The world knows his name. A video showing his agonizing, final hours has garnered national and international coverage. SLO County is now associated with cruel, institutionalized barbarianism that remains unchecked.

The newly released video shows the 36-year-old man placed in a restraint chair for 46 hours and left to die — naked as he spent his final moments writhing on the floor of his jail cell. We read about his mental health issues (he suffered from schizophrenia), the circumstances surrounding his untimely death, and the pain and suffering Andrew Holland’s family suffered in the aftermath.

Now everyone is a witness to the cruel and inhumane treatment of Holland by the SLO County Sheriff’s Dept., the subsequent cover-up and a lack of urgency to investigate the circumstances by the District Attorney’s Office. Despite SLO County Sheriff Ian Parkinson promising changes, he continues to defend his department’s actions — including when deputies pointed and laughed at Holland as he suffered — as if the protocols followed at the time are worth defending.

Imagine for a moment the pain and suffering endured by other mentally disabled inmates that occupied the SLO County Jail. They have no voice, no video and no oversight.

Now imagine the one relative you have in your own family, someone you love and deeply care for: the Andrew Holland in your life. When you watch the video, do you think your relative would be treated like inmates with fewer mental health struggles? Do you think your relative survive imprisonment in SLO County? Given the inconsistent and contradictory statements from our Sheriff’s Dept. and the chillingly tonedeaf response to the video, do you think they would ever have a chance?

My guess is: unlikely.

Not only do we need a change in the process, we also need a change in leadership. For real change to happen, Sheriff Ian Parkinson and District Attorney Dan Dow need to step down. By staying in the political race, they will further tarnish the reputation of our county, prolong the suffering of others like Holland and treat humans who were born different as less than human. Not one more.

We are Andrew Holland. We are one.

 

Aaron Ochs is a columnist, marketing entrepreneur and founder of SLO Truth. Ochs is also involved in his community as founder of Save Morro Bay (www.savemorrobay.com).

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