“Quit faking.”


“Quit Faking”

While in custody at Brown County Jail, Circle Bear increasingly showed signs of methamphetamine overdose. She moaned in pain for hours, moving constantly in her cell. She also rocked back and forth continuously. Generally, Circle Bear acted agitated, anxious, and disoriented. But jail staff refused to attend to her complaints. At one point, Circle Bear even pressed an emergency button in her cell and complained about pain in her stomach. Instead of acting, the jail staff demonstrated complete disregard. They responded to her suffering by yelling back, “quit faking!” and “knock it off!” The staff even made comments such as “Oh Sarah … you always do this when you are in jail.” Despite the constant requests for help, the jail staff did not take any steps to assess Circle Bear’s physical state. In fact, not event vitals signs (blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, weight, or height) were taken.

The persistent assumption that Circle Bear was “faking it” recalls the treatment of 22 year old Yamatji-Nanda/Banjima woman Ms Dhu, in a Western Australian police cell, as documented in the case study ‘At a Lethal Intersection: the Killing of Ms Dhu (Australia)‘. Both women were seriously unwell however authorities refused to believe them, instead forming the racist opinion that they were disruptive and misbehaving, rather than genuinely in severe pain and requiring urgent medical care.


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