For as long as we have had some kind of mental health system, women who “behave incorrectly” have been ordered to undergo its treatments. At one time or another, feminists, suffragists, menopausal women, and women who question authority in any way have been sent to institutions so that they could recieve “help.” The latest woman to get such help is Carol Fisher of Cleveland. Fisher is on the staff of Revolution Books, and on January 28, while she was putting Bush Step Down posters on telephone polls in Cleveland Heights, she was ordered by a police officer to take them down or face a fine. When she complied, she was asked for her ID, which she did not have on her. He then grabbed her by the arm, pushed her against a store window, and knocked her face down onto the sidewalk. He was joined by another officer, and they both pressed their feet against her back until she could not breathe. Her chin was pressed down into the concrete; Fisher has osteoradionecrosis in her jaw from radiation treatments for cancer.
Fisher was handcuffed and shackled. During this time, Fisher yelled out to everyone who passed what the posters were about. One of the police officers then told her, Fisher says, to “Shut up or I will kill you! I am sick of this anti-Bush shit! You are definitely going to the psyche ward.”
She was then threatened some more and taken away in an EMS truck. At the hospital, Fisher was asked to undress in front of the police officers, which she refused to do. The officers refused to leave, so a nurse attempted to shield her while she undressed. Fisher says she was then cuffed to the bed, given an IV of some sort, and made to wait hours for a psychiatrist to interview her. By this time, members of her World Can’t Wait group were in the emergency room having a confrontation with the police, who refused to let them see Fisher. Someone called the news media, who never made an appearance.
Fisher was eventually released and sent home. On May 2, she went to court and was found guilty of two counts of felonious assault of two police officers. The prosecution’s “witnesses” had not seen the alleged assault; rather, they claimed that Fisher lacked respect for authority. It took a jury more than eight hours to find her guilty. According to a letter to the editor of The Free Press, the prosecution misquoted Fisher’s testimony and gave the jury incorrect information about the city’s arrestable offenses. When asked to clarify the law, the judge refused.
As part of the pre-sentencing procedure, the judge, Timothy McGinty, had Fisher undergo a state psychological exam. He had already surmised publicly that Fisher must be mentally unstable to resist arrest. McGinty then declared her “delusional,” and on May 9, ordered her to be incarcerated in a psychiatric unit of the Cuyahoga County Jail in downtown Cleveland, where she now sits and waits; she could face a three-year prison sentence. According to Mark Crispin Miller, who has spoken with Fisher by telephone, Fisher has also been placed on suicide watch, has had her eyeglasses taken from her, and–if she refuses to take the psych exam–she will be sent to North Coast Mental Institute for a 20-day evaluation.