"One may smile, and smile, and be a villain," Shakespeare noted in Hamlet. Was he talking about SLO County Sheriff Ian Parkinson?
When Andrew Holland died on Jan. 22, 2017, while incarcerated at the SLO County Jail, he was writhing naked on the floor, covered in his own excrement, and surrounded by jail staff, some of whom were grinning like jackals. He perished due to an embolism.
What happened to Holland—a mentally ill 36-year-old who'd been strapped for 46 hours to an immobilizing restraint chair—was a tragedy. It was also gross negligence at best, torture and homicide at worst, and so far no one has been held accountable. No one. Worse still, it now seems probable that Parkinson and San Luis Obispo County are engaged in a cover-up.
Denmark's got nothing on rotten SLO County!
With an election on the horizon and a heated race between Parkinson and his opponent Greg Clayton, the Holland case shows no signs of being swept under the rug. Holland's family and the public aren't having it!
What's amazing is that Parkinson hasn't withdrawn from the race (or simply resigned in shame over his gross mismanagement). And it's even more amazing that some members of the public continue to support him. I don't know what kind of sheriff Clayton might make, but to allow Parkinson to continue is to endorse the jail's obvious dysfunction and mismanagement under his "leadership."
Parkinson claims he didn't learn of Holland's situation until emergency personnel were on their way to the jail to treat Holland. If that's true, it means he's a shitty, out-of-touch sheriff who's unaware of his staff's misbehavior. It means he's allowed a culture of neglect that resulted in a man's unnecessary death. If it's not true, he's just a goddamned liar who's trying to save his political ass. Either way, it's really not good.
Holland's family members claim Parkinson told them in March of 2017 that he knew Holland had been put in the chair on Jan. 20, 2017, and that he approved it. Parkinson now denies that assertion. What's more probable? Let's examine Parkinson's history of lying about this case.
Parkinson claimed Holland was continually combative and jail staff had no choice but to restrain him, but the released video of the episode contradicts that. Three hours into his restraint, Holland appears compliant, almost catatonic. Parkinson also said restraint was necessary because the jail staff isn't legally allowed to sedate prisoners. Now we know that Holland did receive some medication, including an injection of the anti-anxiety sedative Lorazepam, an hour after being strapped in that chair. Which is it?
Parkinson also asserted that because the SLO County Behavioral Health Agency wouldn't admit Holland, his death was their fault, not the jail's. Is this leadership under Parkinson? Passing the buck?
So what did Parkinson know, and when did he know it?
The county has supposedly released all phone records concerning Holland's death, but I for one am not satisfied. On the initial release, Parkinson's phone records were withheld due to what the county's legal team later described as an "oversight." Hmm. Other records were withheld because they supposedly didn't relate to the Holland death, but some calls were included that also didn't relate. Who gets to decide what's relevant and what's protected? Should it be SLO County Counsel Rita Neal? What's being held back and why?
This lack of oversight and transparency—not to mention capricious decision-making—on the part of the county to decide which calls were and weren't relevant is a problem. Why should we believe anything the county says?
Tave Holland, Andrew's cousin and a SLO-based lawyer representing the family, told New Times, "I think that they produced them because it was politically expedient."
It's not clear when Parkinson knew, but what is clear is that he's lied about the case before, and he's either lying now about when he knew of Holland's restraint or he's a terrible, out-of-touch sheriff who doesn't have control over his jail staff. Whatever the truth, it seems painfully obvious that concerns about Parkinson's political career, both by the sheriff and county itself, have trumped transparency and accountability at every turn.
The Andrew Holland thing isn't going away, but Parkinson should. If you're still supporting him, the question is why?
Meanwhile at Cal Poly, university President Jeffery D. Armstrong says he's "outraged" over a second blackface incident, this one in response to the first. "These vile and absolutely unacceptable acts cannot continue," Armstrong said in a May 4 video address sent to members of the campus community. "We must not allow these acts to define us as an institution."
Um, weren't you the dude who claimed the first blackface incident, while awful, was protected free speech? I guess Armstrong is "evolving." In a town hall meeting a few weeks ago, he claimed neither the campus nor America was systemically racist, but then some brown folks on campus pointed out he was a privileged white male, and as such he doesn't know jack-shit about racism on campus or in America because he's not the victim of it!
Armstrong has now dumped the whole ugly series of racist events into the lap of the California Attorney General for investigation. Smells like leadershit. Δ
The Shredder prays he's never in the SLO County Jail. Send ideas and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.