Friday, November 4, 2011

Standing with Occupy Boston - Part 3

It was dark in the back of the paddy wagon.  There were 2 sections, with very narrow seats and a divider in-between.  With our hands behind our backs, the seats became even more narrow.

We had heard that the women were going to be taken to either South Boston or the South End.  Knowing that was at least somewhat of a comfort.

When the police officer stopped, he stopped so suddenly that it would throw us all to the front of the wagon.  Honestly, it felt like he was doing it on purpose.  Having grown up in Los Angeles, you can forgive my slight bias against the cops.  Truth be told, there were moments I had to convince myself that we wouldn't all (as an all woman wagon) be forced into strange sexual situations.

They took us to the South End station, where they first put the 10 of us women in a holding cell, including the Director of the National Lawyers Guild.  After about 5 minutes, we saw another wagon of girls arrive.  I eagerly searched for other members of my affinity group, but didn't see them.

Luckily, some of the girls had their zipties on loose enough that they could wiggle around, text their contacts, and scratch their itches.  When they first strapped on my zipties, I could tell that they were on quite snug on my wrists.  After a while, I started feeling like my fingers were going numb.  As they were booking the first two ladies, I asked one of the officers to either loosen them or cut them and put new ones on me.  Apparently, someone higher ranking than him had to do it.

To this day, my right pinky finger feels slightly different from whatever nerve got pinched.

Because I mentioned how painful the zipties felt, I was the 3rd to be booked.  Finally, they removed my zipties, and the tingling grew less intense.

First, I was frisked by a female officer in a cell, where we had a short conversation about how much more invasive that frisking was compared to the TSA.  She reached around the top of my pants, asked me to lift my shirt to see if I had anything hidden in my bra.  But I could sense that she didn't like that part of the job any more than I liked being part of it.

Then, I was told to remove my belt and put my belongings, including a hairtie and my seashell necklace into a bag.  They moved me back into the main area, where I saw that a third group of girls had arrived.  As they moved the first two women into individual cells, they moved me up to a window where a woman was taking down our information.

I was asked to write down my address and social security number.  As she inputted that information, they took my mugshots.  As I continued to answer questions, they THEN read me my Miranda Rights, before taking my fingerprints.  When I got to make my phone call, I quickly called the person who had my belongings and asked her to call my two contacts with the information of the police station.

At some point, I noticed that they took several of the women who were in my wagon and affinity group back to another wagon.  I asked one of the officers where they were taking them, but they basically ignored me.  This caused a bit of anxiety for me, because I didn't want to be separated from those I had stood in solidarity with.

After that whole process, they took me to an individual holding cell.

As I waited in the cell, I imagined what it must have happened in there.  All the scratches and marks on the wall and glass door.  All the unknown dirt stains on the walls.  It was horrifying.  I could only imagine what it must be like for someone who wasn't planning to get arrested.

I realized that on the off chance that I would be able to get to work the next day, that I needed to get some form of rest.  So, I tried my best to close my eyes, making sure that my head was located furthest from the dirtiest wall.  Cells are cold and concrete and dull.  You should avoid getting arrested if you're at all fidgety or claustrophobic.

I would listen one in a while to the other ladies talking, occasionally getting up to ask questions.  Since there was a representative from the National Lawyers Guild in the cell with us, I learned that they had a pool of money to help bail us out.  That they're probably on their way to bail her out, and she would promptly retrieve more funds to bail the rest of us out.

There was definitely a moment when I realized that I should have called another friend of mine to bail me out.  It was torture not knowing how long I was going to be there.

Luckily, I was part of one of the first groups who were released.  They took us to another room where I received my summons to court.  I was to show up on Wednesday morning.
I'm definitely planning on framing this
It was 4:50am.  I knew that there was no way in hell that I would have made it to bootcamp that morning.

Eventually, my friend came to pick me up and I was able to retrieve my belongings from the woman in our affinity group.  She told me that I was one of the first she had heard from, which worried me.

Later, after scouring the Occupy Boston website and news sources, I saw tons of videos and images of that evening.  I also learned that the women who were randomly taken to another station had been locked up for nearly 16 hours, where they were then promptly taken to court for arraignment.

On that Wednesday, I learned that justice is most definitely not blind, but definitely near-sighted. 

Firstly, some of us were charged with "unlawful assembly" while others were also charged with "trespassing" as well.  What was the difference?  I have no idea.  Perhaps those are the folks who resisted arrest?  Honestly, it just felt random.

Over the course of that week, the 141 of us who were arrested had several different fates.  One judge (who was described as black with dreadlocks) saw the charges and dismissed them outright.  Another judge offered those of us who had no prior records a chance to turn the criminal charge into a civil offense + a $50 fine (basically like getting a moving violation).  Others who had prior records had harsher charges.  Some chose not to take the deal and plead not guilty, while the majority of us took the deal.

As they called our names, I was frustrated that they couldn't seem to get my name right.  It seemed ridiculous that because the bail bondsman didn't write my name down correctly on my arraignment paper that the rest of the people couldn't even pronounce it.  It was ridiculous.

I also noticed the television camera that was pointed at us.  Meanwhile, the District Attorney who suggested the deal wouldn't even make eye contact with any of us.

After that, I paid my fine and was a free woman.


Looking back, I am so proud to have been part of it.  It was extremely frightening to face the police and to see how physical they were getting.  But I am thankful that it was not as violent as it has been in New York and Oakland.

The process of the judicial system is strange.  Really, it's quite dehumanizing.  And yet, it's doing exactly what it was intended to do.

I believe this movement has potential. 
I believe that there has been an unequal distribution of wealth for too long, and I believe that it is part of the American history and right to fight against that as they did with the Tea Tax. 
I believe that that unequal distribution of wealth is the large "umbrella" problem, which houses underneath it labor and workers rights, immigration issues, poverty, minimum wage, health care, and everything else that is broken in this country. 
I believe that the Wall St. Executives, Banks, and Lobbyists have abused their power and continued to purchase their lavish homes while others were foreclosed on.
I believe they need to be jailed and fined for their behavior.
I believe that those who say that they are responsible for upholding our constitutional rights need to be held responsible.

I am a product of the dream of the American Dream.  I finished high school, college, and graduate school.  Yet I have to work multiple jobs and am still not able to make ends meet.  When my 18 months of unemployment benefits ended, so did my state-required health insurance.  I was without health insurance for 8 months.  I will be penalized for not having health insurance come next tax season.  There's something wrong when those who are in a profession to protect our future are treated with less respect than those who've created a financial collapse.  Why should I be punished for doing work that helps others?  Why is my job as a sex educator, child care worker, and social worker worth less than the quarterback or the bank executive?  Why can't I do what I love while also be able to one day own a home and raise my own family? 

This is why I choose to stand in solidarity with the Occupy Movement.

I am the 99%.


  1. Wow! Good for you! I'd be too scared about being arrested to join UB. I suggest you read the book Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan. The main character Esperanza has to work in fields to provide for her and her sick mother. Many of the workers have stopped working and banded together to demand better living conditions. They hide rattle snakes, broken glass, and rats in the picked crops the people still working in the fields need to pack in cartons. Esperanza is upset about it all and she understands the protesters' side but she needs to keep her job to take care of her mother in the hospital. It's a very good book. :)

  2. The Former went to Occupy Dallas last Saturday & the video he took is nuts-o! What's the deal with the police and the arrests? I'm completely out of the loop. Haven't read news in months :/


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