Target: Texas Governor Rick Perry
Goal: Demand justice for 72-year-old woman wrongfully arrested at a peaceful sit-in for women’s rights
On June 25, 2013 a 72-year-old woman, Martha Northington, was forcibly arrested while doing nothing more than sitting and attending Senator Wendy Davis’ now famous filibuster of the anti-abortion bill, Senate Bill 5.
The arrest was filmed by Austin resident Elizabeth Willman, and it is perfectly clear in the video that Northington was peacefully sitting and watching the proceedings when a state trooper approaches her from behind, rips at her arm to get her to stand up and drags her to the back of the courtroom, ignoring the fact that Northington says quite plainly “you’re hurting me.” The crowd begins to loudly protest such a blatant display of brutality against an elderly woman, but the officers roughly push her and then cuff her against a wall. She clearly says, “I will walk” when he manhandles her, yet he continues to push her until she trips on her way out. According to Willman, the same trooper had already been manhandling other women.
This incident shows a disturbing abuse of authority on the part of Texas State Troopers, especially when aimed against the elderly. These officers are headed by Governor Rick Perry and Lt. Governor David Dewhurst: the same men who claim to wish to “protect” women by blocking their access to safe and clean abortions in Texas. These are the men who are brutalizing women in the courts of Texas.
Northington was officially booked for assaulting an officer and resisting arrest, charges of which are clearly ridiculous after viewing the video evidence. Her charges were ultimately reduced, of course, but that doesn’t change the fact that she was removed from the courtroom under false pretenses.
It is the constitutional right of the people to peaceably assemble, yet more and more we are seeing innocent protesters arrested on trumped-up charges simply for exercising that right. Please sign this petition to let Governor Rick Perry know that the American people will not stand to have our rights taken away from us.
Dear Governor Perry,
If you think that you can continue to wage a war against women without any confrontation, you are sorely wrong. If you think that you can continue to try and take away women’s rights, you are also wrong.
To have your Texas State Troopers brutalize and wrongfully arrest an elderly woman while she peaceably assembled to protest a bill that would remove the right to a clean and safe abortion for millions of Texas women and girls is to take away her right to assemble and her right to free speech, but that is exactly what happened to Martha Northington during the June 25 filibuster of Senate Bill 5.
Please discipline the troopers responsible for this affront to liberty, and make a public apology for the shameful treatment of peaceful protesters under your watch. The American people will not stand for this injustice, and we will not stand for this continued violation of our rights.
[Your Name Here]
Image: Elizabeth Willman via rawstory.com