Two Utahns were among 30 handicapped protesters jailed in Sparks, Nev., as a result of a weekend demonstration at a national mass transit convention, authorities have confirmed.
Washoe County Jail officials said that Barbara Toomer, director of the Salt Lake Citizens Congress, and Rick James, a board member for Crossroads Urban Center, were jailed on misdemeanor charges following the protests Sunday and Monday.Municipal Judge Donald Gladstone, who fined the demonstrators and sentenced them to three days in jail, ordered their release Thursday night after they agreed to pay at least part of their fines of up to $580 and to perform community service when they returned to their home towns.
Some of the protesters conducted a three-day hunger strike in jail to protest Gladstone's sentences.
The jail official said James was booked for obstructing a police officer and resisting arrest. He was scheduled for release April 21. Toomer was booked for both of those charges and blocking a fire exit. She was scheduled for release April 28.
It could not be determined if either Toomer or James participated in a hunger strike by the protesters.
Sheriff's Lt. Michael Kramer said a hunger strike or fast was conducted, but he wasn't certain how many individuals still were involved or who they were.
Kramer said that during the hunger strike, the jail added eight nurses and eight orderlies to its staff and brought in a doctor specializing in spinal disorders on a full-time basis.
"We . . . spent several thousand dollars on extra medical facilities," he said, adding that authorities were prepared to take any physically unstable protesters to a hospital "and, if necessary, get a court order to do what we need medically and nutritionally for them."
Sparks Police Lt. Tony Zamboni said 72 people were arrested Sunday and Monday when they tried to enter a hotel casino where the American Public Transportation Association was holding its convention.
Disabled people from several states descended on Sparks to demonstrate their feelings about a national policy requiring wheelchair accessibility on buses and other forms of public transportation, and to publicize the position of the disabled.