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View Diary: They marched and battled for the ballot (104 comments)

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  •  many suffragists were brutalized (5+ / 0-)

    while demonstrating and when incarcerated:

    An account of the events is given by Doris Stevens in Jailed for Freedom[3]

    As the suffragists kept protesting, the jail terms grew longer. Finally, police arrested Alice Paul on October 20, 1917, while she carried a banner that quoted Wilson: "The time has come to conquer or submit, for us there can be but one choice. We have made it." She was sentenced to seven months in prison. Paul and many others were again sent to the Occoquan Workhouse, where Paul was placed in solitary confinement for two weeks, with nothing to eat except bread and water. She became weak and unable to walk, so she was taken to the prison hospital. There, she began a hunger strike, and others joined her.

    In response to the hunger strike, prison doctors placed Paul in a psychiatric ward and threatened to transfer her to St. Elizabeths Hospital, an insane asylum. She still refused to eat. Doctors became afraid that she might die, so three times a day for three weeks, they forced a tube down her throat and poured liquids into her stomach. They force fed her substances that would have as much protein as possible, like raw eggs mixed with milk. One physician reported that she had "a spirit like Joan of Arc, and it is useless to try to change it. She will die but she will never give up."

    Despite this seeming regard for Paul's health, those at the prison deprived her of sleep. They directed an electric light at her face and turned it on briefly every hour of every night. There were also reports of worm-infested food and unsanitary conditions for the jailed protesters.

    On the night of November 15, 1917, the superintendent of the Occoquan Workhouse, W.H. Whittaker, ordered the nearly forty guards to brutalize the suffragists. They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head, then left her there for the night. They threw Dora Lewis into a dark cell and smashed her head against an iron bed, which knocked her out. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, who believed Lewis to be dead, suffered a heart attack. According to affidavits, guards grabbed, dragged, beat, choked, pinched, and kicked other women.

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    by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 07:31:59 PM PST

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