Spirits are high - this is pretty funny, all in all. We're trying to strike lightheartedness in the stony faced cops, sometimes they crack a smile, and then some pissed off protestor makes a pork comment and we're back where we started.
We arrive at the station - not equipped to handle commuter buses packed with prisoners, we jockey fifteen minutes for garage position. We pull up, and wait forty five more minutes. My cuffs are too tight, my left index finger is numb. My hands are behind my back, so I can't sit down straight.
For lack of a better thing, we debate Officer Miguel Granados on police, humanity, protesting, and the righteousness of our indignation. He asks what we were protesting about, I can't tell if he's just patronizing us.
After twice telling the bus he took his clothes off during the march, some guy explains the shared humanity between us and Miguel - casting occasional furtive glances at the cop as he speaks. He seems to be playing toady well, but Miguel refuses his bathroom request.
When someone else calls the cop a slave, he said he was "slave to only one" - means God's appointed him human cattle driver?
Herded off the bus, into a concrete garage complex. In a door, finally cuffs removed, spread-eagled against the wall, being searched for weapons. Herded into holding cell #10, ground zero for boredom and trepidation.
Outside, views of other over-crowded cells, the jing clank stock stride of 2nd generation Americans.
Seventeen of us in nine by twelve means we can't sleep straight, some poor souls have to sit by the latrine. For nearly two hours - closing my dry eyes and opening them to the same light green flourescent lit madness.
The naked demonstrator meditates. A redhead wearing a Kenyon sweatshirt sleeps on the floor. Conversation is sporadic, humour rare and refreshing.
With my impatience and incredulity, I am the least seasoned of the bunch. Nearly all of these folk have been arrested before. "Yeah, this is my twelveth time in jail. Last time it was more crowded." The veteran protestors had vignettes, small-town lockups and big city brigs, I guess they don't get along with the law.
There is a payphone in this cell, like there will be in all the rest. I don't use it - who are you going to call at 3.30am to inform you're being indefinitely processed? I hadn't even been charged yet.
"Justin Hall. JUSTIN HALL!" is called out of the cell. Marching to the counter, removing jewelery, hair ties, pocket contents. Demanding a recepit for my bag already taken, recieving none. Asking for a pen, some paper, nothing doing. What's going to happen to us? "You'll probably spend three days in jail, and appear before the judge on Friday."
"I am a homeless black man with AIDS. If I can live without hatred, than certainly you can."
Herded into another holding cell - smaller, equal number of people. The naked demonstrator becomes Toni Allen, a Pisces who talks much about love. I seem to have forgotten my Gandhi, he has to explain to me his lack of cop directed bitterness, "I am a homeless black man with AIDS. If I can live without hatred, than certainly you can."
Guided upstairs, we are the first shift to penetrate the inner recesses of the prison. Sitting two by two, plasticuffed together, twelve of us wait on the floor of the visitors room. Two dudes handcuffed to each other, sprawled on the floor, are first non-protest prisoners we've yet seen, followed by a drugged-up woman practically frothing at the mouth.
Broken up, lead off. Photographed again. "Are you gay?" Not yet. What does it matter? "Depends where you are housed."
The woman is brought to where I am, sitting next to me handcuffed she starts giving the cop more lip. They are trying to handcuff her to a pipe in the corner, she puts up resistance - "Don't do this to me man" it takes three cops to subdue her, twisting her arm, pulling her head and hair back, bending her leg backwards, her body against the floor. Officers are yelling from across the room "Put shackles on her" so they do.
Order to stand by a small room, I look inside, two tough Korean cops are supervising disrobement of four fellows. Black, white, long hair, dreads, all naked.
My turn. Stride in, use the steel toilet in the back of the room. Remove my clothes, each piece I must hand to the officer for inspection. I'm sweating it just a bit, my jailhouse scrawlings to that point I stashed under the sole of my left sneaker. This guard doesn't remove soles like his buddy, I'm safe. Finally to my underwear, I dangle it before the officer and with a flourish, do a dance a twirl, and say "If you're going to be naked, might as well have a good time." Stern reply, "Lift up your sack. Bend over, spread your cheeks, cough." Again more flourish, gotta keep dancin'.
If you're going to be naked, might as well have a good time. Stern reply, "Lift up your sack. Bend over, spread your cheeks, cough."
Finished, I put on my clothes, and finally flush the toilet. Officer number two, the thorough shoe inspector barks feircely, "Don't flush the toilet! Who told you to flush the toilet! Don't flush the fucking toilet!" and I thought I was being well-mannered.
Now I am in "the Tank" a larger cell, with no more sunlight gives it a timeless quality. Except now, we're next to the medical examination room. We can see a clock, it is seven am. More non-protestors here, all of 'em drunk and passed out in the back.
We are supposed to be processed some more, examined and questioned, but the jail shuts down between seven thirty and nine so they can count prisoners. So we stew in the unventilated heat of over forty men pushing their way to full body concrete bedding while suited morons recount us every ten minutes.
They serve some breakfast; milk, scrambled eggs, tight but moist, four slices wheat WonderBread and butter, potatoes with red spice, runny oatmeal and two packages sugar. I was hungry, I've had worse.
Some guy by the latrine is reaching in the toilet and playing with toilet paper - it looks like he's rolling a joint of shit.
One of two phones is monopolized entirely by a solid colour wearing bleary eyed homey - talkin' 'bout trippin' bitches - "I tol ju not to fuck wit dem trippin' bitches." He tells one of his buddies to take his Seville, not the other car, it sounds like he's managing his empire.
In the medical fingerprint process waiting room - "get upa, git on up. get upa, geet on up" someone has quiet radioed James Brown, and I feel good.
Speaking to the beleaguered fingerprint lady, I am one of 279 arrestees.The fingerprint lady is pleasant, she envisions a rosier sceario - "you should be released by this afternoon. There's no way they'll keep all of you overnight." She's been married twice, divorced twice, still fingerprinting after 22 years. Her last marriage was a deputy, "I should have known better - he wanted to marry me on the first date - no man wants to marry."
Suddenly I understand the scope of this fiasco. 279 people to be detained, housed, fed, fingerprinted, examined, and strip searched. As my friend Steve said, "That's a lot of assholes."
Front and left photos, health interview and orange bracelets, finger prints ink and computer, arrest as a multimedia documented experience.
I spy a cohort in crime, one of many rag tag punk anarchists with studded vests and sewn together clothes, patches, "A Note with a Brick, Caste One Tonight."
I finally pick up the phone, call Sonic.Sonic, you know how you said I'd end up in jail? You were right, I've been arrested."Justin Hall. JUSTIN HALL!"
"For Links from the Underground?!?"
No, see there was this protest, and
Gotta go. Call you back.My presence has been cordially requested at the OR table. "Do you want to apply for OR?" What is that? Exasperated, I should know this may be my only hope for release prior to my court date - OR stands for Own Recognizance. Sure, I'll provide a bunch of information about myself, my job, my co-workers, friends, and relatives.
"Wait, wait, what-"
Ten thousand dollar bail? "Arson is a felony offense."
I am next ushered into the Deputy's office, excited now because he might know what's going on. He asks for more information, health problems, place of residence, and sends me on to make my phone calls. Wait, what have I been charged with? He lists the offenses. How can I get out? "Wait for your court date, or make bail." What is my bail? He doesn't know, he looks up the offenses in a book, argues about it with the other officers, "Ten thousand dollars." Ten thousand dollar bail? "Arson is a felony offense."
To my alloted three phone calls, friends and family. I give them all the numbers I have written down about myself, my case, just in time when
"Justin. JUSTIN HALL!"
I am finally being ushered into my cell.
It had been over ten hours. I still have not been informed about my crime, interviewed about my participation, or read my miranda rights.