A Lutheran pastor from Madison suffered cardiac symptoms while in police custody on Friday, July 26, after being arrested in the Wisconsin Capitol during what Capitol Police deemed an “unlawful assembly” of the Solidarity Sing Along.
As the Rev. Carter Dary, 67, was being taken to the basement of the Capitol for processing, he began experiencing chest pain. Capitol Police placed a nitroglycerin capsule from Dary’s keychain in his hand without removing his handcuffs. (His hands were cuffed in front of him instead of behind him after he told officers he was having chest pain.) Patrick Knowles, who was also arrested, was with Dary at the time and said later, “I was told by someone released after me that they had to try three times to get his blood pressure. It is not known to me what his current condition is, but would characterize it by what I saw as grave. My prayers are with him.” Knowles provided this eyewitness account:
Dary was still hospitalized Saturday morning but was in stable and satisfactory condition.
This was not the first time that a peaceful dissenter experienced a medical emergency while handcuffed in police custody. Last September, disabled veteran Dawn Henke collapsed while being swarmed by police as she exited the building. A legislative aide to Rep. Mary Williams (R-Ladysmith) had pushed the newly installed panic button in her office when she heard singing in the hallway.
And earlier this week on Thursday, the police snatched away the crutch of a woman who is recovering from major hip surgery. As Frieda Schowalter was being arrested, she begged the police officer to return her crutch, giving out the name of her doctor for confirmation of her diagnosis. The officer ignored her request. According to Schowalter, in order to avoid sharp pain to her hip, she has to walk slowly, take small steps, and limit her weight bearing on one leg. She is very guarded in how she sets her foot down. She explained how she pleaded with the police to stop and listen to her, but they wouldn’t. Officer Calhoun informed her he was an EMT and dismissively said, “You’ll be fine.” He continued to march her downstairs to be processed, taking big steps and walking fast, according to Schowalter.
photo courtesy of Joe Brusky, Overpass Light Brigade
In a conversation with a friend, which was shared with WCMC, Pastor Dary said police were attentive and comforting after learning of his medical condition and called EMS and waited with him. He thinks tensions are high among officers due to stress of having to carry out orders from Police Chief David Erwin, whom he called a “Grade A coward.”
He would like to see officers start refusing to carry out orders they believe are unethical or violate the oath that police officers take.
Some observers believe that by conducting mass arrests of peaceful singers expressing political dissent in the Capitol, the Walker administration, through its heavy-handed police tactics, has at times displayed a disregard for people’s health.