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Class Action Suit Filed Re Sexual Harrassment & Conditions for Women in Santa Rita Jail
by Terri Kay
Tuesday Nov 4th, 2014 4:33 PM
On Oct, 27, 2014, Anne Weills , noted civil rights activists, long time lawyer and resident of Oakland, and 3 other civil rights activists, Tova Fry, Alyssa Eisenberg and Mollie Costello and filed a class action lawsuit against Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern, alleging that Sheriff Ahern deprived plaintiff and other women who were incarcerated in Santa Rita jail “with the minimal civilized measure of life’s necessities, and have violated their basic human dignity and their right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.”
On February 13, 2014, members of the Justice 4 Alan Blueford Coalition were protesting at the State Building in Oakland. Anne Weills was there as a legal observer from the National Lawyers’ Guild. The protesters and Attorney Weills were arrested, driven to Santa Rita and placed in the custody of the Sheriff.

The sheriffs’ deputies demanded that the women take off their shirts in front of male deputies and other male prisoners. When Attorney Weills refused, considering the request to be sexual harassment, she was thrown into a solitary closet, denied access to a toilet. She and the other plaintiffs were then placed in severely overcrowded cells, which were filthy with feces, blood, urine, garbage and rotting food on the floors and walls. Women who were bleeding were denied feminine hygiene supplies.

Yolanda Huang, their attorney, and two of the plaintiffs spoke in the public comment section of the Alameda Board of Supervisors meeting on 10/28/14 to demand that the Board end sexual harassment and improve conditions at Santa Rita Jail. They had previously addressed the Supervisors last May,along with supporters of Nubia Bowe, at which time the Supervisors stated they would hold a special session on the matter. The session was never scheduled. (Note Nubia had been arrested by BART police and subjected to severe abuse when she was taken to Santa Rita.)

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