Houston Police Run Over Striking Janitors with Horses

Houston police trampled on striking janitors with horses last night. The janitors make on average $20 a day with no health insurance.  The companies responsible?  Chevron.  And Hines Interest, the city's largest hometown building owner.

These people make on average $5.35 an hour.  With no health insurance.  That is frakking ridiculous.  It is wrong.  And when these workers protested peacefully, the Houston police department rode into a crowd with horses to intimidate and injure the workers.  It worked, as they arrested 44 workers and hurt 4 of them, including an 83 year old janitor.

I don't care if you don't like unions.  This is insane.  And if you are a politician reading this site, or a 2008 candidate, now's your chance to stand up and issue a strong statement condemning these actions and demanding that Chevron and Hines Interest pay these people responsibly.

Here's video.

Tags: Houston, Labor, SEIU (all tags)

Comments

50 Comments

Re: Houston Police Run Over Striking Janitors with

YouTube is probably the bane of law enforcement right now.

This is completely uncalled for. Trampling strikers with no health insurance with horses?

by PsiFighter37 2006-11-17 05:56PM | 0 recs
Suggestions for activism?

Also, apparently the Houston cops wanted to demonstrate that UCLA campus police had nothing on them.  

by bosdcla14 2006-11-17 05:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Houston Police Run Over Striking Janitors with

It's absolutely insane.  Aren't Houston police unionized?  Absolutely inexcusable behavior.

by Melissa Ryan 2006-11-17 05:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Houston Police Run Over Striking Janitors with

I've often wondered why traditional unions never seem to be interested in allying with the Fraternal Order of Police.  It seems like a potentially beneficial alliance for both sides.

by nanoboy 2006-11-17 06:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Houston Police Run Over Striking Janitors with

The cops may have a union, but that doesn't mean they aren't the paid bitches for the man. Unions should stay away from the cops, they are the people who not only crush union members with calvary as in these pics, but have been known to shoot them dead.

by Bob Brigham 2006-11-17 07:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Houston Police Run Over Striking Janitors with

But it doesn't have to be that way.  That labor treats them like an enemy could help maintain cops' status as enemies of labor.  They have a common ground to work from, so why not try to create an alliance?

by nanoboy 2006-11-18 04:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Houston Police Run Over Striking Janitors with

It is not correct to say that traditional unions aren't interested in allying with the FOP or the police in general.  As a union lawyer working with "traditional unions", I am familiar with ongoing efforts on the part of local unionis  to maintain good relationships with local police and their unions, and this is, at least sometimes, extremely important in picketing situations.  Houston is not a union town, to say the least, and my hunch is those unity efforts between police and the rest of organized labor are not to be found.

Incidentally, under long-standing federal labor law, the National Labor Relations Board will not certify a proposed collective bargaining unit that includes both guards and non-guards.  There is an inherent tension between private security personnel and non-security personnel, just as there is an inherent tension between workers serving in a police capacity and the general public.  

Let's not condemn all of those who serve in law enforcement; they are working people too.

by bslev22 2006-11-18 06:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Houston Police Run Over Striking Janitors with

You are absolutely right, this behavior is inexcusable. I am still in shock seeing these pictures... Are they even allowed to do that?

Maytag Parts

by gordman 2007-09-13 04:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Houston Police Run Over Striking Janitors with

Apparently they are allowed to do anything, except...to protect and serve. This kind of abuse makes me sick. Treating people like that must stop!

offtopic, about that "maytag parts" link, is that appliance parts site yours? Do you buy parts from maytag appliances as well? I have several broken maytag dishwashers that are actually quite new. Would your site buy the parts?

by Thomas Bennett 2007-09-20 04:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Houston Police Run Over Striking Janitors with

This is awful.  I had an acquaintance in Boston who got clubbed in the head by a mounted cop during an anti-Nazi protest.  (The Nazis were going to disrupt a holocost memorial service.)  The Nazis were protected, and the anti-Nazis were clubbed.  Go figure.

By the way, I do tend to read a lot about war, ancient and modern, and against anyone mounted, it is best to form into tight groups.  Horses resist charging into tight masses.  (It helps if you have spears, but that would probably be a felony.)

by nanoboy 2006-11-17 06:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Houston Police Run Over Striking Janitors with

jesus christ!  what's next?  are the pinkertons going to be revived?

by JJCPA 2006-11-17 06:07PM | 0 recs
Authoritarians gone wild.

Once torture is sanctioned by the authorities, anything else seems like small potatoes to some.

by One Hand Clapping 2006-11-17 06:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Authoritarians gone wild.

I am wondering if what we are seeing is the start of a crackdown in this country.

by robliberal 2006-11-17 07:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Authoritarians gone wild.

I'm not a big "to the barricades" guy, but I think it's been underway for some time, focused largely at the anti-globalization movement and some political protests.

by jsw 2006-11-17 08:23PM | 0 recs
We are to blame for this

Not us personally. But collectively as a nation, we have let to many incidents pass by without enough outrage.We had a kid younger than a teenager tasered. Now we got the UCLA and the strike incident.

I was surprised by the lack of outrage towards the UCLA incident on this blog. We got a million diaries on trivial stuff, at times, but we just had one diary on this , and the one diary had 3 or 4 responses at best. The UCLA Bruin had a scathing editorial on the incident, but the outrage was not as severe as it should have been even at UCLA. The paper online edition had one opinion writer saying the guy deserved it and no one to counter that guy. It's like they had to bend backwards to give it balance. The guy couldn't even counter a single point made in the editorial.  Very few cared about it even on MYDD. Did any Democratic Party leaders even bother to condemn it? I don't care whether the student was a jerk or not, it should be a basic accepted principle that we do not taser unarmed students, even if he is committing an act of civil disobedience(whether you feel it is trivial or not) , especially 4 or 5 times in a row, not even giving the guy a chance to recover. We had maybe 3 comments about it in two days?

The news really didn't talk about it that much. I think Olbermann gave it some space. This is a wakeup call.

Now we got this. If this group didn't have the word "union" in it, I wonder if many would be bother talking about it.

by Pravin 2006-11-17 06:24PM | 0 recs
Re: We are to blame for this

I had a diary on the UCLA torture at Wes Clark's CCN site today and got nearly 200 responses.

by robliberal 2006-11-17 07:14PM | 0 recs
Re: We are to blame for this

This guy has been publishing an excellent, in-depth series this week exposing this kind of police state behavior and the public support for it throughout our nation's history. Today's segment draws comparisons to A Clockwork Orange and how the most monstrously hostile and belligerent members of our youth are prime candidates for police hires.

I highly recommend reading the whole series started earlier this week, the man's writing style is the most cynically adroit prose I've seen in a while.
http://freedominourtime.blogspot.com/
(don't know him, never met him, just find his writing incredibly powerful and well researched).

by politc 2006-11-17 09:04PM | 0 recs
Re: We are to blame for this

Thanks man, I will look at it.

But it is disappointing at the low reaction level at UCLA and other campuses. I know it's the week before Thanksgiving, but why is there no bigger reaction? While some people did good to question the cops on the spot, I did find the student crowd on the spot to be a bunch of sheep. There were some cries of stop, but not enough. A lot of people just stared. If you cannot muster any passion to stop injustice as a teen, how pathetic are you going to be once you start a family?

Even if you believe in tasering certain individuals(I personally would condone it for IMMINENT self defense and NOTHING ELSE ), how can one say the UCLA guy deserved it? THe guy was UNARMED!!!! Geeez man. I wonder if some of these people so blase about this incident would feel if cops started tasering people for every little incident. The cops were CLEARLY in no danger. They outnumbered the guy four to one. Even after they tasered him, the student said he was going to leave. And they tasered him again.

Here is what I am going to propose in a diary I will write over the weekend:

  1. Let's taser every fucking anti abortion protestor.
  2. Let's taser every single person who breaks a traffic law.
  3. Someone should have tasered Cheney when he accidentally shot his friend.
  4. When some guy fights with his subdivision over some silly zoning code, and stands his ground when the cops try to remove the american flag on that oversized pole in his yard, taser him. Oh, he was uncooperative. Good enough reason I guess.
  5. All those college crowds that invade fields after football games? Taser those motherfuckas. They deserved it, right since they broke the rules of not invading the field.
  6. Taser every single drunk person who acts like a jerk and rfuses to leave a bar that very second when told to do so.
  7. You want to complain to customer service about some return and refuse to leave the premises? Taser that fucker.
  8. All you anti evolution protestors outside schools. If one of you breaks the law even a tad, taser your ass.

by Pravin 2006-11-17 10:47PM | 0 recs
Re: We are to blame for this

I agree tasering has enabled bully cops to act out their sadistic authoritarian bent without consequence, but don't support a movement for all out tasering every damn thing that happens, even if it's meant to teach us a lesson about granting police too many powers over our behavior.

Someone on dkos proposed that for every discharge of a taser on a civilian, a randomly selected cop in the same department must also submit to tasering within a certain period after the incident, in effect causing the officer to realize "I'm doing this for your own good but it hurts me as much as it hurts you."  Seemed like a good idea to me but didn't go over so well with the gang there.

I've often wondered how long it would be before street thugs armed themselves with tasers and started using them pre-emptively on cops (or anybody else for that matter), since they're legal for civilians. They're not easy to obtain first of all, but the idea of equalizing the playing field does have its appeal.

Your item #2 was already shockingly demonstrated in Aaron Russo's Freedom to Fascism film, which I also highly recommend. The full-length film is free on google video: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid= -4312730277175242198&hl=en

by politc 2006-11-18 12:44AM | 0 recs
Re: We are to blame for this

Didn't read the responses at Kos, but in a sociology course I took on deviant organizational behavior, we learned that shocking/hurting someone as part of their training RAISED the likelihood that they would then go on to harm/shock persons in their care.

You are desensitizing them in many ways.  The standard way the taser training is done doesn't help either.  A police recruit is tased, but in front of all the other recruits, so that an "it was nothing" macho front had to be kept up.  

It also brings an air of superiority to the taserer over the taseree.  "I withstood this and could handle the pain.  You cannot, therefore you are weak and worthless.  Unlike me."

The most effective thing I've found to say to people is that a judge wouldn't be allowed to sentence a child molester to being tased as punishment.  Why are police allowed to tase anyone they want without oversight or accountability?

Note: this issue is very personal for me.  My husband has a seizure disorder and has been beaten by the police and almost shot for basically staggering around and drooling.

by NotThatMo 2006-11-18 05:08PM | 0 recs
kudos for front paging this story

and putting these pictures right where the nation, and some folks in DC, can have a chance to see them and think long and hard about how far our nation has bent over backward to corporations.

Do the Houston Police view these janitors as human beings?  Apparently not.

Corporate reform starts here: with workers.

by kid oakland 2006-11-17 06:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Houston Police Run Over Striking Janitors with

You're either with us or against us. You're either a torture-loving patriot or a terrorist-coddling wuss. Now get out there and taser and trample and waterboard! Go go go!

by billybob 2006-11-17 06:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Houston Police Run Over Striking Janitors with

These fuckers should not only be fired, but sued individually. They deserve to lose their pensions, their houses, and their future...it is the only way justice will prevail.

If any of these assholes had a sense of decency, they would have been sucking on their service revolver hours ago.

by Bob Brigham 2006-11-17 06:49PM | 0 recs
Post-Election Wave Of Police Violence Exposed

Police violence is far more common than most people realize.  The wave of exposures is quite welcome.

It's always hard to tell if there is more violence happening in a timeframe, or simply more exposure.  But it is interesting to note the wave of exposures, regardless of the underlying reason.  The import should still be the same: elections are very important, but they are only one facet of the ongoing struggle for social justice.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-11-17 06:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Houston Police Run Over Striking Janitors with

What I don't understand is why the Houston and UCLA incidents cannot be prosecuted as criminal actions. Injuring an 83 year old with a horse and multiple tasering of a student would appear to be criminal acts to me.

by robliberal 2006-11-17 07:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Houston Police Run Over Striking Janitors with

DA's won't prosecute, and juries are loathe to convict cops on criminal charges.  Remeber the guy in NYC that got sodomized with a toilet plunger?  Or the guy Springsteen wrote "American Skin (41 Shots)" about.  Neither of those resulted in criminal charges.  The only recourse seems to be a civil suit.  Even then it doesn't hurt the cops because it is the city that pays.

by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2006-11-17 07:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Houston Police Run Over Striking Janitors with

The failure to prosecute police for clearly criminal actions has a corrosive effect on the entire justice system.  Images like this make it impossible to trust the police when one's time for jury duty comes around.

There are a few reforms I would like to see:

1) Mandatory termination of police officers for filing one false report.  This would discourage officers from covering up misconduct of fellow officers.

2) Investigations of misconduct done by a separate body from the police or other law enforcement.  Having the police department investigate it's own officers for misconduct is like having Enron check it own books.

3) Pay for police management tied hitting targets for lowering payouts in civil suits.

by Monkey In Chief 2006-11-17 10:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Houston Police Run Over Striking Janitors with

Coorporations are greedy, heartless pigs.  

by vwcat 2006-11-17 10:06PM | 0 recs
Civil Suit

Wow. Humanity has gone out the window. Thanks Bush. All anyone seems to understand is money, and a severe loss of it for human rights violations might be the wake up call that's' needed.

by spicybite 2006-11-18 03:57AM | 0 recs
Math please?

I am just as fucking outraged as anyone. I am pro-union to the core. But the wingnuts will just be laughing when they read this.

" The janitors make on average $20 a day with no health insurance.  The companies responsible?  Chevron.  And Hines Interest, the city's largest hometown building owner.

These people make on average $5.35 an hour."

Okay. Take these two statements together and it tells me that the average janitor works 3.75 hours a day ($20/$5.35). Somehow I doubt that is the median work day. Or I could take the "$20 a day" seriously and come up with $2.50 an hour based on a 8 hour day. Which in most cases would be literally a federal crime.

Look if you were to tell me that the average janitor working a 40 hour week was only grossing $214 a week or $10700 a year I would agree that it was an outrage ($5.35 X 40 X 52). But at least get the numbers straight. This isn't the econoblogs here but either we need some basic numeracy, some better editing, more context for these numbers or some combination of all three.

by Bruce Webb 2006-11-18 04:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Math please?

They work part time.

Janitors usually work at night.

by nanorich 2006-11-18 04:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Math please?

More information on Janitors for Justice and the Houston protests....

as well as information on shift work.

http://www.houstonjanitors.org/wages/

by nanorich 2006-11-18 04:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Math please?

Thanks for the link.

Look I am all for a living wage. As far as I am concerned Ivy League students are doing the right thing protesting that maintence staff should get paid real wages for what they do. But anyone who suggests that the fact that a 20 hour work week is not enough to "put food on your family" (in Bush's immortal words) is a reason for outrage needs to wake up.

I am all for universal health care. I am totally opposed to police using horses to trample workers on the behalf of corporations. For that matter I regard the replacement of the 48+ hour week with the five day 40 hour week as one of the triumphs of the American Labor movement.

But here is a hint. If your only employment is a 5 day 4 hour a night janitorial job, get another job. And if your combined wage for working 40 hours a week doesn't allow you to house and feed your family and doesn't give you basic medical care, then welcome to the working class struggle. We'll march shoulder to shoulder in our battle to get economic justice from the Man.

But if your story is "Man I have a hard time making rent working 18 hours a week at Blockbusters" well you can cry me a river.

The outrage is the $5.34/hour. We're working on that. That a 20 hour a week job doesn't come with a full benefit package? Not so much.

by Bruce Webb 2006-11-18 07:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Math please?

I did not read all of the posts but I would be surprised if anyone is seriously arguing that if  you have an 18 hour per week job at Blockbusters then, all things equal, you cannot get another job.  

I think we're in agreement, however, that the proliferation of part-time jobs with no benefits doesn't bode well for American working people, even most American working people who I would submit will work two or even three part-time jobs to pay the rent.  But the fact is that part-time jobs and more and more full-time jobs are not providing American workers with basic medical care.

Now, there are many employers (like a Walmart for example) that I would say can afford to provide better health benefits to their workers.  But there are more and more employers that are having a harder and harder time providing decent medical care.  Gosh, this is the principal focus of just about all collective bargaining going on in this country and it's a genuinely difficult issue.

That's why I submit the focus has to be on how Congress can step in and de-privatize basic medical care to an appropriate extent.  The time has come to address this issue.

by bslev22 2006-11-18 08:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Math please?

An eighteen hour job at Blockbuster, is not the same as being part of a janitoral crew in office building...

and whatever you are for...perhaps someone day you will work in the office where people you will never meet will slave over cleaning up your messes....

and you go about your business saying what you are for or against, while adults with families struggle to stay alive...

living hand to mouth...with no little hope of having one tenth of what you have.

by nanorich 2006-11-18 08:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Math please?

And here is another hint...

these people often work two or three minimum wage jobs.

Or they are single mothers with children who work nights just to put food in their kid's mouths.  Cleaning up your messes should be worth more than five bucks an hour for hard work.

Every tried to get daycare on minimum wage?

It is easy to say that people who don't have your advantages shouldn't have children.  

Or they should pull themselves up by their bootstraps like you....

but frankly, the contempt for the poor exhibited by your message belies the fact that the callous attitude expressed by people without an ounce of empathy for hardworking people looking to break the cycle of poverty.

by nanorich 2006-11-18 08:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Math please?

Nanorich:

I trust you aren't directing your ire at my post, because I am not contesting your basic premise about the economic realities of being a janitor.  My point was simply that at the macro level the issue of basic health care is not being adequately addressed in the private sector, even in the collective bargaining environment, where I serve as a union lawyer.  

by bslev22 2006-11-18 08:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Math please?

Nope, not talking to you....

however, if you look at the successes of Janitors for Justice in other cities, you will find that unionized workers in the service industries seem to be scraping by a little better where they ARE allowed by union rules to work fulltime...and given minimum benefits.

The world didn't collapse when Janitors for Justice won their fight in Los Angeles.

by nanorich 2006-11-18 08:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Math please?

Amen to that my friend. No arguments about the merits of unionization from here!  

by bslev22 2006-11-18 08:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Math please?

http://www.seiu1877.org/articles/article .cfm?ID=3660

>2000
>In January thousands of janitors in Los Angeles County secure fully family health care benefits, per their 1995 contract. By February. janitors in Los Angeles begin contract talks for a new master contract. The contract expires on March 31 and talks stall as contractors propose to cut wages. On April 3, janitors vote to walkout on strike, the first countywide strike in 20 years. On April 24, after an intense three week strike that secured the largest wage increases for L.A. County janitors in decades, janitors vote overwhelmingly to accept a new three-year contract proposal. In May, janitors in Orange County begin to organize. There are nearly 3000 janitors cleaning hi-rises and office parks in the county. Despite working for may of the same cleaning companies that are unionized in other cities, including Los Angeles and San Diego, janitors in Orange County earn wages that keep them below the poverty line and receive no health care benefits.

by nanorich 2006-11-18 08:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Houston Police

Houston cops today are just like Chicago cops in the 60s.

Bunch of thugs and bullies.

by Bush Bites 2006-11-18 05:10AM | 0 recs
Houston Police: always been thugs

I visited my brother back in the 80s when he was a cop working for the Beaumont PD (south of Houston) and the outrage of the day was a story about the Houston cops taking a hispanic guy down to the river, and still in handcuffs throwing him in and then leaving him to drown.

My brother said that was bullshit. Not because Houston cops would not throw a hispanic guy into the river and leave him to drown but because they had to provide their own handcuffs out of their own paychecks.  In their frame of reference leaving perfectly good handcuffs on the guy was just throwing good money away after bad.

Nothing I have read since has led me to elevate my opinion of the Houston PD.

by Bruce Webb 2006-11-18 07:59AM | 0 recs
Re: black eye for Houston

grandstanding republican DA in Houston last night requested bail of $888,888 for each of the 44 peaceful protestors arrested in the horse trampling incident. that's a combined $39 million and change. the janitors were accused of class b misdemeanors - normal bond rate is $500. a guy recently chared with murder in Houston had bail set at only $30,000!

http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/061117/nyf13 0.html?.v=5

Houston law enforcement showing true colors.

Will working people get pushed farther into poverty or will they get a real opportunity to reach the american dream

by a2thek 2006-11-18 06:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Houston Police Run Over Striking Janitors with

wow

by dena1347 2006-11-18 08:59AM | 0 recs
How to stop police on horseback

Horses will not advance on protestors who are carrying open flame. Torches are preferrable, must be large enough to catch the horses attention.

by lynfidel 2006-11-18 10:47AM | 0 recs
Same thing happened during the Halliburton protest

last year.  Mounted officers charged through their own barricades after people on foot, claiming they had been "assaulted".

A public hearing on the matter was, naturally, a whitewash.

The Harris County DA set bail for the protestors at $888,888 each, or a total of $39.1 million.  This compares with a recent murder arraignment bail of $30,000.

Did I mention that every single judge in Harris County is a Republican?

Houston is the belly of the GOP beast, folks.  And I oughta know.

by PDiddie 2006-11-18 11:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Houston Police Run Over Striking Janitors with

I'm so old, I remember when this sort of thing would be the lead story on the network news.

by Alice Marshall 2006-11-18 11:42AM | 0 recs
Horses as weapons

It takes a special kind of person to trample another human being with a horse.

by Kodjoe 2006-11-20 09:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Houston Police Run Over Striking Janitors with

This is outraging: janitors are not some things as frigidaire parts, they are human beings for God's sake. The police has crossed over the limit of humanity, they should be fired and never hired in the police ever again.

by tiberiu 2008-02-06 07:46AM | 0 recs
by 3gmobile 2008-04-10 10:34PM | 0 recs

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