Sen. Elizabeth Warren Condemns 'Cruel' Treatment of Capitol Protesters Locked In Solitary Confinement

Chris Menahan
Apr. 20, 2021

Capitol protesters are being tortured, beaten, racially abused, locked in solitary confinement and held in indefinite detention and yet their GOP representatives are refusing to speak out in their defense.

In contrast, Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren -- who previously condemned the Capitol protesters as domestic terrorists -- is now speaking out and condemning the "cruel and psychologically damaging" abuse they're being subjected to by being locked in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day.

From Politico:
Jan. 6 defendants win unlikely Dem champions as they face harsh detainment

“Solitary confinement is a form of punishment that is cruel and psychologically damaging,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said.

04/19/2021 06:45 PM EDT

Sen. Elizabeth Warren fled the Capitol on Jan. 6 from a mob she later called domestic terrorists. Now she and another Senate Democratic leader are standing up for their attackers' rights as criminal defendants.

Most of the 300-plus people charged with participating in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot have been released while they await trial, but dozens of those deemed to be dangerous, flight risks or at high risk of obstructing justice were ordered held without bond. D.C. jail officials later determined that all Capitol detainees would be placed in so-called restrictive housing — a move billed as necessary to keep the defendants safe, as well as guards and other inmates. But that means 23-hour-a-day isolation for the accused, even before their trials begin.

And such treatment doesn't sit well with Warren or Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), two of the chamber's fiercest critics of solitary confinement.

“Solitary confinement is a form of punishment that is cruel and psychologically damaging,” Warren said in an interview. “And we’re talking about people who haven’t been convicted of anything yet.”

The Massachusetts Democrat, a member of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's leadership team, said that while some limited uses of solitary confinement are justified, she’s worried that law enforcement officials are deploying it to “punish” the Jan. 6 defendants or to “break them so that they will cooperate.”
Thank you, Sen. Warren.

You've now said more to defend the rights of these poor folks than the entire GOP establishment -- including Donald Trump who has shamelessly thrown his own die-hard supporters under the bus.
Her sentiments are shared by Durbin, who also chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and expressed surprise that all of the detained Jan. 6 defendants were being kept in so-called “restrictive housing.” [...]

But restrictive housing is a maximum-security designation, and the blanket designation for the Capitol defendants — which isn't expected to ease even if pandemic era restrictions do — is a notable decision for a large group of inmates who have yet to be tried for their alleged crimes.

[...] Warren and Durbin, of course, were also targets of the very rioters whom they’re now speaking up for. In fact, one detained defendant — Ronald Sandlin — is charged with being among the first to attempt to breach the Senate chamber, tangling with Capitol Police officers outside the gallery doors just as senators escaped to safety.

Sandlin recently read a statement in court describing the conditions he's being held in as “mental torture.”
Politico previously reported that defendant Ryan Samsel was "severely beaten" by DC correctional officers and is now "blind in one eye" and "has a skull fracture" and a "detached retina," according to his attorney.

Another defendant, 60-year-old Richard "Bigo" Barnett, who is being held in indefinite detention for daring to put his feet up on Pelosi's desk, was reportedly "tackled to the ground" by DC corrections officers who told him they "hate all white people."
“This is not normal. It’s not normal to isolate people and make them eat on their floor,” said Marty Tankleff, a defense attorney representing two detained defendants, Edward Lang and Dominic Pezzola.

Tankleff, who himself was imprisoned for nearly two decades on a murder conviction before his 2008 exoneration, urged other lawmakers who see the Jan. 6 defendants' conditions as unjust to contact him.

Attorneys for a slew of other accused rioters, meanwhile, say their clients' conditions have made it nearly impossible to conduct genuine attorney-client meetings. Two defendants have contracted Covid in the D.C. jail, and one, Ryan Samsel, claims he was beaten by a prison guard and left with permanent eye damage. That incident is under investigation, according to judges and federal authorities.

At a hearing last month, detained riot defendant Richard Barnett — charged in part for breaking into Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office and posing for a now-infamous picture with his feet on her office desk — lamented the conditions he is facing while awaiting trial.

“I’ve been here a long time. ... It’s not fair,” Barnett said. “You’re letting everyone else out. I need help.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland's DOJ has been letting Portland Antifa/BLM rioters off easy non-stop.

Equal treatment under the law is just a relic of the "white man's English jurisprudential culture" that Biden said has to be scrapped.
Others have lodged complaints about access to needed medication or health monitoring, prompting intervention from judges. One, Jacob Chansley, won a transfer to a prison in Alexandria, Va., after the D.C. jail said it was too onerous to provide him organic food that he argued was necessary to comport with his spiritual practice.

Some Jan. 6 defendants have contended that there is a racial component to their treatment: Most are white — some affiliated with white nationalist groups — while most D.C. inmates and prison guards are Black.

Judge Paul Friedman said last week that those concerns are “not necessarily illegitimate.”

“It may be that some of the people arrested on Jan. 6 are white supremacists” or that they’re perceived to be, he added.
What a despicable smear!

The majority of those arrested were down and out Americans struggling to survive after seeing their livelihoods destroyed by their own government!
But as the defendants' complaints grew, so did the involvement of federal district court judges in Washington. Judge Emmet Sullivan indicated last week that he planned to meet with D.C. Department of Corrections officials to discuss the Jan. 6 detainees' conditions.

Though he didn’t divulge the results of that meeting at a hearing this week, Sullivan notably encouraged one defendant’s attorney to seek his confinement in Georgia, where he was arrested. In that state, Sullivan noted, the accused wouldn’t necessarily be placed in solitary confinement by default.
Emmet Sullivan is the judge who ran Gen. Michael Flynn through the wringer.

The torture is going to continue so long as our cowardly and corrupt GOP leadership stays silent!

[Header image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0]

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