I have just broken in my window to get
into my house after having been arrested this morning at 3:55am. It is
now 11:44pm. No, I was note released with the others this afternoon. I
was released from Santa Rita
County jail, not at 5:00p as I am told by the jail staff that Kahlil was, but at 9:44p, moments short of being locked in for the night.
I was hoping to share with the list the
many interesting things that happened at the Berkeley City Jail, but instead
I will only report on my injury when Officer Hayes (Badge 459 I believe)
was showing off to Officer
Brown (Badge 7) how easy it was to snip off the disposable handcuffs and cut a gash into my wrist about 1/2 long and deep enough to cause what I believe will be a scar for life. "Tis not so wide as a church door, nor as
deep as a well, but 'twill serve." I was not assisted in anyway when the blood started oozing, but had to ask for a disinfectant and a bandage. Officer Hayes went completely silent and pretended nothing was happening
as I sat on the floor faint and asked for water. "Get up and get it over there" was Officer Brown's reply.
But I need to fast-forward to the arraignment and the guilty (no contest was my only choice along with Not Guilty. I wanted to plead Guilty to taking the street in front of Pacifica and will continue to take the street until this matter is moving solidly in the direction of wholesale board resignations and the acceptance of the 16 demands. Guilty? You bet I am.
Awhile after the arraignment, the other four in my micro group were released. I was not. No explanation. 1 hour later an officer answered my question with, "You have a $70 warrant for your arrest in Santa Clara County. We will transport you to Santa Rita County Jail, and Santa Clara County will pick you up from there."
I haven't had a ticket in Santa Clara County for more than 10 years.
Another hour or so later I was transported by van to North County Jail and placed in holding with criminals, including 25 years-to-lifers.
I was placed on a bus which sat with all the windows closed and no air conditioning in a small enclosed garage for about 20 minutes. 35 on the bus. 3 were white, the others black and some Latinos. I realized that I was no longer listening to KPFA, but living KPFA.
I also realized that no one in the outside
world knew I was there. I was certain most thought I had been released.
This was confirmed when I returned home just now and heard a message from
a friend. "Heard you were
released. Not sure why your bike is still tied to a tree in front of KPFA, but hope all is well. Call me." I couldn't. I didn't know his number and 411 is not reachable within the jail system.
The bus was stifling and all the people
on board were being treated with utmost inhumanity. It was a lively and
interesting crowd of men. I was surprised to learn how much I liked them.
It wasn't long before the yellow
stripes (from what I learned from discussions, Fed offenders en route to the Q), the yellow non stripes and blues heard the rumor that someone onboard had been arrested in front of "that radio station."
When we reached Santa Rita we sat with
the windows closed and the bus turned off for another 10-15 minutes. A
man with asthma could not breathe and was let out of the bus just as he
was passing out. We were all
shouting to open the doors for all of us, but mostly for this guy. He collapsed on the ground in a faint. He continued having a great deal of trouble breathing for the next 2 hours. We called the officers for immediate attention, but it was hours before he got it.
Through a series of mazes heading deeper and deeper into the Santa Rita compound, I was sent over 4 hours from room to room, getting smaller each time while the crowd got larger.
Everyone counseled me that I would be "cited-off" and released soon. They all knew my fear for my two cats locked up in the house with no food since the afternoon before. I knew they might be able to make the night, but I was quite nervous if I were incarcerated into the next morning. I really didn't think they would make it.
Every Officer I saw I told politely and firmly that I was there for a $70 warrant I knew nothing about and could they expedite the paper work for that (I heard you all just utter a collective "Ha!") or at least help me find the phone number in the book so I could call my neighbor who has the key to our house to feed the animals.
Most responses were, "What were you arrested for?"
"Protesting the radio station takeover at KPFA."
"Oh, yah, that. Oh, you'll be out of here in another hour."
This went on for 4+ hours. Not only had
I given up hope around 9:30p when I was sent with the crowd to the suiting-up
room to get uniforms and bedding for the night, but my crowd of supporters
had lost hope for my
being the first to get sprung as well. "Looks like you'll be here for the night."
"Looks like it."
I did make a final plea to the officer who put us in the suiting up room, but when he said, "Well, why don't you step inside and we'll discuss it," then locked the door behind me (he on t'other side), we all knew this was a matter for the morning.
10 minutes later he threw open the door and shouted, "Where's that guy?"
Everyone pointed or nodded at me. I was
"the guy." I had leant someone my vest and another person (and I emphasize
PERSON, here) a small jacket to use as a pillow (he had been deeply injured
in car chase in Orinda a week and a half ago, this 19 year old being one
of two survivors where the driver lost his life. I mentioned to him that
I had heard reports that the police rammed their car, causing the driver
to lose control. This was news
to him. He had no recollection of the accident. He was the nicest darn kid. I watched the nurse pick at two different groups of 40 stitches that had scabbed over since they were sewn. She had to practically operate on
the guy, but was not equipped with the proper tools, lighting, or medications (he received no local for an obviously painful and traumatic -- lots of damage to the skin -- procedure. I watched her literally hack at him -- and this was doubly hard cuz he had become my friend since the Berkeley jail.). Once outside the door I asked the officer if I would be returning. He said no, that I was "outta there." We went back and I traded my bag lunch for my stuff back and there was applause and fists as I left and a few "KPFA's." The folks took care of me.
On the way out the guard mentioned something to someone about "Yah, this is the guy with the lost paperwork..."
I had to check out with the warrants department. They said there was a $69 warrant that they were going to waive, but I should take care of it right away, like tomorrow. "What's the docket number?"
"There isn't one."
"What's it all about."
"Wait a minute." Shuffle, shuffle. "I don't know. It doesn't say."
"What do I do?"
"Call the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department tomorrow."
"How do I identify this."
"Wait a minute." Shuffle, shuffle. "I don't know. Just tell them your name."
"I haven't had a ticket in Santa Clara County since I left there 10 years ago."
"Well, give them a call and find out what it's about. You can go."
It's not over, folks. My personal belongings including BART card, credit card, cash, keys to my life and my shoelaces (Berkeley Police seized them, but everyone in the County jail with me had theirs) had been misplaced and were either in the Berkeley or North County Jails, but definitely not at Santa Rita.
"Come back tomorrow."
I hadn't the foggiest notion where I was. I don't know the area that well. My wife is out of town at a Waldorf conference with the car. So it will be back on BART with the bike after I fetch it from Berkeley. I live near downtown Oakland.
Well, luckily they gave me the cash value that Berkeley Police had recorded ($36). As I came out I had the smallest hope that someone knew what was happening and was waiting for me. Alas...
I checked into Kahlil's status and was told he had been released from Santa Rita at 5:00p.
10 others who were released about the same time as I was and I walked the 2+ mile hike to the BART station. It was now well after 10:00p, but luckily there were trains still running. I gave most of money away to my new friends and got my ticket. On the BART was the Examiner and Michael Frenti's beautiful photo and a couple of the guys were all, "Is this your radio station?" Uh-huh.
As I walked shoelacless through BART stations and downtown Oakland toward home I had a few more opportunities to witness to our cause and made a few new quick friends I likely shall not see again.
Without a key, I had to break a window to get in.
The cats are fed and torn between indignity and great affection (read purring and socializing). And I'm going to flop into bed for a three day nap. I haven't had -- as many of us -- anything more than a handful of catnaps for the past week.
Get this, there was someone trying to break into my neighbors car as I came up to home. They were foiled.
A day of great blessings and uncertainties, never to be forgotten.
-Wm Leslie Howard