#Justice4Ariel: Grant New Trial 4 Black Mother Wrongfully Arrested, Detained & Abused

#Justice4Ariel: Grant New Trial 4 Black Mother Wrongfully Arrested, Detained & Abused

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Racial Justice Coalition started this petition to IL State's Attorney Matthew Kwacala (R) and

We need your help. Ariel Harrison is a disabled black mother who is facing prison time.

Officer Gavin Steiger transported her to the jail after other officers accused her of drinking and driving - no breathalyzer or field sobriety tests were performed at the scene, during arrest or detainment.

Once at the McDonough County Jail, they proceeded to hold Ariel down and appeared to have been tased, at least 3-5 times until she was unconscious. Based on video evidence, Officer Steiger appeared to have put his knee on Ariel's head, neck and back. (Video) They left her unconscious body in a cold cell and sought no medical attention for her extensive injuries. 

When Ariel regained consciousness (after an undetermined length of time), she discovered that she was only in a tank top and her underwear. She was shaking, cold and scared. She  looked down at her legs in that moment, and she said they were green. She thought she was dying. She called out for help, and it took hours for someone to even acknowledge her existence.

Ariel was charged with a DUI and Assault of an Officer - for grabbing an officer's collar while she was being tased and fell unconscious - something entirely out of her control. Now Ariel is facing prison time.

You can donate to Ms. Harrison’s legal defense fund here. All funds raised will go to support Ms. Harrison's Appeal. 

Ariel's life matters.

This is not the only injustice at the hands of Officer Steiger. We demand that all charges against Ariel Harrison be dropped immediately, a FULL investigation of Officer Steiger and that he be taken off of the streets of Macomb immediately, and fired. 

Macomb Officer Gavin Steiger has been targeting Black women and their families for racial profiling, false arrest, police BRUTALITY, while putting lives needlessly at risk. He must be FIRED & investigated for domestic terrorism. (Sign the Petition)

#Justice4Ariel #TakeSteigerOffTheStreets #BlackLivesMatter #BlackDisabledLivesMatter

UPDATE:

SA Matt Kwacala excluded all the evidence of what happened in the jail, saying nothing to the public defender. Upon realizing the public defender hadn't reviewed the evidence, a new FOIA was filed, and the missing/excluded evidence was located. It shows a female jailor and two male staffers FORCIBLY STRIPPING A BLACK WOMAN NAKED. When the Public Defender was asked about why he hadn't received it, he wrote in an email that the SA claimed it had no bearing on the case.

The Public Defender received the evidence (finally) 18 months later after having already brought plea deals to the victim. She filed the new FOIA, and got the excluded evidence herself, which also appears exculpatory to the remaining charge (the arresting charges were dismissed for lack of evidence.)

The SA appears to have failed to inform the county board, Law and Legal Committee, nor any governing body about the egregious rights violations at the jail, despite having had, and suppressed, the evidence, thereby thwarting anyone else from seeing it, either. The fact that he ignored evidence of likely crimes against her must be investigated.

The SA holds tremendous power over a defendant in this community, as does the sheriff. Yet the County Board is told by both these conservative wh*te men the Board is to ignore it all and just turn over the budget to the sheriff and that they are not entitled to any more involvement.

The online petition to Investigate and Fire Macomb Police Officer Gavin Steiger is approaching 4,000 signatures.

BACKGROUND:

"If the sheriff’s department were to face legal action, Erlandson told The Voice after the February meeting that he believes the state’s attorney – not the Law & Legal Committee – would have the responsibility to respond.

McMeekan told The Voice in January that she had clarified to Erlandson that her request was not for a criminal investigation, but to put a discussion about concerns and questions on the functioning and administration of the Sheriff’s office and jail on the committee agenda in order to inform county officials and the public of concerns her organization was receiving. The Voice on Friday confirmed the exchange with Erlandson and asked why, after the clarification, he described McMeekan’s request to be put on the agenda as a request for a criminal investigation during the February meeting.

“I just felt it was the same topic,” he said, and reiterated that the committee doesn’t have oversight over operations or elected officials, just the resources."

Sources:

Law & Legal Committee discusses oversight, responsibility 
Board Member Mike Kirby discussing the silencing by Republicans on the County Board. 

Our attempt to get on the agenda for the Law and Legal Committee. https://www.democratic-women.org/mcdonough-countys-law-legal-committee/ 

Racial Justice Coalition visits the Law and Legal Committee "McMeekan said the group had received no response to its request last year for an investigation into procedures at the McDonough County Jail. She said the request was based on 'a possible case of police brutality.' The racial justice advocate related the case of a young woman whom she said had been tased, arrested, and left unconscious in a jail cell. McMeekan said, "A qualified medical professional should have been called in."

Source: https://www.mcdonoughvoice.com/story/news/local/2021/01/05/racial-justice-coalition-appeals-mcdonough-county-committee/6551220002/
The Department of Justice must investigate. In this one case, we have:

  • racial profiling
  • assumption of danger/assumption of criminality
  • abuse of power/brutality
  • false arrest/false pretext (initial charges were dropped)
  • repeated tasing in the back - head injury sustained while being
  • detained but NO DOCUMENTATION, NO MEDICAL CARE
  • brutally, forcefully stripped naked (under threat of more tasering) in jail by one female and two male employees - NOT DOCUMENTED AT ALL
  • medical care denied
  • mental health evaluation denied
  • falsification of records
  • withholding of evidence from the defense by the State's Attorney
    FOIA'd emails from Chief Barker to City Officials misrepresenting facts
  • failure to act (SA Kwacala suppressed the brutality/medical neglect
  • evidence from the press and did not report it to the authorities)
  • defense process/procedural irregularities (not receiving evidence)
  • human, civil, and constitutional rights violations

Woman alleges excessive force after being tased, losing consciousness in McDonough Co. Jail | June 3, 2021

A Black woman who was tased multiple times at the McDonough County Jail alleges law enforcement officers used excessive force and did not offer medical treatment after she lost consciousness and sustained injuries.

Ariel Harrison, now 31, was detained at the jail after being pulled over in October 2019.

Harrison faces four charges in the case, including felony aggravated fleeing, felony aggravated battery of a peace officer, resisting arrest and driving under the influence of alcohol.

She believes the incident was racially motivated and the actions of law enforcement officers constitute brutality.

“I see racism in it because they didn’t treat me as a human,” Harrison said.

McDonough County Sheriff Alleges that Activists took advantage of Black woman who now faces prison time | June 7, 2021

Sheriff Nicholas Petitgout said a Black woman found guilty on multiple charges in a 2019 case was taken advantage of by local activists and now faces prison time when she could have taken a plea deal.

Structural Racism in Macomb | June 10, 2021

From The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal to Black Lives Matter and the American Civil Liberties Union, there is today wide acknowledgment of the fact that the plea deal works to disenfranchise people of color, as well as poor people in general. While accepting a plea may allow a defendant to suffer a lesser criminal penalty, there is often permanent damage done, including the loss of the ability to find suitable employment, the loss of custody of children, and the loss of the right to vote. 

The plea deal is an instrument of white supremacy, one of many instruments that disguises its racist character behind a veneer of neutrality. In this context, we can call out as racist Sheriff Nick Petitgout’s claim that local activists took advantage of Ariel Harrison, rather than the local establishment that refused to let Harrison present video evidence and attempted to railroad her into a plea deal.

Petitgout not only dismisses the work of anti-racist organizations like the Democratic Women of McDonough County and the Racial Justice Coalition. He also projects his own culpability for Harrison’s treatment onto the very people trying to help her. He places activists in the role of outside instigators, a move which assumes Harrison's incapacity to make her own intelligent decisions.

What’s more, Petitgout’s accusations represent open retaliation, which should be investigated as possible obstruction of justice.

And then there’s the general silence from the Macomb community, including many of its so-called liberals, some of whom seem happier to vilify Democratic Women of McDonough County President, Heather McMeekan, than to support racial justice in our community, which she has tirelessly and bravely pursued for years.

Vapid yard signs, photo-ops, and touchy-feely “education” sessions cannot replace standing up and speaking out when injustice occurs. Ariel Harrison matters.

Merrill Cole

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Help other victims of racial injustice in McDonough County, Illinois: Demand an investigation into rights abuses: https://www.change.org/p/us-attorney-general-merrick-garland-doj-investigate-rights-abuses-in-mcdonough-county

0 have signed. Let’s get to 75,000!
At 75,000 signatures, this petition becomes one of the top signed on Change.org!