruz because he never hesitated to make the trip over the hill from San Jose in support of the Santa Cruz Five at protests, forums, trials, and Citizen Police Review Board meetings and he was very active with the Santa Cruz Coalition to Free Mumia Abu Jamal. On the day Raul (Curly) Estremera was arrested and tortured he was returning home from a rally and march in Oakland for Oscar Grant III who had been murdered by a Bart police agent. In custody Raul (Curly) Estremera was brutally beaten and, among many other things, denied needed medicines, water, warmth, and competent medical treatment. What he endured should be considered torture and can easily be considered attempted murder. The police smashing of his megaphone, another of the many crimes against Raul (Curly) Estremera, is symbolic of this police attempt to silence an important voice for justice. Here, Raul (Curly) Estremera tells the entire story in his own words. Justice for Raul (Curly) Estremera! -Steven Argue]
(Photo of Raul (Curly) Estremera by Indybay photographer http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/02/21/18572571.php)
Raul (Curly) Estremera:
Places like Abu Graib needed to be shut down, so does Guantanamo!! So does the Hayward city jail?
I was ordered to put my hands on the two marks set wide apart on the tall desk. My left hand held up my pants after they had removed my shoes and belt. “Put your (expletive) hands on the desk!” re-canted the guard. I tried not to look at him and addressed the female guard before me and behind the desk-“If I let go of my pants, they will fall down”. “Put your hands on the two marks now- and spread your legs”, commanded the guard (which I will refer to as the torturer from now on). He reached out to my knees and pulled my pants down exposing my buttocks and genitals to the two police women and the other guard. I looked to the Latina looking guard with the smirk on her face and whispered just below my breath “pendeja”. My torturer suddenly went into physical animalistic hysterics and like a beast grabbed and twisted both my arms up into the back of my neck, holding them there while pushing up and down, torturing me as he used profane language. He then smashed my chest against the edge of the desk and violently slammed my head onto it.
The blow to my head converted a low ringing tinnitus in my right ear into a high decibel piercing pitch. I slid into a vertigo attack. As the room began to spin, and my legs wobbled, I was dragged to a small cell and thrown into the wall with the door slamming behind me.
Beginning to experience the onset of a full attack I remember thinking “oh God Allah, they’re going to kill me here”.
My name is Raul (Curly) Estremera. I am a great grandfather in my sixties and I suffer from Meniere’s syndrome-a debilitating disease which begins as an attack in one ear, then progressively destroys your hearing. Though it begins mildly for a few years, it progresses to an ever present imbalance, constant nausea, and tinnitus 24/7; it has no known cure.
On January 14th 2009, upon returning home to San Jose from Oakland I arrived at the city of Hayward. Not as much by design, but because of my need to stop and take my medications and make sure that I ate my evening meal at the prescribed time .As an elder in the movement for peace, justice and equality and for my personal security I had been driven back toward the South Bay and had asked the driver to make a quick stop in order to eat a small evening meal there at a restaurant.
I was returning from a well organized rally and March for Oscar Grant III who had been shot dead in the back by a Bart police agent. The community of Oakland wanted a halt to police killings, but also felt a need to put on a peaceful march and rally unlike the previous anti-police-brutality demonstration and rally which had ended in some destruction of community owned businesses, and the vandalizing of community vehicles.
The rally would commence at 4:00 pm at the open air rotunda in front of City Hall where among other speakers the Mayor and representative Barbara Lee were expected to address the attendees.
I had been picked up at my home by a member of a predominantly Chicano group. It was decided that I would be driven to and from the Oakland rally (as I often was) utilizing my own vehicle. I could therefore layback in the rear cab of the pick-up and rest most of the way there and back.
The rally ended and some friends along with my assigned driver set off on the march around the downtown area as security volunteers. In essence they would act as monitors looking for and calming down anyone who might get out of hand. I would stay behind with most of the other elders in order to help take down the stage and props if needed.
Many of us elders who could, or chose not go on the march stood together under a tree located at the other side of the rotunda. It was getting colder and one of them, while admiring my hand carved cane, produced a large sized bottle of vodka and began passing it around. I had put some in my empty soda paper cup and drank it straight. One of them replying “hey man, you aint drivin, is you”? I answered “No, I was driven here and will be driven back”. The alcohol eased my balance. It also reminded me of rituals of Native elders sitting around smoking a peace pipe. Shortly thereafter two more San Jose activists arrived and came over to me. I told them the rally had ended and the march was gone, that it was kind of late to join them. Knowing of my illness they asked me how I felt and I responded that I wasn’t feeling that well and had to take my medications at around seven thirty to eight o’clock and perhaps eat something.
They then asked if they could take me to eat or drive me home. I told them that my pickup was one block away and that perhaps one of them could drive the pick up while the other could follow. They said they would call Victor in the march (my driver from San Jose) on his cell phone and let him know. One of them took the driver’s seat as I got in the cab part of the vehicle. I entered the back and lay stretched out with my back upright, my pillow under my neck and facing him in order to better communicate. Within a few minutes Nick started driving out of Oakland while the other person followed in his S.U.V.
The driver dialed Victor and informed him that we were headed back to San Jose. As we were nearing Hayward we received a call informing us that things at the march were getting somewhat heated up. I told the driver that if they wanted to return to the march, that they could just exit and leave me at a Wendy’s or Denny’s. I told Nick that it was almost time to take my medications and if they would pullover I could just have a meal and stay one or two hours there. That they could return to pick me up since both of these restaurants stayed open late. I could call them, or call my daughter and grandson to come and pick me up if it became too late. We agreed. We exited 880 in Hayward connected onto Mission Boulevard and continued driving while looking for a Denny’s or Wendy’s.
Now and then Nick would slow down, change lanes (watched for signs on restaurants) then continue on. Several times it became a stop and go situation, when suddenly, a car on the left moved up adjacent to the pick-up. He yelled something at Nick which sounded like “hey bud, where you tryin na go” Nick just yelled back “to the freeway”. From my angle, and though it was only for an instant, I saw he had on a plaid shirt, but he could not see me because of the tinted rear windows.
Nick sighting Wendy’s now said “up ahead on the left”. He turned his left signal on, then moved up passing the black car, entered the turn lane and made a left turn. He then made three right turns and landed in front of Wendy’s because most of the parking stalls were full. He parked in front and adjacent to the large front picture window. The Black SUV following moved past us and also parked a bit of a ways in front of us. Nick asked me if I wanted to park inside and I responded that I hadn’t seen a “no parking sign”. I told him “it’s cool, I’ll either call you guys or my daughter”. He exited the car toward the front of it and rushed towards the SUV. I pushed the backseat forward, opened the passenger door and struggled to get out with my cane. I maneuvered my way around two or three standing newspaper stands which blocked my way.
I sort of waddled in with my cane through a left entrance and entered into the beginning of a horrific whirlwind of police of torture and racist proportions……
I walked in and used the bathroom, washed my face and hands and stepped out, stood in line and before a young lady, ordered a sandwich and a drink. With my cane in one hand, tray in the other I walked around the barrier to take a seat after the cashier had asked if she could help me. I took my medication and sipped my drink as several policemen walked in and began to conduct an inspection of the bathroom along with several other areas. They then stepped out for what seemed like another minute or so, came back in and approached me. As I un-wrapped my sandwich they requested to have a word with me outside. I told them that I was eating, but they were adamant. I took my cane and was escorted out the right door. I was then asked to move towards my pick-up truck still parked at the front area. I was asked if the truck belonged to me and I answered in the affirmative.
I remember an exchange between us having to do with walking a straight line. I thought of how ridiculous it was to ask a person with a cane to walk a straight line. I told him explicitly that I had an illness which would prevent me from walking a straight line. I more explicitly explained Menier’s Syndrome for a second time. He ignored me for a third time when I explained in a simple and calm voice as to why I could not raise, or keep it raised, but to no avail. I answered no to being diabetic and verbally spelled out the medications which I had just taken: Hydrochlorothyazide, fosinopril, nifedipine, for high blood pressure and meclizine for help with imbalance. When I would no longer answer anymore questions I remember it being taken as an insult and suddenly being quickly surrounded by other police arrivals.
My walking cane was suddenly ripped from my right hand and I was handcuffed and transported to the rear of the Hayward police station. The cane, a gift by a famous artisan in Havana, both valuable and sentimentally priceless, was in effect stolen from me. I was never informed that I was under arrest and thought I was being taken downtown for a breathalyzer test.
At the station with my jewelry, shoes and belt removed from me, humiliated and exposed naked before women (as the jailers had done to the captives held at Abu Graib and perhaps Guantanamo as depicted in those hideous pictures), beaten I struggled to maintain my balance after being slammed into the desk and seconds later against the wall of the small cell.
I slipped to the floor experiencing a horrendous vertigo drop attack ( triggered by both the blows to my head and chest) and remembering the medical advice given me, I tried to keep my eyes wide open and affixed on one object fully extending my arms and legs while purposely pinning my chest and stomach to the cement floor. My fists were squeezed so tightly that the nail from my forefinger cut into my palm. I stopped breathing through my nose and commenced inhaling heavily while my lips slapped together producing and spitting out saliva through my mouth. The tinnitus in my right ear screamed into my brain and the nausea began to rise. The medical advice given me was to hold on until it passed. Though during attacks a person is awake and aware, one remains almost paralyzed by the spinning. I could hear everything being spoken through my left ear, but could not speak. I heard when one guard said to the torturer, “look, somethin’s wrong with him”. And the torturer (perhaps feeling guilty) responded “Ahh he’s just fakin”. I heard yet another guard continuing with something about calling the paramedics. The torturer further responding “Ah f*ck him, he’s just faking”. With my head reeling, time slowed.
In what was probably shorter than what seemed like an hour, firemen and paramedics appeared. I heard the paramedics asking questions and the torturer still responding “bullshit, he’s just fakin it”. I could not respond and breathe at the same time. I remained in a fixed position as the spinning began to slow. I remember the paramedics asking questions, but I could not speak. I remember them trying to pick me up while I struggled to remain pinned to the ground waiting for it all to pass. As two of them pulled my hands and clenched fists down in an effort to raise me up I lunged towards the floor again while stretching out my arms, legs and clenched fists. My outstretched left fist hit the thigh of one of the paramedics and I remember him saying out loud. “This guy just punched me in the leg”. The torturer and his mate came rushing into the tiny cell and what seemed like ten people lifted me off the floor as I continued screaming “noooo”. After being body slammed onto a gurney, the torturer began to beat on my left thigh and ribs and either his mate or a paramedic began pummeling his fists into my right ribs.
When the last punch landed on my left ribs I could swear I felt them crack and gave out a loud yelp. A mask was put on my face because the torturer told the paramedics that I had been spitting at the guards, I kept breathing hard but each time I exhaled the pain to my ribcage seemed excruciating. When they finally got me into the ambulance one of the other paramedics asked me why I was holding my left side and complaining. I told him that I thought my ribs were broken. He just ignored me and began asking about my medications.
When I arrived at the hospital my head had stopped spinning, but the pain to my ribs was unbearable. My whole body felt drained as it often did following a vertigo attack. Upon being rolled into emergency I was not personally addressed about my pain or the painful clear audible sounds coming from deep in my throat with each breath. Both my arms were pinned to the metal rails by manacles and my feet shackled at the foot of the gurney.
Uniformed policemen lined up three or four abreast standing five to six feet from the foot of my gurney. As they began to address the nurse I turned up my left ear to note their accusations about me. One cop told the nurse that I was clearly intoxicated, as the other chimed in “yeah he’s inebriated-crazy” Another joined the crew with “he’s been spitting at us, acting combative, and he even punched one of the paramedics”. Yet another joined the cast by repeating the words of the torturer “he ain’t sick, he’s just faking”.
The nurse turned to me, walked up to the gurney and asked “are you in pain?” adding where does it hurt”? Then repeating “do you have pain”? I took a long breath and in exhaling told her in low phrases that I had just been beaten, had suffered a vertigo attack, was then slammed onto a gurney, by the police. That I had a mask shoved on my face, and that I felt that my ribs were broken. She backed up staring at me and left as suddenly as she had appeared.
After my shirt was cut from my body I lay there for what seemed like hours listening to the men in uniform hovering at my feet. I looked at their faces as they laughed and poked fun at me. The movie Schindler’s List came to my mind. How Nazis had poked fun at a helpless Jew. How they gaffed and derived pleasure at listening to an old one handed Jew standing before them talking. I remember the chilling depraved smile on their faces just before they shot him. It was the cruel, cruel face of fascism. I also remember the faces of the hooded naked prisoners at Abu Graib.
The defiling of a Muslim man being made naked before women- it is not only a violation of civil rights but also human and religious rights. And I thought that I could not leave my life here- that I had to fight- that I had to speak. And so I did. I came to grips with the reality that my life would have to ride on the strength of my words.
When the doctor came and asked the nurse about the health and condition of “this patient” I chose to let go of my words. Again I took hold of my breath and pushed out the words that would only fall on deaf ears—“Doc, I just had a vertigo attack because I have Meniere’s disease”. Adding, “I was beaten at the police station, I need medication”. He merely looked down at my mask as though there were no person in it and said, “Look, you behave now, because you been fighting with the police and spitting on them, you’re intoxicated and you’re being combative. “Just relax and we’ll take care of you”.
I have seemingly always sought to keep my religion between me and my god. And began muttering under my breath to the great spirit- to the all compassionate God. I recited the El Fatijah (similar to the Lords’ Prayer) three times in Arabic and submitted to god Allah. Though my body screamed out for relief, my mind began to accept the oneness which all Muslims, spiritual Native Americans, and other true human beings understand and come to grips with in the midst of human suffering. Only the great spirit- only Allah could provide respite.
Several minutes later a medical-tech moved in close to me and pricked my vein for blood. I reacted to the sudden pain as a helpless animal reacts to pain and tried to curl my body. The uniforms snickered while enjoying the show.
My lips suddenly became dry from breathing through my mouth- I began to cry out for water. I asked the nurse, the doctor, the floor boy and even in my desperate condition begged the uniforms- but to no avail. Like all humans who have a belief that other humans can feel in their blood that one must come to the aid and rescue of another I delved into that last hope and again to no avail. It was as though care and compassion had been washed out of their being.
That they can joke and poke fun at a human being reduced to begging for water is in itself an act of violence. Reduced to repeating “wa… wa… waaaaa”….. That a medical doctor and staff can ignore repeated requests for life giving fluid, is heinous.
Suddenly the x-ray technician appeared and got his in also and scolded- “now I’m gonna take an x-ray of your left side so stay still and don’t act crazy”. I remember whispering to myself in order to save my breath and pain- “f*ck you”. But I stood still for the x-ray.
When the doctor returned, he brought with him a small cup of medicine and said “I’m giving you a cup of potassium because your heart is beating slowly”. I heard myself screaming out loud, “NOT POTASSIUM, NOOO!” I jerked my body toward my left handcuffed arm the better to stand the pain and screamed again “don’t give me potassium, I have Meniere’s Synnnnn” and my breath ran out. He merely looked down through me and said “fine, you’re refusing treatment, then threw the cup with medicine into the garbage can and walked away. I remember thinking how the internet manual had described the process in the ear canal causing Meniere’s along with vertigo attacks. It had explained that the syndrome is caused by the mixture of potassium fluids with the ear’s natural balance fluids thereby producing imbalance. Too much potassium could trigger a vertigo attack, but a dose of concentrated potassium would be like poison. However, I could not> explain, because he had not allowed me to; because he had only listened to the police accusations.
Later a paramedic appeared asking the policemen if I was to be held in custody. One cop replied: “he ain’t goin nowheres”. The paramedic then returned with, “Well you know he punched me in the leg and that oughta be good for another charge”. Listening to the accusatory words from a so called medical professional sent a cold chill down my spine. He was actually conspiring with them, to add more charges to an already unlawful arrest for a D.U.I. which had never occurred. So they all had a small meeting of the good ole boys club right there discussing how they would now charge me with battery on a paramedic. I received no medical treatment. Not for the vertigo attack, nor the pain in my left thigh and ribs-NOTHING. Except for the semblance of a cup of venom………
I remember sinking deeper and deeper into a feeling which I can imagine the victims of Abu Graib felt. My body just went limp in thinking of what they would do to me upon return to the jail. When the doctor returned again, he tried to talk to me but I chose to no longer respond.
Without a shirt they escorted me to a waiting patrol car and, amidst insults, I was then transported back to Hayward P.D. As I re-entered what I now consider to be torture chambers I could see the excited ecstatic glow on the torturer’s face. And for a second time he got to command -“hands on the two lines on the desk”. This time I didn’t care if my pants fell down or not- the violation and sin had been already committed.
The torturer pushed me into a freezing cell, threw me a paper shirt and a vomit stained thin blanket. He grimaced while saying something about “you get your very own cell, ha”.
I had heard and read about this kind of torture. It is called the meat locker. They give you a thin blanket, in order to sidestep the torture rules, and turn up the air conditioning until you suffer slowly for hours and into hypothermia. I huddled in the corner on the cold cement floor in a fetal position in order to get my entire body under the blanket.
Seemingly two hours passed and the one who still could not understand how an imbalance illness could keep a person from walking a straight line suddenly stood before the cell. He screamed my name. Almost four or five hours later, he’s still on the hustle for a breath test from me. He began to read things which I could not hear or answer to because of my high pitched tinnitus hearing produced by the attack along with the hindrance of the steel door now separating us. I was so confused, imbalanced, in pain, hungry and so cold that when he screamed something about the test, I simply responded “there’s no point and no hope”. Through the crack in the door I told him I wanted to speak to who ever was in charge because I needed medication.
What seemed like another hour went by and a lieutenant had someone open my cell. As I began to speak to her the torturer and three uniforms moved in too close for my comfort and I asked to speak to her alone. She responded in the negative adding that no matter what I had to say to her, “it would not change anything”. This response is in total contradiction to the ‘commendation and complaint procedures for members of the public’. I told her that I was injured and needed to make a phone call in order to notify my next of kin. She said I could have my phone call later. I was so unnerved and hurting that I just turned away, lay down and covered my freezing body with the foul alcohol smelling blanket. I covered my head in order to breathe the bit of warmth emanating from my body and held on.
Time passed, perhaps an hour or so, a Sergeant opened the cell door and hollered “Raul Estremera”. Twice I tried to get up, but the shooting pain in my leg and sides prevented me from doing so. I rolled over in such a way as to put all my weight on my right leg and foot then pushed up. I stumbled to the open cell door. The sergeant asked if I was all right and I answered “no”. He smiled and told me that he wanted for me to sign a citation so I could go home, other wise I would have to remain in “this cold cell” and see the judge in the morning. He added that he wanted to simply cite me out. I told him I would not sign anything until I was given a phone call and allowed to speak to an attorney- “To my brother who is an attorney and the head of the Santa Clara Legal Aid Society”. I heard a loud smirk from the torturer standing behind him who seemed to think everything I said was a hallucination of mine.
The sergeant stuck his outstretched palm at me and said” hey guy, I’m just trying to cite you out, and all you have to do is sign this citation”. I replied “cite me out from what? I was never told that I was under arrest, or read my rights, adding, “I don’t even know where the hell I’m at- because I’m not from here”. I continued. “I never received a phone call, to which I’m supposed to be entitled. “All I got was tortured by that prick there (pointing to the torturer) a beating and maltreatment in a hospital, and now you want to cite me out, bullshit”.
I now had the breath and heart to speak and continued with questions- “If you’re just going to cite me out and release me, then where is my vehicle?” He turned to the CO beside him asking” his vehicle is right outside, right?” Upon receiving an acquiescent answer from his subordinate, he
continued with “your vehicle has been released, and if you sign, you can go”.
Unconvinced, I replied to the sergeant with a question of my own “You mean I can take my vehicle and drive home?” When he answered in the affirmative, I further queried “so my keys are in my car, and I can leave this town?” “I think I’ll wait and talk directly to the judge in the morning and ask him directly how I could be charged with a DUI when I was pulled out of a restaurant while eating and not even driving a vehicle”.
I turned around and slowly sank back onto the cold concrete, covered my body and face and waited. I tried to sleep, but the cold, cold torturous air would not allow me. I held on, at least for two more hours- perhaps just one more-or what seemed like three. I reached the point when your body seems to beg for surrender, or when it screams for reprieve. Somehow you arrive at the hour when no matter what you do, your body begins to fight you by shutting down your sinuses and the numbing cold begins to gnaw at your toes and knees. You know it is the hour. You can choose to hold onto dignity, or you can accommodate your torturers and live to try and convince whomever that this cannot, indeed should not, be allowed in a so called free and democratic society……
I am no longer a young man and so my body demanded I crawl to the steel door, and I began slamming my palms into it. I pulled myself up to see through the small glassed window. The torturer suddenly appeared, then backed up under a hallway camera in order to be unseen as he closed four fingers into a fist leaving his middle finger sticking straight up. I peered into his shaitanic smiling face then dropped to the ground while reciting in Arabic “Ah wudu bilahi minash shaitan ihrajim, also adding, “Ashadu ahn lailaha ihlala- Ahshadu ahna Muhamadan Rahsululah” (there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger). My mind wandered to a time where everything stood still. Where you could see things in wonderment, - my life! I saw the face of my children and their children’s children, and the colors of dazzling light. I began to mentally venture into memories of the many events which I have attended, spoken at, and recited poetry.
I seemed to be going over many things in my mind, including how I arrived at this entire situation. I remembered that before landing here I had been contacted a week prior to the planned rally and March. An invitation for me to attend and that I bring members of Hispanic groups. That we could perhaps help in providing security for the planned march and show a sense of harmony and solidarity between the black communities in Oakland and the much missing Mexican/Chicano and Latino presence. I was told that the previous rally had been marred by angry youth and who had not grasped a clear understanding of the wishes of the family of the slain young man. That we all had to come together in order to send a clear message that the coming year should serve to bring an end to this kind of evil-That the death of young men and women could not be tolerated anymore, whether by law enforcement or other right wing racist elements within that sphere.: that Abu Graib, along with the suffering in Iraq should not be allowed to be duplicated or be brought home onto U.S. soil. I had responded that I was kind of ill from Meniere’s, but that I was absolutely committed to help.
I had been driven to the rally by a member of one of the Latino groups and would be driven back. Upon arrival, all groups were apprised of their respective duties as Mayor Ron Dellums spoke in the background. They were apprised on crowd control and how to maintain order. I remember listening to the head of security and his presentation: “We are charged with not letting this get out of hand; with not letting marchers attack local people and merchants or their property.” I remembered being quite impressed.
ALL AT ONCE, THE GRINDING OF A METAL LOCK AND CREAKING STEEL DOOR, BROUGHT ME OUT OF MY MORIBUND TRANCE. I found myself looking up at a guard who asked me to stop being stubborn and for me to sign the citation. I crawled forward to him. I managed to stand by pushing my body up against the right side of the wall and listened. While flanked by a female guard he explained that in signing the citation I would not be admitting any guilt, only that I was promising to appear in court. He showed me the ‘ticket’ and the line disavowing any guilt. I could not read it without my glasses. I told him I would sign, but only if I could communicate with my next of kin, continuing to say that no one in my family knew where I was and that I was never permitted a telephone call. He went on to tell me that he would personally call my family and tell them to pick me up on my exit from the jail. My cold fingers picked at the pen from his hand and signed somewhere on the ticket.
As soon as I did this, he asked me to step out of the cell while informing that he would be moving me to a warm cell with a mattress and another blanket: A reprieve from torture by the stroke of a pen.
I followed his directions and walked out while holding to the length of the wall. Prior to entering the “warm” cell I gave him my home number and wife’s name. I sat on the mattress for several minutes and he returned telling me that he had communicated to my wife where I was and how to get there. I lay down and tried to sleep as my body seemed to slowly secrete the frost. Several hours passed and the increasing pain throughout my body coupled with the almost crippling tinnitus would not permit sleep. I tossed and turned for what seemed like hours. When my name was called, I tried standing but the sudden pain in my chest sort of pushed me back to the metal cot. I fought the pain in order to attain freedom. I stumbled out the cell slowly while holding on to the walls, which annoyed the new guard on duty. He pushed me into the small cell into which I had been thrown the previous night. He quickly gave me my property and wanted me to dress and leave quickly, but I could not. I decided to just hold on to my property in both my palms and arms and get the hell out of there but the growing pain in my chest would not permit me to move so fast. The out exit door clicked and opened electronically. I put my glasses on and turned to the left. The guard stuck out his finger in a directional gesture and shouted “move”. Another electronic click and I thought I was free.
I looked around for my family, leaned against the building and struggled to put my belt on. I began to walk the length of the building and each step seemed to produce more pain. My chest started to ache more and more with each step. I looked up at the sky and found myself saying “oh no, not now”. I lent myself to the belief that I was having a heart attack. I held on and continued taking steps while looking for my family to arrive. I reached the corner of the building and turned left, but no family. When I reached the middle of the building with the pain becoming unbearable, I chose to move closer to the building and opened the door while holding my chest. I took about ten painful steps toward the bullet proof glass partition but before reaching it held on to a tall wooden waist high partition. A black man sitting to my right called out to me with an accent of sorts. He asked if I was sick. I deciphered his accent to be French and spoke to him in this language while holding the left side of my chest. I said something like, “mon cour, Je suis tres mal repeating, and “tres mal”.
The man answered in a Haitian like dialect, then called out to the receptionist saying “I think this man is having a heart attack”, in a heightened voice “CALL AN AMBULANCE, PLEASE!”
The receptionist came out of the bulletproof shell followed by a plain clothed detective. I fell back into one of a row of three or four chairs in the lounge. The receptionist ran back into the glass shell to call an ambulance. The detective asked me if I suffered from heart disease. I told him I didn’t. About five minutes into more pain the doors swung open and a fireman moved towards me rapidly. He checked my pulse and took my blood pressure while asking me questions. “Have you ever had a heart attack before? Do you have heart trouble? Do you take medicine for heart disease?” I answered no to all his questions. But he continued-“Is the pain a throbbing pain? Show me with your finger where it hurts”. As I pointed, the receptionist returned and the doors swung open bringing ambulance paramedics. The female paramedic began taking my pulse as the fireman began to recite to them his evaluations of me.
The fireman then asked me my age and my name. Due to the pain, I whispered both answers. When he heard my name his smile seemed to twist into a grimace, his voice rising now “YOU WERE HERE LAST NITE!” and with an accusing tone and virtually screaming, he began to yell- “YOU WERE DRUNK AS A SKUNK , AND FIGHTING WITH THE POLICE BACK IN THE JAIL (pointing). “YOU REFUSED TO TALK TO THE PARAMEDICS WHEN THEY TRIED TO HELP BECAUSE YOU WERE INNIBRIATED”.
I held my chest and tried to answer him, but the pain was too great. So I turned to the paramedics and whispered “are you taking me to the hospital now?” The fireman would just not stop and continued berating me out loud- “YOU WERE DRUNK! ADMIT IT NOW! AND YOU EVEN PUNCHED MY PARAMEDIC!” “DIDN’T YOU, ADMIT IT, DIDN’T YOU”?
I could no longer hold to intercepting insults. I turned to my right and looked at him directly in an effort to address his abrasive accusations. I put my left hand over my heart, took a deep breath and shouted as loud as my lungs permitted- “THAT IS NOT WHAT HAPPENED! I HAD A DROP ATTACK BECAUSE I’M ILL WITH MENIERES SYNDROME. DO YOU KNOW WHAT MENIERES SYNDROME IS?” I inhaled deep and spat out- “DO YOU KNOW WHAT A VERTIGO ATTACK IS?” Taken aback for a second, he answered in a lower tone: “No?” I took control of my continuity, in this now very public argument, by breathing deeper, holding my chest and screaming back: “A VERTIGO ATTACK IS LIKE A SEIZURE WHERE A PERSON DROPS TO THE GROUND BECAUSE THE ROOM BEGINS SPINNING. HE HAS NO CONTROL OF IT. LAST NIGHT BEFORE YOUR PARAMEDIC SHOWED UP, MY HEAD HAD BEEN SLAMMED INTO A DESK, WHICH BROUGHT ABOUT THIS ATTACK. WHEN YOUR PARAMEDICS TRIED TO PICK ME UP, I HAD TRIED TO STRETCH OUT MY ARMS AND CLOSED FISTS, WHICH HIT YOUR PARAMEDIC IN THE THIGH AS THEY STUPIDLY TRIED TO PICK ME UP FROM THE GROUND”. “AS A PARAMEDIC, YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER THAN TO TRY AND PICK UP A PERSON WHO IS IN A SEIZURE STATE. YOU DO NOT AND CANNOT KNOW IF HE IS SEIZING OR HAVING A HEART ATTACK-ESPECIALLY IF THEY ARE NON RESPONSIVE. CAN YOU UNDERSTAND NOW WHAT A VERTIGO ATTACK IS? IF NOT, LOOK IT UP IN YOUR COMPUTER!” Adding, “I DID NOT HIT YOUR PARAMEDIC AND I’LL SEE HIM AND YOU IN COURT!” He looked at me somewhat puzzled and responded with: “Well he did say that you didn’t hit him hard”. And I felt that I had to get my last lick in and screamed back “NOBODY HAVING A VERTIGO ATTACK CAN PUNCH ANYBODY. DO YOU UNDERSTAND NOW!!! I turned to the paramedics, while asking “Are you going to take me to the hospital now?”……..As they hustled me into the ambulance, the fireman walked up to the ambulance and said to me “good luck man”.
After taking my vitals and a long stay at the Emergency room a nurse continued to convey messages to me from the so called attending doctor. She returned saying that the doctor felt that my vitals showed no sign of a heart attack and asked if I had somehow been hit in my chest, and I remembered how the torturer had slammed my chest into the high desk last night. Indeed accompanying my present heartache was the hurting which I felt on both sides of my ribs and left thigh, and I told her so. She left to consult with the doctor.
I looked at the ceiling for what seemed like an hour and then closed my eyes. When I opened them, my wife was standing in front of me like a mirage of sorts. I held out my right hand to her saying “you found me, you found me”. As I wept in her arms she told me that at the police station no one would tell her where I was except for a tall black man who re-counted to her that the ambulance had taken me away. The nurse returned shortly after my wife’s arrival with some medication and began injecting it into my I.V. Somewhat distracted by conveying to my wife the horrors of the forth night I turned to the R.N. and asked “What are you giving me?” She stopped injecting and said “morphine for the pain”.
My wife and I objected loudly screaming in unison “NO”. The nurse quickly pulled out the needle and asked “is he allergic to morphine?”
My wife began to explain that morphine would make me feel worse because of the “Meniere’s”. That it might throw me into another Vertigo attack. My wife became unforgiving and began to admonish her, especially after hearing from me how the medical staff would not listen to me the night before. She demanded to see the doctor immediately. Twenty minutes later she was yelling at the doctor and accusing her of knowing fully well and how the police had beaten me the night before. I stood there watching the doctor squirm and avoiding saying that she knew of the purported beating, while making excuses that I could very well be on the onset of a heart attack. My wife was adamant and again yelled to her “ you know his heart is strong and you read the reports from last night and you know the police beat him, I mean his whole body is hurting from the beating and not just his heart. “YOU’VE HEARD HIS COMPLAINTS ABOUT PAIN IN MANY PARTS OF HIS BODY AND NOT JUST HIS HEART. YOU’RE JUST TRYING TO COVER IT UP”. I watched the doctor act in the same way the fire fighter and other service and medical personnel had acted. The Asian female doctor kept telling my wife that she had ordered an MRI dye type of test in order to check my heart arteries and valves, but my wife just looked straight through her. The doctor then said that the nurse would return shortly to take me to the MRI room and sped out of the room.
My wife turned to me and said “we are leaving here. I’m taking you to your own doctor because these people are just covering up for what they did to you last night”. She called for the nurse and outright told her that we were leaving, and for her to remove the I.V. The nurse replied to my wife that she would have to talk to the doctor so she could have me sign out against the advice of the doctor. My wife became infuriated and began yelling- “YOU TELL THE DOCTOR THAT WE’LL SIGN ANYTHING BECAUSE YOU PEOPLE ARE GOING TO KILL MY HUSBAND, IF I LEAVE HIM IN YOUR HANDS. pausing for air, then continuing- LOOK, LAST NIGHT YOUR PEOPLE TRIED TO GIVE HIM POTASSIUM, AND JUST NOW YOU GAVE HIM MORPHINE WITHOUT ASKING HIM IF HE WAS ALLERGIC TO IT, I WANT HIM OUT OF HERE BECAUSE HE HAS HIS OWN DOCTOR”
They would not let us go until we signed a paper outlining that I was leaving against the doctor’s advice. We waited another hour before they brought the necessary paperwork. My wife would not wait for nurses and immediately rolled me out into the parking lot in a hospital wheelchair. Once outside the hospital, my daughter wanted me to return to the Jail to pay the ransom and have my vehicle released, but I was in too much pain, so we would end up paying a larger ransom of almost $600.00 for its release the following day. My portable electric bullhorn found by us in the bed of the truck had been stepped on and broken.
Two days later, while still in pain I accompanied my wife and a friend and returned to the police station to get a complaint form for the internal affairs division and to the Wendy’s restaurant. Thereafter my wife and friend returned to the restaurant and spoke to two staff members and the manager looking for my cane, while I waited in the vehicle. The story they told corroborated mine, identifying me while describing my hand carved cane to a detail.
The following day I spoke to a sergeant from internal affairs and made the mistake of giving him my name and the number of the police report, as noted in the citation. Several days later when we tried to pay for a copy of the police report, we noticed the redhead reading something in the computer and were told that I could not be given the report because I was a suspect in it. We got the strange feeling that something was at hand.
The executive secretary of Legal Aid Society of Santa Clara was sent to retrieve the police report because one of their attorneys might represent me on the criminal aspect of this case. She was told outright that Legal Aid would have to subpoena the report through the courts. It seemed (at least to me) that Internal Affairs had warned the HPD that I would be filing against them.
This story was recorded to paper, amidst the clamoring of people to rallies and demonstrations by whole communities in reaction to the murder of Oscar Grant III. Also amid the revelation about a beating turned into murder committed by Captain Paulson who commanded the Internal Affairs
Division in Oakland (now fired), about whole groups of policemen “testalying” to judges and D.A.’s in order to obtain illegal search warrants. Written several months> after the Captain of Palo Alto was admonished for making racist statements publicly, and at the time when the Oakland police chief was “asked to resign”. Written at a time when U.S. district judge Thelton Henderson, has deemed the California prison medical care health system “Cruel and unusual punishment”. In essence it is written in the midst of newly revealed investigations prosecuting and removing policemen who broke the law by acting above the law. And the revelations continue surfacing a month after the new Commander in chief of this nation disavowed torture with a stroke of a pen- Supposedly making torture illegal. And the year 2009, designated as the year of change by millions in the majority who voted a new president into office who would promote this change seems to be changing the culture within law enforcement both nationally and internationally. Changing the myth of the infallible policeman seen on television, running amok and armed to the teeth with modern weapons to defend themselves from citizens.
We must speak and stand against those who think they are above the law- against torture and the viciousness -which we see policemen commit almost daily under the color of authority. And other policemen must do it also. Fight it, eradicate it. Just as today a killer missile can be named a peacekeeper missile, so can invaders be adorned as saviors: torturers seen as service providers and policemen regarded as infallible. Human beings clothed in any of one hundred uniforms are not infallible, and this includes the fine tailored suit. Indeed we are witnessing the passing of an administration who thought of themselves to be omnipotent administrators who lied to US ALL.
They passed laws that would permit torture and murder. Then made young people believe that these heinous crimes would be permissible while cloaked under uniforms of gallantry and patriotism. Crimes of murder, torture and genocide carried out by a collective of individuals are crimes against humanity. No matter how large the RAMPARTS division, as it were, or if it is carried out in the shadows by one policeman, while another watches, they are all guilty……….
Though I don’t agree with many of the policies of the new commander in chief of the nation I can understand when he says that “all of us must be involved”. Indeed his campaign and the millions of young people and elders who now stand up against wedge politics and racist shibboleths were reflected in the Oakland campaign of rallies and marches to send a clear message that we cannot continue to allow the murder of young persons of color to go unabated. That it can no longer be tolerated. It isn’t so much a campaign against the police as it is a campaign against the mindless gunslingers therein, or the torturous jailers who are allowed to do their deeds- if you manage to somehow get past the gunslingers with your life.
The Majority of Americans have said ENOUGH with the divisive politics of the Bush Administration and all that it wrought into the fabric of so called American life. Enough of the daily mass dosage of television and infallible policeman shows. There happen to be people in prison who don’t happen belong there- just as there are rotten apple policemen who also don’t belong there. The so called “honest” policemen who have been tainted by the rotten apples in law enforcement departments throughout the nation should have the courage to stand against them. Just as the largest majority of Americans stood up and voted for the most unlikely candidate supposedly because of the contents of his character. Administrators of these seedy characters should also have the courage to take a similar STAND. When policemen lie on legal forms, before juries: courts and before judges who entertain their lies, they damage law enforcement. Oakland residents may shortsidedly think that they only got rid of a worthless chief, but in effect they rid themselves of a professional traducer who, in effect, sold law enforcement short. It clearly highlights the danger in allowing policemen to police themselves.
As for the torturers in our jails: the other side of law enforcement. Why and how long should we put up with that small amount of torturers who derive pleasure from making human beings suffer in custody- as many did in Abu-Graib; in Guantanamo. As some of them do in Hayward, Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose, city jails. Why should acquiescent internal affairs units hesitate to bring cases against these people. Why would city attorneys, prosecutors, and so called law administrators continue to shield these persons.
Why should YOU, as a citizen also remain acquiescent? Let me perhaps put it another way- why would you remain silent now that all these myths about the INFALLIBLE, HUMANE POLICEMAN is coming unraveled, as it did in Oakland and other cities? I’ll tell you why--- “BECAUSE WE ARE NOT MACHINES. BECAUSE THERE IS SOMETHING INNOCENT- SOMETHING LIKE AN INFANT-DEEP INSIDE US ALL THAT WOULD NEVER ALOW A HUMAN BEING TO SUFFER IN WAYS WE WOULD NEVER PERMIT AN ANIMAL TO SUFFER.” Only those who carried out the Mi Lai massacre, the Holocaust, the enslavement and destruction of African American people in this country; who hung Mexicans and destroyed whole Native American tribes in what was then their own land are incapable of UNDERSTANDING THIS HUMAN PRINCIPLE…… So are some jailers in the Hayward jail. The question is should other policemen, prosecutors, even judges and citizens, city and county administrators protect them, close down the jail- OR FIRE THEM??????
In closing, as a civil member of humanity I would request that law enforcement be brought back under the direct control of its citizens. That so called Internal Affairs units throughout the nation resign immediately and let citizens investigate the horrors of the era gone by: of the torture, humiliation, harassment, unlawful incarceration, the racist attacks on persons of color, and murder of citizens. Whether by m-16’s or so called non-lethal weapons such as tasers and the like. Why should the people who are supposedly charged with our civil protection be armed militarily, when we already have a military.
On the personal end I want my cane returned, or its worth to me in thousands of dollars. Likewise I want a new megaphone. I want torturers in both the jail and St. Rose hospital fired. The same Justice should be visited on ill trained ambulance and firemen paramedics who cannot decipher an attack from a hangover. Also my ransom money payed for the release of my vehicle returned to me, along with my attorney’s fees. Moreover I want my dignity and compensation for the violation of my religious, civil and human rights, which were trampled upon when I was made nude against my will. I demand compensation for pain and suffering, for insult to injury-for being brutalized - falsely persecuted and prosecuted by law enforcement- and finally for being misdiagnosed by hospital staff while being denied treatment and harassed and berated by paramedics from Hayward city firemen and AMR paramedics. In the matter of filthy, vomit stained and non washed and non sanitized blankets being thrown and forced on inmates- This practice should cease immediately. The handling and use of said blankets can, and probably have made both inmates and guards ill. Pillows should be issued along with sanitized covers.
My name is Raul (Curly) Estremera, I am a great grandfather, and brother to all humanity……….Year 2009, THE YEAR OF CHANGE……..