Posted at 3:55 p.m. and updated below with an interview with Jennifer Fox. Updated again on November 22 with questions about Fox's claims.
One of Occupy Seattle's outspoken activists who blogs under the name Ian Awesome has a post up this afternoon about the pregnant woman who was hit in last Tuesday's pepper spray attack by Seattle police:
On the 20th, Jeniffer Fox received news that she has miscarried, and alleges the miscarriage is due to the injuries she received during the police action on the 15th.
"It hurts. It's upsetting. I was ready to have a kid, because my family was going to support me in taking care of the child. Her name was going to be Miracle."
UPDATE: Jennifer Fox, 19, spoke to The Stranger at the Occupy Seattle encampment at Seattle Central Community College. Fox claimed that she was three months pregnant last Tuesday evening when she joined an Occupy Seattle march that stopped at the intersection of 5th Avenue and Pine Street.
"I was standing in the middle of the crowd when the police started moving in," she says. "I was screaming, 'I am pregnant, I am pregnant. Let me through. I am trying to get out.'" At that point, Fox continues, a Seattle police officer lifted his foot and it hit her in the stomach, and another officer pushed his bicycle into the crowd, again hitting Fox in the stomach. "Right before I turned, both cops lifted their pepper spray and sprayed me. My eyes puffed up and my eyes swelled shut," she says.
Fox asked for medical attention—the now-famous photo by Josh Trujillo of her being carried to the ambulance is here (click to the second photo)—and was rushed to Harborview Medical Center, she says, where doctors performed an ultrasound and said that they "didn't see anything wrong with the baby at the time." Fox says she had also seen a physician at Harborview for prenatal care about five week before.
"Everything was going okay until yesterday, when I started getting sick, cramps started, and I felt like I was going to pass out," Fox says.
A friend called for an ambulance near the community college campus. (Fox says she has been camping with Occupy Seattle since it first began in Westlake Park. She is homeless and says, "I don't have a place. This is the place I call home.") When she arrived at Harborview at 11:00 a.m., she says, a doctor told her that "there was no heartbeat" from the baby. "They diagnosed that I was having a miscarriage. They said the damage was from the kick and that the pepper spray got to it [the fetus], too."
As for joining the protests, she says, "I was worried about it, but I didn't know it would be this bad. I didn't know that a cop would murder a baby that's not born yet... I am trying to get lawyers."
I repeatedly asked Fox if she could provide any medical records that confirm the miscarriage or that the clash with police officers caused it. She did not have copies but says she asked her case worker at Harborview to provide her with records (I'll continue to ask for follow-up evidence and post if and when Fox provides those records). Harboview officials say they cannot provide any information, of course, except that medical records would mention those details. The Seattle Police Department did not immediately respond to request for comment.
UPDATE on Nov. 22 at 3:47 PM: Yesterday Jennifer Fox claimed (first on this blog and then to The Stranger) that she miscarried her fetus, three months into her pregnancy, five days after police pepper sprayed her at an Occupy Seattle protest. I repeatedly asked if she could provide any medical records to back up her claim—a claim that doctors at Harborview Medical Center said her clash with police caused the miscarriage—but she said she would be in touch with a case worker. Lacking a way to verify her claim (except asking for her records) I said I would follow up.
So I tracked Fox down today at the Occupy Seattle encampment at Seattle Central Community College. Had she contacted anyone at the hospital? “I can’t go to the hospital until Sunday or Monday,” she said. Fox said that she’s having a memorial service for her miscarried baby and one of her fellow occupiers is planning a candlelight vigil, which will consume her time until next week. Can't she get away to the hospital for an hour? “No.” I provided Fox a copy of a records release for the hospital, which she put into her coat, but again Fox said she couldn’t go request her records until next week. I offered her a ride to and from the hospital, but she again refused. I explained to Fox that, lacking any evidence of her claim, her story was increasingly subject to scrutiny.
While sources in general should be given the benefit of the doubt—even if they are homeless women—and there is no evidence that Fox isn't being entirety forthright, her story looks increasingly dubious.
It's worth pointing out that in the Seattlepi.com article last week, the reporter noted that Fox was two months pregnant, when she told me that she was three months pregnant at the time.
UPDATE on Nov. 22 at 4:18 PM: Acting on an anonymous tip, we heard that Seattle police found Fox in a house six nearly nine weeks ago. According to a police report in which the names have been redacted, a suspect who appears to have a three-letter last name "said she is three months pregnant... and began crying when [a suspect] was arrested. [The person with a three-letter last name] began holding her stomach and screaming that it hurt." The woman was transferred to Harborview Medical Center. We are attempting to contact Fox to ask if she is the woman in the police report.
SPD has now provided a statement, saying that no complaint has been filed in the original incident. Seattle police sergeant Sean Whitcomb says: "We are aware of a claim that a pregnant woman who attended the November 15 Occupy Seattle march has been treated for miscarriage. We are also aware that she has attributed the miscarriage to the use of pepper spray and physical contact by Seattle police officers. No formal complaint has been made. Consistent with standard procedure, the Office of Professional Accountability, or OPA, has initiated an internal investigation to look into the matter further. The OPA investigators will be actively searching for any information that will support this claim."