17 October 2014

CLEVELAND -- The woman arrested and accused of assaulting police officers after hanging World Can't Wait posters in Cleveland Heights January 28 was arraigned in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court February 16.

Carol Fisher, 53, a resident of the inner-ring suburb known for its liberalism was charged with two counts of assaulting Cleveland Heights police officers Daniel Downey and Mike Frinzl.

According to her statements, Fisher was hanging posters announcing the World Can't Wait Cleveland action during the State of the Union, when a passing officer told her it was a $100 fine if she didn't take it down.

Fisher turned and walked toward the poster, in compliance with the officer's warning.  But instead of allowing her to take it down or just issuing a citation, Downey and Frinzl were on top of her "grinding his knee into [Fisher's] back and [her] face into the sidewalk."

Fisher said she told the officers she could not breathe.  That didn't matter.  Two more officers showed up, and they dragged her to a bench, shackled her legs, and handcuffed her tight enough to cause serious bruising.

Fisher objected to her arrest, telling the officers that "as citizens we have the responsibility to stop the crimes of the Bush regime."

According to her statements, this inflamed the officers.  One told her, "I am sick of this anti-Bush shit," and they threatened to kill her.  "You are definitely going to the psych ward," said another.  And that's where she ended up, incommunicado, even to her Power of Attorney for health care.  University Hospitals personnel were forbidden by the police to allow visitors or for Fisher to make a phone call.

Fisher appeared before Judge Kathleen Sutula http://www.cuyahogacounty.us/common/Judges/sutulak.htm , a Republican known throughout legal circles for her partisanship and contempt for defendants.  She was flanked by her attorneys, Daniel Shields and Terry Gilbert.

A copy of the indictment was not given to Fisher or her counsel until that morning.  Ohio law requires that service be made at least 24 hours prior to the arraignment.

Shields waived the 24 hour notice and entered a plea of "not guilty" on behalf of his client.

Prior to Sutula's entrance into the courtroom, Gilbert had an altercation with Assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor Deborah Naiman, who is not assigned to Fisher's case.

In an obvious attempt to show power, and a signal that the case is a priority, Naiman badgered Gilbert across the courtroom.

"What city was this?" Naiman, out of her seat, walking toward Gilbert shouted, "You know and everyone knows it's against the law to hang posters there. And it's Cleveland Heights.  Not exactly known as a hotbed of Bush support."

"And that's not what you do to police," Naiman continued. "You don't attack police when they are trying to arrest you."

Remaining seated, Gilbert maintained his client's innocence and suggested that the facts will come out in court.

But Naiman's enthusiasm for the hard line against Fisher is also suggested by case timelines.

The grand jury indicted Fisher February 6, eight days after the arrest.

Felony indictments of this type in Cuyahoga County generally take at least two months.

Sutula set Fisher's bond at $2,500.  Fisher was then taken into custody and held until her bond was processed.

The case is part of a larger growing problem.

Wearing a black t-shirt with mug shots of Bush, Cheney, and other cabinet members, saying "Wanted for war crimes," Fisher and half a dozen sign bearing World Can't Wait members held a press conference prior to the arraignment.

Fisher made it clear that she's not afraid to go to jail, and that her case is part of a bigger problem - the fascism creeping across the United States. At every opportunity, she pointed to the need to drive out the Bush regime.

Fisher said she's being prosecuted in order to intimidate others who stand up to the growing police state.

"I'm not a wildcat," said Fisher, "and I'm not crazy."  Both are references to statements put out by Cleveland Heights police.        Fisher kept the t-shirt on in court to the amusement of sheriff deputies.

"Judge Satula's not gonna like seeing that," they joked.   Vigorous defense promised

"The case should be tried in the courts," said Gilbert following the proceeding.

Gilbert said the city has not yet turned over any of the evidence they claim to have against Fisher, including witness and police statements.

Public Information requests were also made on the city by World Can't Wait on February 6.  To date, they have not responded to those, either.        Gilbert said he expects the evidence to show that the police overreacted in a matter that has serious First Amendment and political implications.

"It's the climate we're living in," said Gilbert.

The trial has been assigned to Judge Timothy McGinty http://www.cuyahogacounty.us/common/Judges/mcginty.htm .

No schedule has yet been set.

Eric Resnick is a member of World Can't Wait - Cleveland

Media coverage of the events included: The Plain Dealer  www.cleveland.com
The Sun Press  www.cleveland.com/sun/sunpress/
WKYC TV3  www.wkyc.com WEWS TV5  www.newsnet5.com
WJW TV8  www.fox8cleveland.com

The case, number 476577, docket can be seen at http://cpdocket.cuyahogacounty.us/cjisjs/servlet/cjis.urd/run/CMSW602