August 2, 2013 by Leslie Amsterdam and Rebecca Kemble
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.”
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/