UPDATE 1/15/14: After almost 10 years, the lawsuits that arose from this event are finally settled. A sort of hollow victory, as the NYPD admits no liability, even though that’s quite obviously complete bullshit. Thanks to the NYCLU for doing the hard work of seeing this through.
Thanks for the amazing outpouring of support. I was released Thursday, September 2nd at around noon after being detained for 40 hours. I was one of 1200 people arrested in a 4-hour period on Tuesday night during RNC week in New York City. I, along with many others were not actively engaging in civil disobedience or otherwise doing anything other than walking down a sidewalk taking pictures. The police penned in a whole block near Union Square and arrested everyone within. We were all taken to Pier 57, now infamously being called Guantanamo on the Hudson due to it’s chain link fencing and razor wire. Most of us were held there for at least 12 hours under filthy and crowded conditions. The place had been a former city bus garage. The cement floor has accumulated years of motor oil, diesel fuel, antifreeze and who knows what other chemicals. During my stay, there were few benches in the smaller cages and none at all in the larger cage. People were forced to lie down on the bare toxic concrete to try and sleep away the hours. After some processing, we were taken by prison bus to Central Booking aka The Tombs. The next 28 hours were an endless series of shuffling from cell to cell, multiple searches, subhuman food, mind control and frustration. It wasn’t until 20 hours into the process that I was allowed a phone call and not until the end of my 40 order hour ordeal was I able to see a lawyer and soon thereafter, a judge. I was charged with 2 counts of Disorderly Conduct and one count of Parading Without a Permit as were many others. These charges are violations and normally warrant an on the spot Desk Appearance Ticket. It was quite obvious to me that the intent of holding us so long was to keep us off the street as long as possible. A New York State Supreme Court justice ruled the city is in contempt for holding us so long and may be fining the city $1000 per head ($500k) for doing so. I walked away with an ACD, Adjournment of Contemplation for Dismissal, which means no conviction, no fines and the record is sealed as long as I don’t get arrested for the same offense within the next 6 months.
There is talk of class action suits to address the toxic conditions at Pier 57 and the ridiculous & illegal amount of time we were held. Everyone is encouraged to document their experiences as soon as possible while it is still fresh. The more documentation we have, the easier it will be to backup any claims that arise.
If you have any questions or comments regarding what happened to me, feel free to drop me a line and I will do my best to address them. If you were also locked up during this time, please contact me and say hi. I’m trying to maintain connections with as many people as possible that has gone through this.
Click below to read the long story. It’s a detailed account of my 40 hour experience.
Here’s a detailed account of what happened to me:
Around 7:30pm on Tuesday, August 31st I follow a marching band and trickster Wizard of Oz cowardly Rumsfeld lion puppet that left from Union Square down E. 16th street. I am on the opposite side of the street, on the sidewalk just taking pictures. Within 10 minutes, NYPD riot cops have both ends of the street barricaded. They order everyone onto the sidewalk and began making arrests. They arrest EVERYONE who is on the block except for residents of that street or “officially” credentialed media (My Indymedia press pass is laughed at). I am told I am being charged only with disorderly conduct. I find out 40 hours later that I’m charged with two counts of ‘disorderly conduct’ and one count of ‘marching without a permit. My Miranda rights are never read. I am with a few other San Francisco friends who are similarly surprised at being arrested. We are all cuffed with fat plastic zip-tie style restraints. An arresting officer is ‘assigned’ to myself and 4 other arrestees. He will be our main contact on the inside throughout this lengthy ordeal. The arresting office, Officer Shore (#23066), pats me down and does a quick search of my backpack. My cell phone is taken from me, put in my backpack and put into a large plastic bag. I am told to line up against the wall and give my name name, date of birth and where I’m from. Another officer shows up with a Polaroid camera and takes four pictures of me and Officer Shore smiling on.
After about an hour, the five of us are marched to a waiting city bus where we are loaded for transport. Within an hour, I arrive at Pier 57, a former bus depot that has been fashioned into a Guantanamo style Camp X-Ray with high chain-linked fencing ringed with razor wire. I wait on the bus cuffed, as I watch dozens of arresting officers check in their Glocks at a front desk. Another hour later and the bus pulls into an area deep within the facility where I disembark with my property. My picture is taken with a Polaroid and it is attached to someone else’s property bag. That someone else’s picture is attached to my bag. I am told to leave my property and I am led into a large holding cage built on a concrete floor embedded with years of build-up of oil, diesel and antifreeze. There are no benches or other places to sit, just an oily floor.
The scene is cordial, almost party like, as hundreds of us are walking around, still cuffed, finding friends and making new ones. I find my San Francisco friends easily and see others I’ve met recently. It appears that people came from at least three different arrest locations and I soon learn that over 300 people were arrested in my location alone. I notice Emmanuel Goldstein, founder of 2600 Magazine and the HOPE conferences is among us. I see that the property check-in process was wildly varied as I notice a couple women still holding their bags, many people still have their cell phones and even a few with cameras. A few people surreptitiously make calls out from cell phones while others form a circle to hide a caller. I hear at least one radio interview being conducted over the phone to a Colorado radio station. A few on the spot Indymedia call-ins take place and I attempt to locate a phone for Goldstein to call into WBAI where he has a weekly radio show.
At this point we haven’t been given a chance to use a bathroom facility, it’s been about 3 hours. I see several ladies huddled up in a corner blocking others while they pee on the floor. Soon after, lines form on either ends of the cage for people wanting to use the port-o-john’s that are now open for business. They are located behind a locked gate at either end where a police officer mans these gates while allowing one person at a time to enter. My turn is next, my plastic cuffs are cut off and I finally pee. I stretch my arms a bit, gulp down a cup off water from a nearby water cooler and prepare to be recuffed. I put my hands behind my back and am recuffed very loosely. I return to the general population in the main cage and pull my hands out of my cuffs as I see many others have done.
I have an interesting conversation with a young Republican from Boston who somehow got himself a trespassing charge for wandering into the wrong part of Madison Square Garden during the convention. He claims he was interrogated, punched in the face by his interrogators and shipped off to Gitmo on the Hudson to hang with us hippie anarchist protester types.
Officer Shore comes to meet me outside the cage I tell him that I believe the property cop mixed up my bag with someone else’s Polaroid. He goes to straighten it out and comes back successful. Time for paperwork. He asks me a bunch of personal questions that he writes down on a legal-size triplicate carbon-copy form. Later I notice he is sitting at a bench hand copying more versions of this triplicate carbon form. He comments that normally he would enter this information into a computer directly, but since there are so many people, it is somehow more efficient to do it all by hand.
After some time, Officer Shore calls me up and I quickly recuff myself. He walks me to a sergeant sitting at a folding table who verifies that the four Polaroids are me. The sergeant signs the bottoms of each. I then move on to a station where my cuffs are cut off and a search of my bag takes place. I walk to a metal detector and x-ray machine and go through the same ritual as one would do in an airport. I’m led into a smaller holding cage of only male prisoners, maybe 40 or so.
Sometime later, Officer Shore retrieves me and walks me up to a desk with another officer asks me basic medical questions. I then move to another property search where my major items are inventoried and sealed in plastic bags. I’m told that my digital camera will be entered in as evidence and that I have to get the district attorney to release it to me. This distresses me a bit as I’m worried that maybe because they saw my Indymedia badge that they’d want to take a look and possibly delete any photos I have. I do have pictures of police arresting people, but nothing that I saw as obviously incriminating. This turns out to be unfounded as all photos still seem to be there after I get my camera back after my release.
After this property check process is complete I’m led into another smaller sized cage, maybe 40 people, segregated by gender, to wait. And wait. I’m tired, not feeling talkative, no bench space to lie down on, I decide to lay on the oily floor and try to catch a few winks.
At some point, I am roused and everyone in our cage is led single-file into the main large cage again. We are told to line up in a very orderly way in rows and along the inside perimeter of the cage as everyone flows in. As I find my spot to sit, I notice everyone has a paper cup and is banging it on the floor in unison to some surreal prison movie beat. Several other smaller cages are emptied, I look around and count roughly 500 male prisoners around me. An officer comes around and provides me with a cup and I join in on the cacophony that is growing louder. Another officer comes around with a plastic bin labelled COURT SANDWICHES that is full of bagged bologna sandwiches and I take one. I relucantly rip open the bag and peer in between the slices of stale white bread to discover a lonely piece of oddly colored bologna. A packet of mayonnaise is included which I garnish my balogna with. I take two bites and give up.
A Jerry Garcia clone stands up and starts making a speech about how we can work together and project love to the officers and how if we do it loud and with intent, we will all be released soon. I try, but I don’t see the cops moving to open the gate.
A few people stand up and start to mill about only to have a few cops yell them back into position. All of sudden someone starts chanting RESPECT, RESPECT, RESPECT. Soon we all join in. The cops give up and we start milling about, locating friends.
A long time passes until a cop shows up and reads off a few names. Those people step forward, an officer verifies their identity with the Polaroids, the gate opens and they are recuffed. Every 20 or 30 minutes or so another several names are read off and those people disappear. I try sleeping again on the thin layer of oil separating me from the concrete, using my shoes as a pillow and staring straight up. I want to minimize the oil I soak in so choose not to lie on either side.
What seems like hours pass, or maybe it really was. My name is finally called. Maybe half the place has emptied out by now. I’m recuffed and led single file to wait in a staging area to climb aboard a Corrections Department prison bus. Lots of officers are hanging out, reading the paper, drinking coffee and eating food that is slightly better for human consumption (McDonald’s).
I climb aboard the bus and find a seat near the back. It’s standard prison transport, metal grates on over all the windows and 6 solitary confinement cages that take up the front half of the bus. The bus fills and an officer climbs aboard to inform us that we are about to be transported to Central Booking. Yay I think! Turns out I’m only 12 hours into this whole ordeal. It’s about 9:30am.
The bus starts up and we lurch forward about 100 feet. Ignition is killed, some paperwork is dealt with. We wait. The bus starts back, we lurch forward another 5 feet, the ignition is killed again. More paperwork, or something. I see daylight ahead. Wow, sunlight.
The bus pulls out onto a main avenue and I notice what looks like hundreds of protestors lined up across the entrance to Gitmo Pier, yelling something. All of us on the bus scream excitedly at the glimpse of solidarity in the outside world. The bus meanders along the nicely groomed avenue, heading south. I see trees, a nice looking Hudson River waterfront and some shiny buildings across the river in Jersey City. Jerry Garcia is on the bus with us and he starts chanting THE PEOPLE UNITED, WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED. Most everyone joins in. I’m not really in a mood to feel happy, but I half heartily chant along. We pass another set of protestors, this time just outside a garage entrance to the Central Booking. More wild applause, yelling and support. We are loved.
The bus pulls into Central Booking and we wait and wait. A cop hops on the bus and informs us we are ready to be processed. He hops off and another cop hops on and calls out 5 names. Those five people disembark and are lined up outside the bus. They disappear with the cop into a door behind the bus. My name is called, I line up with the 4 others and am trotted away. We enter the door and head upstairs into a room filled with cops and what looks like three or four holding cells.
I’m led into a holding cell full of maybe 60 or so others. Again, gender segregated, this floor is just for the guys. The cell is very institutional, yellow cement walls, black painted bars, linoleum floor tiles, a sink with a push button water control that spits the water up like a fountain. There’s a low gray metal divider next to sink that has a stainless steel crapper. No door, no privacy, no toilet paper, no crapping for me thanks.
I’m confused as to what’s going on and am soon informed that everyone is waiting in line. It’s a long snaking line that circles around the room across to the middle and snakes back onto itself in the opposite direction. I ask where the end of the line is and get three different answers. I go to where there seems to be some consensus and wait. I can see through the bars that this a waiting area to be searched again. Prisoners (we’re in a real jail now) are brought out one by one, searched thoroughly and disappear somewhere out of sight. After about an hour, it’s my turn. I am searched thoroughly and disappear to the left into another holding cell exactly like the one I just exited.
This holding cell has more people in it than the previous one. I ask if there’s a line here and find out no, that we’re back to the name calling system of the cages at Gitmo Pier. I sit, I wait. I notice Officer Shore milling about outside. In fact I notice dozens of cops milling about, many snoozing in chairs, some drinking coffee and reading newspapers. There is a sign that says something like ‘Arresting officers are not to leave this area until their prisoners are processed’. It dawns on me that the situation for the cops is not that different than us except that they have comfier seating, coffee and newspapers to read. Oh and they are being paid overtime to be here. I was told by Shore that he was working something like 19 hours straight, got only an hour or two to snooze before having to work another shift. That was the schedule for RNC week. Thanks to the feds, there’s plenty of cash to keep these cops on the clock.
More waiting. Hours. At some point a cop announces that it’s cleaning time and we need to vacate to the neighboring cell. We join our neighbors next door and we are even more cramped. Almost all available floor space and bench space is occupied. Over the course of the next several hours, a few names are called and those prisoners exit the door and line up outside. They are shackled 5 at a time to a chain and marched away by an officer. More prisoners file in occasionally. I notice someone in our cell talking on a phone with the cord stretching though the bars. I suddenly realize we are allowed to make our phone call. It’s been well over 20 hours and I can actually call someone now! I queue up and give the San Francisco cell number of my friend Ryan whom I’m staying with in New York. Can’t do long distance. How about 1-800-COLLECT? Can’t do it to that number for some reason. How about normal collect call? The cop can’t make it work. I decline calling anyone else go back to waiting.
There’s a guy who just looses it. He can’t wait any longer and demands medical attention. He says he’s psychotic and he needs his meds. The cop says OK, he’ll call an ambulance. A while later an EMT shows up and the guy disappears. Then he’s back 30 minutes later.
To pass the time, a few prisoners heckle and banter with various cops as they walk by. ‘Yo Gonzalez, get to work you lazy bum!’, ‘Hey Sarge, can you tell that big guy to stop blocking the fan so we can get some air in here?’, ‘Hey, if we order a pizza can you guys get it for us? We’ll share.’
At some point, someone decides that it would be more productive if we all focused our energies on figuring out a plan to get us out of here quicker. A meeting is called and all cellmates come alive. It’s obvious who the organizers are by the suggestion of choosing a facilitator and setting ground rules of how questions will be asked and responded to. Someone suggests a hunger strike. Many think that’s a good idea. Then almost on cue, a box of cold peaches show up. That’s the freshest food anyone has seen in 25 hours. Immediately, everyone rushes to the bars. The meeting dissolves and surprisingly, one person is still into the hunger strike.
I look around and notice that a few enterprising cellmates are using their sandwiches as pillows. That’s about the most brilliant thing I’ve seen so far. The sandwiches, while not made for human consumption, are a gateway to a few restless moments of sleep.
Names are called. 5 people come forward. The rest of us applaud as they exit. This is the ritual every time names are called. Everyone supporting everyone else’s opportunity at freedom, or the next stage in this elaborate game. The door opens, new prisoners enter to fill the void.
Time just rolls on. I grow irritable, I don’t know how long it’s been. I catch Officer Shore’s eye, he checks in with me. I ask him how long it’s going to be until I move on and he gives me a generic answer. Another hour or so, I catch him again. This time he’s says he’ll see what he can do. He comes back and says he found my paperwork. It’s the second to last at the bottom of the pile he says. I don’t smile. The other four arrestees in Shore’s care have already been assigned arrest numbers and moved on. For some reason, I’m the last. Some time passes and Shore comes back and tells me he’s gonna see about moving my folder up in the queue. Several more rounds of names are called, I’m not one of them.
I’m feeling mental as my hopes grow each time names are called. I try not to think about it. Officer Shore approaches the bars, gives me a thumbs up and walks away. Two rounds of names later, my name is called. Freedomallujah!, as the Reverend Billy might say.
I exit with four others and my right hand is cuffed to a chain which is soon cuffed to the four others. We are led out the door by a new cop, up some stairs into an area that is obvious where fingerprints are taken. There are 6 hi-tech fingerprint scanning stations each one manned by it’s own cop. I’m uncuffed and led to one. Without saying a word, the cop grabs my hand and leads me through a routine of scanning each of my fingers and a few more of three or four fingers together. For some reason, maybe the oil on my hands, for each finger I have to be rescanned about five times before the computer accepts my print. I finish and walk back to be recuffed.
Once the five of us are done and recuffed we are walked down a hall to the mug shot room. I’m uncuffed and told stand at a particular place. There’s a bright light in my face and I barely see two cops seated in front of me. One is at a computer keyboard and another is watching a football game on TV. Moments later, I’m told to leave. There was no flash or obvious clicking of the shutter. Everything is digital and happens quickly.
Our chain gang of five is led into another cell area that looks like a visiting area. It’s a long room sliced into thirds with small octagonal stools mounted to the floor. Under normal circumstances, I imagine the middle section is where visitors enter to talk with prisoners through the grate walls on either side. Currently, it’s occupied by two chain gangs of girls. Women! I haven’t see women in like 15 or 20 hours. I see Nadxi and Liz. My spirits lift. I realize how grateful I am to live in a world where I see women every day. Prison really is one big sausage party. No thanks. Don’t need it.
Our co-ed prison party soon ends as our chain gang is led away. We are led through a maze of thin halls and levels of stairs until we reach an area that seems different in some way. I notice the paint is now a shade of industrial green instead of yellow. We are greeted by two bald cops who uncuff us and demand we line up against the wall facing forward. I notice a Marine Corps flag hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the hall. All of sudden, one of the bald cops very loudly demands that we empty our pockets in front of us. Several times he threatens that if we miss anything at all, it becomes the property of the New York Department of Corrections and will be thrown away. I nervously check my pockets five or six times. Bald Corrections officer number one comes over to me and very meticulously pulls every little scrap of paper out of my wallet and dumps it on the floor. He thoroughly checks every nook and cranny within the wallet several times as I grow nervous hoping I don’t have some long lost piece of hash stuck inside of a pocket or flap. Lucky for me, there is nothing.
After all five of us are thoroughly searched, bald Corrections officer number two loudly demands that we head down the hall through the metal detector. We aren’t moving fast enough for him and at the top of his lungs, ‘HURRY THE FUCK UP. MOVE IT! MOVE IT! MOVE IT!’. I will never been a Marine. Happily!
We approach a room with a middle section occupied by desks and several officers. There are more stale and foul sandwiches waiting and what tastes like watery Kool-Aid. We are herded into a fairly large cell, this time with long stainless steel benches and the usual sink & shitter combo as before. The big difference is that this cell has two pay phones. The world of possibilities finally open up to me after 27 hours.
We are now in the Tombs, a multistory complex where prisoners wait for trial. Welcome to the care of the Department of Corrections. The first thing I notice is an 8.5×11 color printout of a large W covered by a red NO symbol pinned up on the wall by near the corrections officers’ desks. I can’t tell if that’s irony considering who most of the prisoners are or if the officers are also not down with Bush. When I hear a correction’s officer approach from down the hall chanting ‘FUCK BUSH, FUCK BUSH’, I think I know the answer. Or is he just try to make nice with all of us? Considering that 81% of NYC residents are not down with the RNC in their town, I think it’s pretty likely that what I’m hearing and seeing is genuine.
A sign on the wall informs me that I can expect:
-an EMT to ask some questions (tuberculosis in prison is aparently a big deal)
-a representative from the Criminal Justice Agency
-Legal Aid to supply a lawyer if one is needed
Another sign informs me that breakfast is served from 4-5am. I think it’s about 9 or 10pm now. Soon, a very large girthed EMT calls my name and approaches the bars. He asks me some basic medical questions including the last time I had a TB test. Overhearing the last person lie and say 2 years, I do the same.
I chat with an activist who has had some experience getting arrested during direct actions over the years. He tells me that during the Mayor Dinkins and Koch years, things weren’t so bad, you’d get out fairly quickly, usually under 12 hours. When Guliani took over things became much different. He tells me that you get busted for simple possession of pot and expect to spend 3 days in the Tombs before seeing a judge. Part of Guliani’s ‘quality of life’ initiative and all that. We talk a bit about different pleas and that’s when I learn about ACD, which stands for Adjournment for Contemplation of Dismissal. ACDs are common outcomes in civil disobedience cases or situations where the charge is simply a violation. If the district attorney offers an ACD and you accept it, there is no judgement of guilt, but you have to avoid being charged with the same violation for the next 6 months. If you are charged, they can reopen the initial case and try you. Mr. Activist Dude tells me it’s very rare that happens. Most of the time the city doesn’t want to bother opening old cases, just too much work. He tells me has gotten 5 ACDs over the years.
A Corrections Officer approaches and calls my name out with several others. The cell opens and we are escorted down the hall to another cell, already fairly full. I note the capacity of the cell is 39 and we are now exactly at 39. There are several other cells across the hall and adjacent to mine. I discover a couple friends whom I haven’t seen since the big cage at Gitmo pier including one SF friend who I was arrested with. I feel some small comfort knowing that I’m not the only who has suffered this long without seeing a judge.
Scott from across the hall yells for everyone’s attention. He announces that he had just talked to a lawyer on the phone and that of 1200 people who had been arrested on Tuesday night, only 184 had been processed and released. Considering it’s around 11pm on Wednesday, that doesn’t sound very encouraging.
Back in my cell, both pay phones are occupied. Someone mentions that there’s a calling card number that has been offered up to anyone in the cell who needs to make a call. Free calls for the detained. I use the number to call Ryan and leave a couple of messages finally letting him know that I’m still locked up and I’m without a clue otherwise.
Word comes from Scott that some lawyers for the National Lawyer’s Guild have petitioned the court for a writ of habeas corpus on our behalf and that a judge has signed it. This is supposed to mean that anyone held for over 24 hours will be released by 1am. That’s ME!! FUCK YEAH! I’m elated as balls. It’s just after midnight now and I’m packing my bags, mentally of course as I have nothing. Then the bad news hits. The fucking district attorney has stayed or is ignoring the writ. If this sticks that means we’re back in limbo. We’re told to call the NLG back at 1:30am to find out the status.
1:30am rolls around and the call is placed. Fuckin’ A. The goddamn DA got his stay. No mass release tonight. A slight silver lining though, a New York State Supreme Court justice will take a look at the case in the morning and hopefully demand our release.
In the meantime, people are still called forth and they do trickle out. When they leave here, the next stop is to see a lawyer and then the judge. It’s the last stop in a cruel and drawn out game of disorient and confuse, fueled by healthy doses of bureaucratic administravia to ensure a snail’s pace.
I call Ryan and actually reach him for the first time at 3am. He tells me all sorts of great things that lift my spirits. He kicked off a FREE EDDIE campaign, and was selling on ebay a ‘Girlymen for Arnold’ sign that someone had given him after magically engineering himself into the convention on Tuesday night. He was using it to get a little publicity and funding for his RNC Video Project and to raise funds for my bail if it became necessary.
Someone has a list of RNC staffers cell phone numbers. To while away the time, someone decides it’s time to put the free calling card to more creative use. There’s talk of pranking and social engineering. I find the whole thing ironic as Emmanuel Goldstein, the master of social engineering, lies on the floor nearby trying to squeeze in an ounce of sleep amongst the noise and glare.
I’m very wary by now. I need sleep. The benches and floor are all covered with outstretched bodies. I find just enough space underneath a bench to almost go horizontal. That works, I manage to doze off intermittently. I hear my name and am jostled awake. Immediately, I put my makeshift pillows back on my feet and head to the open cell door to collective applause. It is my time. 9am it is.
A corrections officer walks me up some stairs and down a hallway that appears to be the staging area for the fingerprinting and mugshot process. I see two chain gangs of girls lined up on the wall preparing for fingerprinting. I notice one of my SF friends, Missle Dick Chick Jennifer, is one of them. She says something to me that I completely don’t comprehend. My mind isn’t awake enough to decode conversation and I try to eek out a sympathetic smile as I’m pushed along down the hall. Another staircase or two later and I find myself in the last cell I will have to endure, the holding area that connects to the courtroom.
There’s only four of us and we wait. The holding area is back to industrial yellow with the usual sink/shitter combo. There are three cage doors that lead to a low stool and a window where you meet your lawyer. Soon someone from Legal Aid comes and calls out the name of one of the others. This happens a few more times and then I my name is called. I enter a cage and meet a woman from Legal Aid who slips me her card. Before I let her say much, I request a National Lawyer’s Guild lawyer. She takes her card back and tells me to wait. The NLG has a few lawyers that have volunteered their time to represent anyone caught up in this mess that requests it. They have been working the courts pro-bono since all this started and have really been supportive in helping out anyone caught up in the city’s overzealous enforcement.
A bit later, an NLG lawyer steps in to cage calls out my name. Finally, I get to see a real flesh and blood lawyer. He shows me some court documents and that’s when I find out I have three charges against me. Officer Shore had told me I was just being charged with Disorderly Conduct but it turns out there are two counts of Disorderly Conduct and one count of Parading Without a Permit. Three charges total. I recount my story to the lawyer and explain that I was on the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street from where the marching band and action were when the cops penned us in. I was simply taking pictures, not parading or blocking the traffic on the street or sidewalk. Totally false arrest. He asks if I want to fight it. I ask what my options are. He explains ACD to me and says that would be typical in a situation like this. I ask if taking the ACD would make me ineligible for any class action suit that may arise and he says no. As much as I would like to fight this bullshit charge, I really don’t want to fly back to New York for another court date which could easily turn into multiple court dates and flights. He says I could also plea guilty and probably pay a $40 fine and be done with it. No way. I would rather fight it and find a flight back than let the police get away with that. He says he’ll check with the DA and see if ACD will be offered to me.
About an hour passes and an officer calls my name. I’m led into the courtroom and I see my lawyer standing at a podium in front of an older white female judge. The district attorney’s representative is a younger clean cut white kid, maybe late 20’s or early 30’s. My lawyer indicates to me that the ACD is offered. A couple of other case are called first, both end in ACD. My case is called and my lawyer informs the judge that he is authorized by me to accept an ACD verdict as offered by the district attorney. The DA confirms that it is offered. The judge asks me if I understand all this, I say I do.
That’s it, it’s over. I’m free to go. It’s just after 12 noon and the judge calls recess for lunch. Sounds like a good idea to me. I head out to find a bathroom that free people use and am glad I’m in the land of stalls with doors and toilet paper.
I walk outside to the cheers of a couple hundred people waiting. So nice to know lots of people were with us the whole time. A green hat NLG representative comes over and asks my name and contact info in case I need to be contacted for any future case that may arise. I walk on and am greeted by a volunteer medic who asks if I’m OK. I say I think I am, no wrist cuff burns or obvious rashes from the oily floor like others had. Next a smiling women hands me a daisy. Wow, so much love. I take it and decide it’s time to try and get my property back.
I pull out the piece of paper that describes where to go to get my property back. It’s a few blocks away. I walk over and notice a line of maybe 75 or 100 people waiting in the hot mid-day sun. I ask how long some people have been waiting, the consensus is it’ll take about 2 hours to get my property back. I decide to leave and come back later in the evening when the line thins out.
I had forgotten about needing to visit the DA to get my camera released. I double back to the courthouse and shoot up to the 7th floor. I sign in at a desk and am told to wait in the elevator lobby. Within about 15 minutes a clean cut suit shows up and collects my completely illegible pink property form. He soon comes back with a letter on District Attorney letterhead stating that my camera is authorized for release. That turned out to be much easier than I expected.
I come back later that night, around 11pm and there is only three people to wait behind. My turn soon comes up, I give up the two pink property receipts and DA authorization form. 10 minutes later, my name is called and my backpack and camera are presented to me. I verify the contents of my bag and check to see if the memory card is still in my camera. Everything looks good, so I sign for it and I’m done.
Interview with a very articulate detainee (Quicktime):
Other self authored NYC RNC arrest stories:
NYCLU Grades Policing Of Protesters At The RNC
Media coverage of detentions and court action:
Off the Hook radio show: Emmanuel Goldstein talks about his arrest experience E. 16th Street
RNCprisoners Yahoo! Group – stay connected!
Ryan Junell’s eBay sale to support RNC Video Project & FREE EDDIE: