Cops throwing bricks in the wall of social justice–Bailey’s perspective.
I thought it would be a good idea to write about my experiences over the last couple of days. It may seem a bit rambly and drawn out, but not only do people need to know what happened but hopefully others can draw strength from it. I can’t speak for Mike, this is from my perspective and possibly he’ll share his too if/when he is ready.
In the afternoon on Wednesday, July.25th, 2013 I was enjoying a relaxing afternoon at home with my fiancé, Dan, eating nachos and watching a documentary.
My place is very social. I live with my best friend Mike, his doggy Boo and Dan practically lives with us. We constantly have friends coming and going throughout the day so naturally, when I heard a knock at the door I yelled “come in!” expecting to see one of our usual guests. It took a minute, and when the door opened about 4 or 5 police officers rushed into the apartment, started tearing everything apart, told me I was under arrest and put me in handcuffs. Dan, understandably furious kept asking what was going on, on top of me asking the same question several times and not receiving an answer. Eventually, I was shown the search warrant and told that I was under arrest for mischief and conspiracy to commit mischief…not only was I incredibly scared at this point but I was very confused. I hadn’t committed any mischief, at least nothing I was aware of. I told Dan to go and find Mike and let him know what was happening. That was the last time I would know anything about either of them.
I was taken to the police station and put in a holding cell where I spoke to a lawyer. I was panicking a bit and he told me that everything was going to be fine and I was going to be released at some point that day. I’ve been through this process before so I figured I wouldn’t be there long anyway…I assumed they would just interrogate me and let me go like they do with most non-serious charges, but again, I wasn’t told what I had done! At this point I wondered what was happening with Mike and Dan. Had they been arrested too? There was no sign of either of them. After speaking to my lawyer I was taken into a different room where they took my fingerprints and all that jazz, and afterwards was put in an overnight jail cell. I was told by the uncommonly kind officer that he thought I would only be there for a little while. Well, a little while turned into well over 12 hours at the police station and about 24 hours of being held in custody.
At about 8 o’clock that night, a cop came over to my cell and asked if there was anywhere else I could go other than home because Mike and I were not allowed to associate with each other, as we were being jointly charged. This is wrong for so many reasons! Mike is very much like an older brother to me, we’ve been through a lot together and I can honestly say that aside from Dan there is no other person I feel safer with or trust more…I trust him with my life, and all of this is aside from the fact that I live with him, and I both needed and wanted to go home! I told the cop that I would not comply with conditions that stop Mike and I from associating with each other. He told me that in that case, I would be kept over night and taken to court in the morning to deal with it there. At this point, all of the stress from the last few hours became too much and I broke down…I was in tears, and told the cop that I was so confused, nobody at any point had sat down and explained why I was there or showed me evidence of the so-called “crime”. I just wanted to go home, I was tired and cold and my back was sore from sitting on concrete and feeling overall awful. All he could say to that was “it’s for painting on a brick”…wait, what? Really? Then I remembered, and realized I was being charged for something that I didn’t even know I could get in trouble for. I was advised not to talk too much about the actual “crime”, but everyone knows what it is anyway so I don’t really have to.
I was left alone again and the next couple of hours consisted of lots of crying…that’s how I relieve stress so it was a good emotional release. I also continued to wonder about Mike…was he there? Did he sign the papers? Of course he wouldn’t do that! A couple of times I thought I could hear his voice, which was comforting, and at one point I thought I heard him yell something and I yelled back. That’s when a cop closed the hallway door. All I could do was wait it out. I tried to sleep but couldn’t, and I don’t think time could have passed any slower. I asked for a sweater or a blanket because it was freezing in the cells (I was wearing a t-shirt and capri sweat pants) but they wouldn’t give me anything, yet they gave a sweater to the woman in the cell next to me. All I had to eat was a couple of granola bars and a cup of coffee. Eventually I found a way to entertain myself by ripping the styrofoam cup into tiny pieces and making pictures and writing things out things out of them. Fun!
The morning finally came and I was taken out of my cell, handcuffed to another woman and loaded into a police van. Men and women were separated into different sections and we could hear the men talking on the other side. That’s when I thought I heard Mike again, and I called his name, he called mine, and all I could say was how happy I was to hear his voice. I felt so much better, my best friend was right there with me and that fact alone told me that we would be okay. What a test of friendship! Neither of us were sure if the other was there, if they had signed or not signed and we both had a terrible experience but didn’t give in at any point even though we could have been free. I kept telling myself “Mike wouldn’t do it”, and he thought the same of me. The police wanted to divide us but they made us stronger…so for that, I thank them. I would let them lock me up in that cell for the rest of my life before I betray a friend.
Another thing I should mention is that one man was feeling very ill and stressed out, and kept saying he needed to be at the hospital. I don’t know his situation but I just overheard that. A cop pulled him out of the van, said something along the lines of “I’m sick of you, you little asshole!” and pepper sprayed him. At this point the man said “alright alright, I’m sorry! I’ll cooperate!” but the pepper spray kept coming, so much that it was entering the van now and we could all feel it. To serve and protect, indeed.
Men and women were once again separated at the court house and put into cells together. This part wasn’t so bad because I had company, and I got to know some of the women there who were all lovely and we supported each other. I spoke to my lawyer, who was very confused as to why I was still in custody. I explained to him what happened with the release conditions and after waiting several more hours (we’re now into the early-mid afternoon) Mike and I stood before a judge and were given our release conditions that didn’t include non-association…we could finally go home! We were overjoyed at this point, and even more so when we walked into the courtroom and saw so many of our friends there supporting us, including friends from out of town and one of my professors! It was truly an amazing feeling, and we were welcomed back with open arms and drinks and food at a local pub. When we eventually did get home, we discovered that the police had completely trashed our apartment. It was a mess, they took everything out of it’s place and just left it. They also took every computer/laptop, camera, my phone, and basically any electronic device they could find. It was an unpleasant situation to come home to, but we were just happy to be home with our friends and Boo. Our friends were awesome and helped clean, too.
I had no idea that Dan was arrested until it was all over (which is why I was wondering about Mike more than anything, because I figured he was arrested for sure). I assumed Dan had gone off to spread the word about what happened, which he did after he was released. He was held for about 7-9 hours.
So now, I am happy to be home with my boys and we are all awaiting court in August. Mike and I go on August 16th, Dan on the 30th. I have no idea what to expect from all of this, but we are staying strong and are 100% in this together.
All of us outside of the courthouse, just after Mike and I were released. Photo by Zach Ruiter.
Dan and I, happily reunited. Photo by Zach Ruiter.
To conclude, I’ve been thinking a lot about what to take from this. I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty shaken up. It was a scary experience. And you know what? It’s okay to feel that way in any situation like this. We live in a society where it is perfectly legal for other humans to harass, intimidate and abuse you. It is perfectly legal for them to lock you up and coerce you into betrayal and keep you in a dark, cold and lonely cell, isolated from everything you know. This was no doubt an attack on us for our political beliefs and activism. We are being unfairly targeted and these charges are an excuse to violate our rights to freedom of association and expression. Everything that we experienced over the last couple of days was done on purpose to gather information, cause divides in the community and destroy friendships…but like I said, it did the opposite. True friendship is to experience the struggles together, and to love is to care about someone else more than yourself. That is what all of this about, our political beliefs, our actions, everything. Love is the movement. Political struggles do not come without personal struggles, folks, and sometimes it feels like the personal ones are the most difficult to overcome. It’s okay to be scared because the world is a scary place, and to draw strength from this we have to stand up against the forces that make it that way. Sometimes being strong, and being brave is to simply keep going and not give in to intimidation tactics and other bullshit. We had a rough go at it, but we’re stronger than ever.
Thank you to everyone who is reading this, for your love and support though everything whether you’re hearing about it through social networks or you were able to support us in court.
In love and solidarity,
[Editor's Note] Please Donate to The Indignant’s Replacement Fund.