Statement from Jenny Esquivel, Eric McDavid’s partner
My name is Jenny Esquivel, and I am Eric McDavid's partner. I would like to speak with you briefly about Eric, his case, and his current medical situation.
Eric's case was a gross miscarriage of justice from the beginning, a result of government misconduct, FBI fumbling and entrapment. In interviews with the press after the verdict was delivered, a number of jury members commented on the obvious misconduct of the FBI, in particular, their use of the government informant named “Anna.” After speaking with members of the jury, defense counsel discovered that Eric would have been quickly acquitted if not for the faulty jury instructions they received. Eric's lawyer has filed a motion for a new trial/acquittal, which will be heard on December 6, 2007. If this motion is denied, Eric will be appealing his case to the 9th Circuit.
The Sacramento County Main Jail is now further punishing Eric by denying him his basic human right to food he can eat. Eric has been in custody at the jail since his arrest in January 2006. In April 2006, after the filing of a lawsuit, a flurry of phone calls from supporters, and a grueling two-week hunger strike the jail began feeding Eric vegan food in April 2006.
After providing Eric with vegan food for over 16 months, the jail abruptly denied him food he could eat one week before his trial. It is hard for me to believe that the timing of this decision was purely coincidental. Eric and his supporters have tried a variety of options to convince the jail to meet a simple, but vital request. Nothing seems to work. Since the jail began denying Eric vegan food (again) in September, up until the time he began his hunger strike on November 9th, he lost approximately 20 pounds, which means that he began his hunger strike with an already weakened body and immune system. This fact was made strikingly clear on November 9, when Eric suffered another bout of pericarditis. His health is already suffering, and now that he is not eating, it will no doubt accelerate at an alarming pace. He has already lost approximately 10 pounds in the last 11 days. As Eric’s partner, this is not something I am willing to accept. If the jail wishes to starve Eric, hiding their cruel practices from the view of the public eye, they will be sorely disappointed. I am firmly committed to making Eric’s critical health situation as visible as I possibly can from outside the jail walls.
As Eric's partner, I am deeply concerned about the health and well-being of my loved one. As a person of conscience, I am appalled at the complete disregard the Sacramento County Main Jail has shown for the health and safety of the people entrusted to their care. Access to food and health care are basic human rights. All too often it feels as if the world forgets that there are living breathing human beings behind these walls – which can make it far too easy for those who hold the keys to shirk their responsibilities and act as if the people who reside here are something less than human.
But for those of us who have loved ones locked in these hidden cages, this is a reality we face every day – it is constantly at the forefront of our minds and weighs heavy on our hearts. To face this reality every day is difficult enough, but it is infinitely compounded when our loved ones face the added challenges of health and medical issues such as Eric's. It is easy to feel frustrated and powerless in our attempts to make things better for those on the inside, but this is a dangerous trap to fall into, as it can easily lead to immobilization and despair. The connections we share with our loved ones inside are much more powerful than the walls that separate us physically from each other. This is where our power lies, and that is something they can't take away.
This is something that Eric has taught us over and over again – even, or rather, especially – from inside these concrete walls. Because when they have taken everything from you – contact with loved ones, your health, your freedom – your integrity and sense of self are all you have left. To abandon these as well would be to give up your humanity, your identity, the very things that make you who you are. Eric has remained true to these essential parts of himself. His unwavering commitment to live in a way that exudes the utmost compassion and concern for other beings and the earth – even from inside such an oppressive, dangerous environment - speaks to his beauty and strength as a human being. He provides us with a shining example of how to live and be in the world, even in the face of harsh adversity. It is a lesson his captors would do well to learn...
Eric has made his intent very clear – this is not only about him, but for those who may come later. No one should ever suffer for their decision to live their life in the most compassionate, humane way possible, yet this is exactly what is happening to Eric. The jail has provided Eric with vegan food in the past – there is absolutely no reason why they cannot continue to do so. And there is no reason they cannot ensure this for future prisoners.
Eric's family and loved ones are proud of him for taking a stand on this issue, for remaining true to his principles, and for remembering throughout this horrific ordeal who he is. We are absolutely committed to standing by him and doing all that is within our power to change this devastating situation.