Will Williams Falls While In Police Custody At WI Capitol 8.1.13

August 2, 2013  by Leslie Amsterdam and Rebecca Kemble

Will Williams, longtime Madison peace activist and frequent noon hour singer at WI Capitol 7.31.13. Photo by Leslie Amsterdam

Will Williams, longtime Madison peace activist and frequent noon hour singer at WI Capitol 7.31.13. Photo by Leslie Amsterdam

Longtime Madison peace activist Will Williams, 70, was arrested for singing over the noon hour at the Wisconsin State Capitol on Thursday.  He fell on his back on a marble staircase en route to the basement police processing center while escorted by four Capitol police officers.  In a move that defied the most basic first-aid principle of not moving someone who has a potential back injury, officers spent several minutes helping the Vietnam vet to his feet on the slippery staircase, while Williams was still in handcuffs.

Eventually he was assisted to an elevator where he was moved to the basement processing area.  An ambulance then transported him to the local VA hospital for treatment.  He returned home to rest later that afternoon.

As Williams was being led to the elevator in obvious pain, he looked Capitol Police Lieutenant Bob Sloey in the eye and told him, “If you had left your damn blood in Vietnam you’d be  standing up for rights too instead of this bullshit.”

This episode marks the third time that an ambulance has transported an individual from the Capitol to a local hospital during the noon hour of singing protests and resulting arrests of dissenters, and the second time that the person transported suffered a medical emergency while in custody. The Lutheran minister Carter Dary was transported to the hospital on two separate occasions, but was only in police custody during one of the incidents.

Will Williams was featured in the award-winning documentary “The Good Soldier” which explores the personal dimensions of war as experienced by the soldiers themselves. In the film Williams talks about how over 40 years later he is still healing from the dehumanizing effects of being a trained killer for the U.S. government.

A mark of Williams’ enormous heart, he has been able to find the silver lining in his experiences: “Vietnam made me a better person, made me love people more. It made me understand that we are all one, one people throughout this earth.”

On Wednesday, Williams returned to the Capitol after being arrested Tuesday to deliver a letter from his providers at the VA hospital about his long term struggles with PTSD, resulting from his service in Vietnam. Williams’ health care providers informed the Capitol police of the PTSD diagnosis and instructed the Capitol police to treat him carefully should he be detained in their custody. Wisconsin State Senator Bob Jauch immediately delivered the contents of the letter to Capitol police.

In an interview on a local radio station this morning Williams stated, “Yesterday when I was arrested it was retaliation for that letter because I made that complaint to Senator Jauch. They were more aggressive. I wasn’t doing anything, I wasn’t even singing. I was standing there with my sign on my feet. I don’t know if I was pushed or what, my feet went out from under me.”

Williams indicated that he planned to sue the Capitol Police for their poor treatment of him and vowed, “I’ll be back at the capitol as soon as I’m able to. They can knock me down but they can’t keep me down.” He added, “I bled for those rights and I will not surrender to this administration.”

Vietnam veteran Will Williams falls on a marble staircase while handcuffed and under arrest by Capitol police. Photo by Alex Oberley

Vietnam veteran Will Williams falls on a marble staircase while handcuffed and under arrest by Capitol police. Photo by Alex Oberley

Will Williams arrested in WI Capitol 8.1.13 falls while handcuffed and under arrest in WI Capitol 8.1.13. Photo by Leslie Amsterdam

Will Williams arrested in WI Capitol 8.1.13 falls while handcuffed and under arrest in WI Capitol 8.1.13. Photo by Leslie  Amsterdam

Will Williams arrested in WI Capitol 8.1.13. He is escorted to the elevator for processing after falling on the marble steps while handcuffed in police custody. Photo by Leslie Amsterdam

Will Williams arrested in WI Capitol 8.1.13. He is escorted to the elevator for processing after falling on the marble steps while handcuffed in police custody. Photo by Leslie Amsterdam

Watch more video of this episode here:   and here: 
To donate to the legal defense fund to help defray legal costs for those arrested visit: http://solidaritysingalong.org/

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8 Comments on “Will Williams Falls While In Police Custody At WI Capitol 8.1.13”

  1. monte letourneau August 2, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

    One of the nicest guys I’ve ever met.

  2. Susan Fiore August 2, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    “Just following orders.” Defense statement of Holocaust concentration camp guards at Nuremberg trials.

  3. Kimberly Collins August 3, 2013 at 12:16 am #

    Mr. Williams is a hero. I hope he recovers fully from the injury to his back and is back at the Capitol SINGING and PROTESTING as is his right as an American – a right he FOUGHT for! These Tealiban thugs ought to be ashamed of themselves.

  4. Edward Kuharski August 3, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

    There are glaring problems with taking ANYONE down (or up) stairs while handcuffed.
    Citizens should be proactive in insisting that their policy is to NEVER walk a handcuffed person down a stair.

    Since the use of fire sprinkler systems has become widespread (following the MGM Grand fire) the primary source of injury and death in buildings has to do with falling incidents in using stairs. Using properly configured handrails is key to reducing falling incidents.

    The kinesthetics involved in walking up or down stairs is extremely complex, and people can be thrown off balance if the riser or tread dimensions vary by more than 3/8″ within a flight of stairs or if the handrail is not mounted and configured correctly. And, significantly, if they are pushed, bumped or contacted in any way while negotiating a flight of stairs. Not to mention being distracted, confused, frightened, disoriented or subject to sensory overload. All factors that increase the likelihood of a falling incident. And all of this is compounded for a person who is elderly, post-surgical, arthritic, impaired in their agility, strength or range of motion, limited in stamina, lung function, heart function, neurological function and more. The ADA requires that these limitations be accommodated in the design and operation of public facilities and workplaces.

    It is kind of obvious that if a person is handcuffed they cannot use the handrail. In addition their center of gravity and ability to ambulate normally are altered by being handcuffed, especially when handcuffed behind the back. And then there is the inability to do anything to break a fall and protect one’s head, neck, spine, chest, abdomen, knees, elbows or shoulders.

    As we saw with Will Williams’ fall, the four officers giving him the bum’s rush were not positioned nor strong enough to safely break his fall, AND they were at risk of injury themselves. OSHA would not approve. Just because they’re cops doesn’t mean they aren’t covered by OSHA regulations regarding worker safety.

    We don’t have to put up with this and we shouldn’t wait for the next preventable “accident” to happen.

  5. loveyourvote2 August 3, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

    There are glaring problems with taking ANYONE down (or up) stairs while handcuffed.
    Citizens should be proactive in insisting that the Capitol Police policy is to NEVER walk a handcuffed person down a stair.

    Since the use of fire sprinkler systems has become widespread (following the MGM Grand fire) the primary source of injury and death in buildings has to do with falling incidents in using stairs. Using properly configured handrails is key to reducing falling incidents.

    The kinesthetics involved in walking up or down stairs is extremely complex, and people can be thrown off balance if the riser or tread dimensions vary by more than 3/8″ within a flight of stairs or if the handrail is not mounted and configured correctly. And, significantly, if they are pushed, bumped or contacted in any way while negotiating a flight of stairs. Not to mention being distracted, confused, frightened, disoriented or subject to sensory overload. All factors that increase the likelihood of a falling incident. And all of this is compounded for a person who is elderly, post-surgical, arthritic, impaired in their agility, strength or range of motion, limited in stamina, lung function, heart function, neurological function and more. The ADA requires that these limitations be accommodated in public facilities and workplaces.

    It is kind of obvious that if a person is handcuffed they cannot use the handrail. In addition their center of gravity and ability to ambulate normally are altered by being handcuffed, especially when handcuffed behind the back. And then there is the inability to do anything to break a fall and protect one’s head, neck, spine, chest, abdomen, knees, elbows or shoulders.

    As we saw with Will Williams’ fall, the four officers giving him the bum’s rush were not positioned nor strong enough to safely break his fall, AND they were at risk of injury themselves. OSHA would not approve. Just because they’re cops doesn’t mean they aren’t covered by OSHA regulations regarding worker safety.

    We don’t have to put up with this and we shouldn’t wait for the next preventable “accident” to happen.

    • mary Carlucci August 3, 2013 at 8:00 pm #

      Shame on you !! The Capitol Police should be giving a good example to others & this is how you behave? God IS watching !

  6. skaska August 11, 2013 at 1:47 am #

    Any updates on Mr Williams. Is he doing ok. Did the police every apologize of how they treated this elderly Veteran? Is he filing a complaint against the Capitol police? (I hope he does)

    • wcmcoop August 11, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

      He is still sore but ok. He will be filing a complaint and most likely a lawsuit.

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