Whether you're pro-choice or pro-life, we're pretty sure everyone can agree that shoving around and arresting a little old lady expressing her right to free speech just isn't very nice. Meet 74-year-old Martha Northington, who attended a portion of State Rep. Wendy Davis's 11-hour filibuster of Texas's restrictive SB5 abortion bill that led to much acclaim on Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, around the time this nice elderly woman was forcibly dragged out of the state capitol in Austin. Northington was charged with assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest, which, well, have a look:
You can clearly see the state troopers pushing Northington. You can hear her say as much: "You're hurting me." According to her niece, officers asked that the gallery be cleared after a debate on stopping the filibuster concluded in the end of a very long day and night, but Northington, apparently, just wasn't moving fast enough.
You can kind of see a flurry, at about 10 seconds in, when Northington appears to try and push off or get the trooper to slow down. In the officer's report, the main trooper claims that Northington slapped him, according to KEYE, Austin's CBS affiliate. "I was just instinctively trying to keep from being hurt more," Northington told the station. "And that's all I remember, trying to stop his hurting me." She also showed the station these bruises:
Northington has become a viral hero of sorts. According to the International Convocation of Unitarian Universalist Women, she's a member of that progressive organization. The Department of Public Safety at the Capitol released this statement regarding her arrest, which would indicate that officers believe Northington was keeping from order being "maintained."
DPS Troopers work every day to ensure all visitors and staff at the Texas Capitol remain safe and that order is maintained. DPS Troopers took actions they deemed appropriate in order to accomplish those goals and of the thousands of people who filled the Gallery and halls of the State Capitol at one time, ultimately three individuals were arrested.
The left-leaning blog Burnt Orange Report reports that an eyewitness at the police station told them that the charges against Northington were later reduced, but adds that she was charged "with at least one felony." The blog adds that the officer seemed to have second thoughts, possibly signaling that he may have overreacted:
The witness said the officer appeared to be unsure what he was willing to actually charge her with and had trouble filing his report.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.