After the January 28 arrests at Occupy Oakland, reports both confirmed and unconfirmed surfaced of various abuses and possible torture of those who were being held at Santa Rita Jail.
Natasha Lennard of Salon has an especially good article out detailing exactly what happened at Santa Rita. Three firsthand accounts are all confirmed by Occupy Oakland's media team, as well as the National Lawyers Guild.
“I am a person living with HIV and I was held for over 30 hours in Santa Rita and denied my prescription medications on multiple occasions by jail staff,” one 28-year-old arrestee told Salon via email, asking to remain anonymous as his family are currently unaware of his HIV status. “I know three others with HIV and many others with psychiatric prescriptions who were also held without being given their meds,” he added.
Carey Lamprecht of the National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter and Occupy Legal collective confirmed that “two HIV positive individuals were held without access to medication for over two days at Santa Rita jail.” Lamprecht added that one man who usually takes anti-retroviral drugs every four to six hours went without a dose for over two days and was unable to access a legal counsel for more than a day while detained, as the large number of arrestees were constantly moved around the jail.
Different individuals living with HIV face different risks from missing doses, depending on their T-Cell, viral load counts, anti-retroviral therapy regimens and other factors. The risk, especially for individuals with low T-Cell counts is that the virus mutates rapidly and can develop resistance to medication if doses are inconsistent. The young man who spoke to Salon said that although his T-cell counts are “in the healthy range … none of the guards or medical staff ascertained any of this information” to determine the relative risks of detainees going without medication.
“It felt like we had disappeared. Deputies often didn’t know where individuals were and wandered from cell block to cell block looking for individuals to process,” the man said. “On multiple occasions, my cell block mic checked the guards and led chants, demanding in one voice medicine, food, and other necessities like toilet paper and maxi pads.”
Be sure to read the entire piece here, for those incredible firsthand accounts, and without giving it all away...there's a wee bit of a triumphant ending to it all.