Federal Police Withhold Medicine, Murder Detainee

In the Globe today, Milton J. Valencia writes that a Brazilian national arrested on a deportation warrant died while in custody of federal agents Tuesday. Though local and Federal officers had been warned repeatedly that he had to have anti-seizure medication, they chose to ignore the warnings and deny him the medicine.

Edmar Alves Araujo, 34, of Milford, Massachusetts died a little after four in the afternoon.

I am reminded of a conversation in one of my book groups. We were discussing Iraq and the Middle East. One of the members was an Israeli who had served in the Israeli army, an older fellow, very intelligent, well-informed, a likeable guy. He was rattling on about the Palestinians and casually called them ‘rats’, echoing a remark of Ariel Sharon. He repeated the comment when questioned. I think most of us were a little stunned.

Thinking on it later, I wondered how he could now treat another people the same way the Nazis had treated the Jews. Before the war the Nazis demonized the Jews, propagandized them as sub-human, as rats, as evil feral creatures, and now here was this fellow doing the same to Palestinians.

And now comes Edmar Araujo, arrested on a traffic violation in Woonsocket, and handed over to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, and processed at the agency’s Office of Detention and Removal. Kind of sounds like a rat extermination business, eh?

Irene Araujo said her brother had lived in the United States  for more than five years. He had a 13-year-old son who lives in Italy, and he was working at a gas station and as a painter in Milford, she said, adding that he would send money to their 65-year-old mother in Brazil to help her pay bills.

Not exactly a rat, is he? Working stiff, working two jobs. Had a son. Had a sister. Had a mother. Had the misfortune to tangle with our oh-so-righteous cop system. Irene Araujo brought his medicine to Woonsocket Police headquarters immediately. The cops refused to accept the medicine or her plea.

According to Irene Araujo’s account, authorities told her that if her brother had a medical condition, he could inform them himself. She said that officers then ignored her repeated pleas that it was urgent.

Cops don’t listen to people they’ve arrested. Cops make assumptions. Cops live in arrogance. Some guy speaking busted English, some guy who’s not an American, some guy who violated our sacred borders to make a living. Wow, maybe we’ve got a terrorist here!

And here’s some of the mealy-mouth beginnings of a coverup:

A spokeswoman…for the [Federal] agency confirmed yesterday that Edmar Araujo died Tuesday while in federal custody. But she declined to comment on the family’s assertion that authorities were warned of Araujo’s epilepsy and his need for Gardenal, a phenobarbital-based drug that helps control seizures in epileptics.

The spokeswoman, Paula Grenier, could not say if any policy would prevent the transfer of medication to a detainee.

“The well-being of our detainees is of paramount concern,” she said.

Apparently that ‘paramount concern’ does not include being concerned about making sure that the guy going into seizures gets the medicine that you were told he desperately needed.

According to Grenier, state and federal authorities will look into Araujo’s death.

Uh-huh. Let’s see, the people who killed him are the people going to investigate who killed him. Sounds a lot like they’re taking lessons from the Republican crowd down in Washington.

Grenier said Araujo was being processed at the … agency’s office…in Providence when he showed signs of distress. She said emergency crews were notified and immigration officers attended to him until an ambulance arrived. He was pronounced dead at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence at 4:18 p.m.

The same immigration officers who refused him his medicine ‘attended’ to him. How? Maybe something like “Come on, you freak, quit screwing around. You immigrant rats are all alike.”

The dying guy couldn’t catch a break from the local Woonsocket cops or the Federal cops. He was dirt beneath their feet apparently.

He died not just because cops are arrogant, but because this country has decided that anyone who sneaks across our borders to work is less than human and should be treated as a rat, a cockroach, a creature.

Illegal immigrants may be a working subculture here, but they are human. The question becomes how much of their own humanity are Americans willing to give up to preserve their arrogance and their ignorance.

Edmar Araujo was one of many who have suffered similar mistreatment by local cops and ICE officers. The immigrant community will confirm that. He was, to all intents and purposes, murdered by a conspiracy of federal and local cops.

Of course the wingnuts on the right will righteously cry out “He was an illegal immigrant. It’s not our fault.”

Well, yes, he was an illegal immigrant. A human one at that, who worked two jobs, and did the best he could to make a living and take care of his family.

And as to fault, yeah, it is your fault. You’re the guys who demonize immigrants. You’re the guys pumping your chests and harumphing about America’s borders and America’s sanctity and all that bullcrap. You’re the guys who decided that as soon as someone crosses our borders, legally or illegally, they’re less than human. You’re the guys who, seventy years ago, made the Nazis such a success by doing the same things you’re doing today.

You’re the guys who have absolutely no clue about what America means, what it means to Americans, what America means to the world.

Perhaps I should say, what it meant to the world.


8 Responses

  1. Thanks for writing this. It was the first piece I found on Google after hearing about it on NPR. It’s good to know at least one other person is as bothered as I am. When did cruelty get to be such a virtue?


  2. Police is so arrogant that they cannot tell the difference between threat and a life saving appeal from the victims sister. This is totally ridiculous.


  3. I need to let people know a few things. Edmar was the kindest, most thoughtful person I knew. He was in this country to make money to help support his mother who was still in Brazil. His generosity didn’t stop with his mother. He would help anyone who needed help. He would take the sneakers off his feet to give to someone who needed them!! and I’ll tell you, he did just that. He would take the last dollar out of his pocket and give it to a stranger if they needed it. The response the cops gave to his sister when she tried to explain his condition is unbelievable. He was shackled like he was a killer!! WHY?? Because he didn’t have a green card? Isn’t this country supposed to be “The Melting Pot”? Wasn’t Everyone’s fore fathers an immigrant? I feel it is way out of control the way the government is harrassing the illegal immigrants. If the government had been like this soo many years ago, this country wouldn’t be the way it is now. Edmar will be missed by so many people, myself including. He was my good friend and it kills me to see pictures of how he was treated like a murderer!! It saddens me to hear the 911 tapes of when he was in distress. I hope nothing like this happens to any other person who is just trying to make a better life for themself!!


  4. If he was such a great guy then why does a BRAZILIAN website have a quote from another BRAZILIAN guy who says that he was a drug dealer. I think quote was something like he sold to whoever wanted to buy. Take a look at the ME’s report that just came out in projo.com. Surprise surprise…he was COKED UP. What are the chances he picked up a load and swallowed it when the cops pulled him over. What about the 20,000 that this guy’s sister claims was stolen on the day he died. Where did he get the 20,000 from? Painting houses…yeah right.

    Laurie’s assertion that this guy will be missed by everyone is probably right. His customers will miss him most of all.
    Why is it the cop’s/Immigration’s fault that he died? Let’s stop blaming this guy’s death on anyone but himself.


  5. If you look, you can probably find a few websites that prove beyond any doubt that the earth is flat. Because a Brazilian website says something about a Brazilian doesn’t make it any more true than if I say on my blog that you’re two feet tall.

    As for the Providence Journal piece, it doesn’t say he was ‘coked up’. It says he had cocaine in his system, along with an antianxiety agent, and that he suffered from a chronic seizure disorder. The cops refused to provide medication for the seizures once told that it was necessary for him to have it.

    Haven’t heard about the twenty thousand and you make no source citation for it, and wherever you got that information apparently offers no proof that the money, if there was any, was not legitimate.


  6. I will grant you that a Brazilian website is as unreliable as your blog. Can we both agree though that the Providence Journal is subject to at least a modicum of oversight, even it’s just the fear of a lawsuit? Projo.com has a timeline listing of all the events leading up to the death. At 3:00:32 PM a family representative arrives at the PD stating that Edmar may need INSULIN. No mention of any seizure disorder. This disorder was not mentioned by Edmar’s sister the first time she came to the PD either. It’s not until 03:29:15 that Edmar’s sister states that he needs anti-seizure medication. By this time, Edmar is already gone from the PD and with Immigration. The cops did NOT refuse to give him medication. They did NOT “Murder” him. Was there some sort of tragic lack of understanding? I don’t know and neither do you. It wasn’t until the third encounter with Edmar’s sister that the cops understood that this guy had some sort of seizure issues. Google cocaine and epilepsy on the internet and you’ll see that they don’t mix. It can bring on seizures. Google cocaine and hydroxyzine and you’ll see a DEA report that shows this hydroxy stuff is cut into cocaine. The only thing that makes sense is that the guy got scared when he got pulled over and ingested a bunch of cocaine. As far as him being “coked up”, you’re right, my words. I believe the ME said it was accute intoxication. Semantics.
    I know it’s your blog and you can say whatever you want in order to stir the pot. There’s no way you really believe anyone murdered this guy by denying him medication though. You’re too smart for that. What you really want to say is that he was murdered by the system…by the man. What other ridculous claim can you make? Maybe he was murdered by the cops because they didn’t arrest his dealer the day before? Maybe we should blame people who drive SUV’s because they caused the global warming that brought the rains that gave the Colombians a bumper crop this year.

    As for the 20,000…


  7. RB: Thanks for commenting. First let me refer you to this post Grumpy Lion

    The blog is not intended to be a work of reportage. I take legitimate news stories and write my reactions to them, occasionally sprinkling in some other stuff (Sears Repair Center, for example, or a Red Sox comment). It’s opinion, undiluted and strong. It helps keep my blood pressure down. It gives me something of a voice, and a place to vent. Obviously it is not meant to be a reliable source of investigation – but the source of my factual material is reliable, a reputable daily newspaper of good, if tarnished by these times, reputation. In other words, the stuff that gets me going is factually solid at the time I read it and write on it. Obviously things change in time, especially stories like Araujo’s, which tend to play for a day or two at most.

    How does all that relate to the Araujo matter? I gave an opinion on what I read in the paper that day, and my opinion was also informed by odds and ends which I picked up elsewhere but didn’t directly source. Stuff in the atmosphere, that kind of thing.

    Since I’m not acting as a reporter or investigator of fact, but only as a reporter of personal opinion, I don’t feel obligated to follow up on news stories. Often enough someone such as yourself will report a followup, as you’ve done here. Which is fine. I’ll let comments like that stand if they contain a decent amount of rationality and civility.

    My final notation on the Araujo matter is simply that if he had been a rich white citizen, with the same drug and medical situation, busted on some similar charge requiring the attentions of the same people Araujo was subjected to, he would very likely be alive today. And that is the deeper sense of my outrage at what happened to Araujo.

    As for your comment “There’s no way you really believe anyone murdered this guy by denying him medication though. You’re too smart for that.” Well, don’t tell me what I really believe, because you’d most likely be wrong. And I could be pretty stupid. In fact I am stupid about some things. Ain’t never gonna get calculus.

    Again, thanks for commenting. If nothing else, you did get me to rethink the tag line on the heading. Not sure what to change it to, but something will come to me.


  8. this message is for bruce. If you dont know wath you talk,no speech nothing, remember you talk about one life.


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