In 11 hours?
Yes. I loved my cellmates- they were funny, proud, wicked smart, brave, kind women. We would sing songs (which got us threatened with being locked in the tombs) and applaud when each of us were released. There was a lot of solidarity and trying to comfort each other.
The Sun Will Come Up Tomorrow and Solidarity Forever.
Nice choice. You’ve been in a jail before in the Middle East – how did this compare?
I wasn’t really in jail jail in the Middle East. I was kind of held in the station cause the officers wanted to flirt with me, and when I started crying, they took me back to my hotel. US jail is this sort of bureaucratic nightmare of inefficiency where the people who have to “process” you kinda hate you and think your unhappiness is funny. I have to make it clear that I’m the most spoiled person in the universe here and this is shit that people of color, poor people and trans people have to live in fear of every day. So this should be in the spirit of “God, jail is shitty”, not “feel sorry for me”.
Jail seems pretty shitty.
This was way better than being taken through central booking. It was relatively clean (though there was a giant dead roach on the floor) and there was padding on the bench.
And it took around 11 hours for people to get released.
My friends bought me beer and pizza afterwards. I met a conservatively dressed older lady who had been in for 38 hours, we bought her a beer. There were so many older people!
Do you think they seem like easier targets? Or more likely to go along with the police?
I think so. The targets seemed to be lots of older people and lots of petite women (though there were plenty of young men who were arrested too, and are brave and awesome!)
You mentioned that people there kind of found the arrestees unhappiness funny – how does that manifest? It seems like it would be really unprofessional to laugh as elderly people get locked away for 12 hours.
Jail just isn’t a professional place. One woman ahead of me being searched had broken wrists that were in braces. When the officer searching her took them off, she accused her of trying to hide a weapon, began screaming at her and threatening to send her to the tombs.
That is insane.
You’re utterly powerless.
Did everyone seem like they were getting released. How can they hold someone for 38 hours? Sorry, all of this is pretty foreign to me.
They’re allowed to hold you for up to 42 hours before reporting your whereabouts to any friends/family who might be calling after you to inquire. My mom learned this. So very often an arrest isn’t to charge someone. It’s just a punitive thing for its own sake, cause God, 48 hours of having to go to the bathroom in front of male police officers and eat stale bread and not lie down is awful. Most people seemed to be getting released eventually, unless they didn’t have ID, in which case they were taken through central booking.
Do you get to make a phone call as they do in every police drama? And if so, do you get to keep your own phone? Because I do not remember ANYONE’S phone number?
No! That was the shocking thing. They ask you if you want a phone call, but I don’t think they have to give it to you immediately. One girl was in tears because her friend who was arrested didn’t have ID and she wanted to call to arrange to get the friend’s ID so she wouldn’t be sent to the tombs. She had been in for 8 hours before they gave her the call. You’re also only allowed to make locals calls with numbers you have memorized. You can’t look in your cellphone contacts for instance.
Oh, shit. I am so glad you made it out. Are you okay now?
I am. It wasn’t a traumatic or scary experience, just a profoundly boring one which gets depressing because you don’t know when it will end. I don’t want this in any way to sound like “I had the worst jail experience ever” because… no. But jail in itself is an awful institution run incompetently by people who all too often throw out their brains and compassion when they put on their uniforms.
Any advice or message you want to give other protesters? Should we wrap this up with a message?
Yes! Dress in comfortable layers because it’s freezing. Eat before your protest. Write the national lawyer’s guild number on your arm. I was able to tweet in the police van because I had a small shoulder bag not a backpack and was able to text my friends/family. Don’t have clothing with decorative or functional strings, the officers will cut them off.
Honestly, it just sucks, you are in a tiny cell that smells like shit, and you can’t see who’s coming down the hall. But the people were great!
Picture via @mollycrabapple