I remember my first steps. I thought to myself, 'Wow, this is really great! I'm walking on two feet. And I can't even speak yet!'I remember the first time I road a bicycle on my own. My Dad running behind, supporting the back seat, and when he finally let go off I went in a wobbly display of independence. I remember my first kiss. It was in the 5th grade and I was at a party playing some kind of 'Spin the Bottle' type of game with my 'girlfriend'-which essentially meant a girl that I would occasionally go over to her house where we would sit in awkward silence-and we kissed, or should I say, pushed our faces against each other, and just held it there for about ten seconds, no tongue, no movement, no nuthin', only the overwhelming smell of Clorox from my over-bleached white painter's pants (hey, my corduroys were in the laundry!)
But the one thing that stands out about all of those 'firsts' is that they are stuck in my cerebrum like the metal plate that resides there. Some memory specialists say that this is because items are more easily placed into long-term memory when they are surrounded by emotion, but before this turns into a piece on brain synapses, gray matter and ganglia, let me get to my latest first: being arrested.
Wow. I joined the club. It was actually similar to my first sexual experience: it happened somewhat unexpectedly, it seemed to end before it even started, and it involved being handcuffed. Let's back up a bit.
Dennis Basso is a furrier with a fur store in New York. I have been outside his store on numerous occasions demonstrating my disapproval for killing animals for fashion and greed. On this day he was making an appearance at the famous Waldorf Astoria, where he was going to be honored for supporting the behaviors of cruelty and vanity in his customers. Amazing what is respected in today's culture. If you have a big bank account people will honor you, regardless of whether you pulled fetal lambs out of their killed mothers' wombs with your own dirty hands. Two separate animal rights groups were there to make people aware of just how dirty Dennis Basso's hands really are.
One group, called W.A.R. (Win Animal Rights) is a little more 'militant' shall we say. Their chants are more 'in your face,' including such epithets as 'CORPORATE FUCKS' and the catchy phrase 'SMASH THEIR WINDOWS, GLUE THEIR LOCKS!'They support the actions of the Animal Liberation Front, which is a group that believes that animals have the inherent right to live unabused by humans and are willing to cause property damage and break into facilities in order to liberate animals in captivity. The other group is run by a guy who is nice enough, a bit emotional at times bordering on the unstable, but someone who if a cop told him to get lost he would respond like a good military boy with, 'SIR, HOW LOST, SIR!' and be gone without the need to ask again. Let's call him the Unstable Soldier.
I was going to go to the Unstable Soldier's demonstration, which started at 6pm, but got an email from W.A.R. which said they were having a demonstration at 5:45pm, and so I showed up a little earlier. When the Unstable Soldier's group came, the cops would not let them set up. I asked Officer Schendorf (badge #5213) why this was and he told me that they (the cops) didn't have enough manpower present. I said, 'That should have no bearing on their civil liberties,' but oh what a fool am I, I thought that he might have respected the oath he had taken to uphold the Constitution and actually cared about the rights of the Citizen.
After being involved with W.A.R. for almost an hour, I went over to the other group and asked what the deal was. Unstable Soldier said, 'They said this area is private property [writer's note: cops lying] and said if we hold up any signs here they will arrest us.' This is a typical strategy of the police to intimidate activists into silence. What they rely on is a bunch of timid whiners who are satisfied with shouting out for animals in a soundproof room in a remote area of the cops' choosing.
POLICE FACT #1: The police will lie, ignore the Constitution, and do whatever it takes to get the result that they want' which is your arrest. This leads to silencing dissenting voices and money as most tickets are given solely for the purpose of raising revenue for the State.
I talked to a 'friend' of mine who works for another animal rights organization who was at the second un-demonstration. She told me how the Unstable Soldier had called the police precinct before and that the cops here said that they could remove the W.A.R. demonstrators and allow his group to demonstrate but that Unstable Soldier, being the non-confrontational guy he is, had passed on that option. Of course both these groups didn't need permits and the cops had no right to remove anyone from peaceably demonstrating, no matter who made a courtesy call.
POLICE FACT #2: Police will facilitate in any way they can for activist groups to fight amongst themselves, which is something with which the animal rights movement needs little help. The FBI even sent falsified death threats to the different Black Panther groups to cause infighting.
There was talk about all the demonstrators joining the W.A.R. demonstration, but some in the Unstable Soldier's group didn't like the risqu' chants that W.A.R. uses. I have a feeling it was more the Unstable Soldier himself who didn't want to associate himself with this 'volatile' group; he and my hostile 'friend' were somewhat running the un-show there and I think they were the ones who made the decision that it was better to be a non-presence just standing aimlessly than to unite and be heard. I talked to the leader of W.A.R. and told her that if they modify the chants that we could double the amount of people we have and hold up some fancy signs that the Unstable Soldier brought. She told me that she was not going to modify or apologize for what her group was and how they chanted and I responded in my best 'Pulp Fiction,' 'Negro, that's all you had to say.' Of course she is white and so this didn't make much sense.
I went back over to my hostile 'friend' and told her what I tried to accomplish. Needless to say, she didn't take this too kindly to W.A.R.'s response. Because she doesn't like one of the leaders of W.A.R., her interpretation of the situation was that Unstable Soldier arranged a demonstration and W.A.R. somehow 'stole' it from them. I believe her interpretation, and hostile attitude toward the leader of W.A.R. was totally off the mark and undeserved and based on her own dislike for W.A.R.
I told her that her group should hold up signs disregarding the police threat to violate their civil liberties and get arrested if that was what was necessary. As if one anus wasn't enough to serve my bowel needs, she ripped me a new one. She threw a gauntlet at me, 'Why don't you get arrested?'I told her that she shouldn't challenge me on these things, I wouldn't cower away because the big bad man in blue told me it would hurt his feelings if I didn't do what he said, but that I had a dog for which I am responsible and couldn't easily take a three-squares vacation at the moment.
I tried to ask the same cop that I had talked to before, why I couldn't hold up a sign there. He said something like, 'I'm in a crabby mood tonight. You don't want to mess with a crabby, mother fucking cop.' Clearly Emily Post's book of etiquette is not required reading at the police academy.
Now I don't approve of all of the chants that W.A.R. shouts. 'SMASH THEIR WINDOWS, GLUE THEIR LOCKS!' kind of makes feel like a bashful schoolboy who put chalk in the board eraser and is looking around guiltily to see if he is going to get caught for his mischief, and so I would remain silent during the chants that I didn't personally support. But the one thing I do know: if the groups were in the opposite situation and W.A.R. was being told by the cops that they would be arrested if they exerted their civil rights, there would be a lot of arrests made that night, my friends.
To go to the extreme for animals doesn't necessarily mean blowing something up or spending a night in the slammer. But what it does mean is being willing to do what it takes to, at minimum, allow your message to be heard. If we fold every time law enforcement says they don't like us making noise, not only are our voices silenced but so are the animals that are relying on us as their spokeshumans. If we allow them to quash our justice and rights, the animals will join the other pushovers in the soundproof room' a room that while silent to those on the outside, inside it is filled with the screams and terror of animals being tortured and killed for profit.
Finally I couldn't take the sorry bunch of non-demonstrators standing there with their tails between their legs. I mean, if you're not going to do anything then at least go home! I went up to the Unstable Soldier and asked if I could have one of his signs, which he gave me. I was going to hold it up on the 'private' sidewalk's curb. Officer Schendorf pulled a Dirty Harry and essentially said, 'Go ahead, make my day,' saying that he would arrest me if I held up the sign. (Interesting point to ponder: it's okay to stand on the public 'private' sidewalk, to even gather there, but if you hold up a sign' off to the slammer with you!) Rather than risking someone in his group being arrested, the Unstable Soldier asked me to give him back the sign. This was done not for my protection but out of fear of losing his 'house nigger' status with the police precinct (I apologize for the use of that term, but it is an historical term with a specific meaning and not a condoning of the word. I love black people. Some of the people I pass on the street are black. I love those black shows on television, like, uh, 'Sanford and Son.')
I had enough of all the bullshit and decided to leave. With rollerblades on my feet, I went up to the crabby cop, who now was standing in a line with around six other cops, which seemed a bit overkill to me for a peaceful demonstration enclosed behind a barricade. I said to him, 'You said that the reason you wouldn't let the other group demonstrate is because you didn't have enough man power. Well, you clearly have enough manpower now. So why can't they demonstrate?'
'Have a nice night,' he responded. The last time I was blown-off by a cop was in the back of a patrol car, but that's another story. I continued. 'You then said that this is private property, which it is clearly not.' I could have gone on with 'What is defined as private property on a sidewalk? How are we to know' because you say so? Is it posted somewhere?' But I left it simple for this simpleton. He said something equally dismissive and walked away from me. To his back from about ten feet away I said, 'I believe I deserve an answer to my questions.' He turned around and told his fellow S.S. Blue Shirt to arrest me.
Officer Palazzo (badge #23240), whom I was to become more intimate with later, came up to me and handcuffed my hands behind my back. I asked him, 'What am I being arrested for?' He said, 'Disorderly conduct.' I then said to crabby Schendorf who issued the arrest order, 'What am I being arrested for?' He said, 'Harassment.' I pointed out that they should figure out their story before trying to pass off their bullshit, of course I was much more p.c. about how I said this, as at this point the handcuffs were digging pretty hard into my wrists. Palazzo started to go into my pockets, probably trying to cop a feel like Matt Dillon's shady cop in the movie 'Crash.' I told him I didn't give him permission to search me, but this is about as effective as telling the school bully who is in the midst of sticking your head in the toilet bowl, 'And don't even think about flushing that!'
POLICE FACT #3: Cops will always put the handcuffs on way too tight. It is another way that they think they can assert their power over you, as infantile an action as a child who owns the stickball bat wanting to leave the game with his bat and everyone else in limbo after he strikes out.
ARREST TIP #1: The handcuffs close in an elliptical manner. If you can manipulate your oval wrists in such a way as to be perpendicular to the oval of the cuffs, you can later turn your wrists the other way to loosen them up.
As this was all new terrain for me, I had to decide how to handle myself. I considered shouting at the top of my lungs, 'ATTICA! ATTICA! ATTICA!' but thought that would just make passersby think I was doing an Al Pacino impersonation. I thought about reasoning with the arresting cop to let me go if I let him blow me in the back of his patrol car but decided that his overbite would probably make that solution more painful than the handcuffs. So I just shut my mouth and stood there like a dope. I realized in hindsight that passersby would assume that I must be guilty of something, otherwise 'Why would he be in handcuffs without making a fuss.' But it was a first and it was just as awkward as my other firsts. One of the demonstrators came up and took a picture of me and Officer Schendorf said, 'Stay away from the prisoner.' At this point I was already arrested so what harm could one more question do to me. 'Am I a prisoner?' 'Yes, you are.' Wow, how cool is that!
ARREST TIP #2: If arrested, don't panic. Stay cool and breathe deeply. This will help calm you down and lasso your brain back to the stable, to use a very non-animal rights p.c. image.
ARREST TIP #3: If life is a stage, then there is no place that is considered 'backstage.' Utilize every moment you can to further your production' even an arrest. Be careful to find the balance so that passersby don't take you for a lunatic that needs to be locked up. For example, speaking loudly but not shouting, 'I am being arrested by this officer for asking him a question. Please come and ask him why he is arresting me if you doubt what I say. His name is Officer Palazzo. Please ask Officer Palazzo why he is arresting me if you doubt what I say. Asking a question is not 'Harassment.' Please ask Officer Palazzo if asking a question is considered Harassment.'
It's funny how theory and practice are never quite the same. I asked the arresting officer to call his Captain, believing I read that I had the right to request this and that it would make him look stupid, dragging the Captain to the scene because someone asked a couple of 'difficult' questions. Instead he just answered, 'No.' Uh, okay. I thought I would sound desperate if I followed that with, 'How about a Private?'
A patrol car arrived to take me to the precinct. My hostile 'friend,' a militant feminist who takes offense if a woman is ever seen as a sexual figure, constantly uses her tall blonde charm to schmooze her way into and out of difficult situations. She talked to the two cops who got out of the patrol car and told them that I wasn't a bad guy, that I just had trouble with authority. I know she was trying to look out for me but she violated the most important arrest rule there is:
ARREST TIP #4: Never volunteer any information you don't have to.
Just watch any television police or law show and you will hear the phrase, 'Don't tell them nothing, Johnny!' repeated at least twelve times in the hour. Don't let the double-negative confuse you.
I was put into the back of the patrol car, which was no small feat as my hands were handcuffed behind my back and I had rollerblades on my feet. I was expecting the cop to put his hand on my head like you see on T.V., so that I didn't risk bumping my head on the way in. It seemed he didn't watch the same cop shows that I did, either that or he didn't give a crap about me banging my head.
My patrol car had two police officers riding in the front seat. I felt terribly irresponsible that their valuable time was being taken away from fighting terrorism to transport a suspected cop-questioner to the precinct. They asked me my name and I was deciding whether I wanted to give it or not. They played a bit of 'good cop' on me, telling me that they just wanted to help me out here. One explained to me that if I gave them my name they would plug it into their database and if I didn't have any outstanding warrants that I would probably be out on the streets and available to ask more questions in half an hour.
The other alternative was going to 'The Tombs,' which is a basement area in City Hall where all the derelicts that have been picked up for the past few nights are herded like cows with Mad Cow Disease [who got in that condition from being fed by their captors the brains and spinal cords of their fellow cows] to avoid them affecting the other cows who will mindlessly eat their feed and walk gracefully to slaughter. There I would be repeatedly sodomized for two days and if I still refused to give my name, a shrink would fill out a report saying I was a wack job and they would force me against my will to be fingerprinted and probably medicate me until I looked like McMurphy in 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' after they lobotomized him. If I didn't have to get home to take care of my dog and make some money the next day in order to pay my rent, I was thinking of letting the name thing ride and seeing how far down the rabbit hole this would lead me. Who knows, maybe when I got to 'The Tombs' I could shout at the top of my lungs, 'ATTICA! ATTICA! ATTICA!' and see if I could organize my own little revolution of derelicts. But eventually I just gave them my name. No warrants.
After I conceded this information, one of the cops said, 'Cooperation is a beautiful thing,' showing me that he and I are as different as Homosapien and Homoerectus, that to me there is more to life than just 'making things easier' ; the erection issue is not something I wish to get into at this point.
We kept getting stuck at traffic lights and I thought I'd break the awkward silence, like the never-failing icebreaker at a party, 'That's some punch, huh?' I asked them, 'Why did you become cops?' It was like I was interviewing them for a job and their answers left me feeling like saying, 'Uh, thank you. We'll be in touch.' They basically answered that it was a good gig, that it had a certain amount of security. That is like a doctor answering the same question with 'Why to make money, of course!' I would hope somewhere deep down inside the black piece of coal they have where a heart used to be, that both these professions would contain at least one person who would answer, 'To help people.' And I'm the one in the back of the car!
I think at one point one cop addressed me as 'dude.' This is probably right out of their Psychological Training Manual, 'When you have an arrestee with long hair, use one of the following terms to address him in order to establish a rapport: 'dude,' 'man,' 'brother,' 'guy,' or 'friend' and sprinkle in key phrases like, 'I hear ya', man,' 'I don't make the rules, I just enforce them,' and 'Who's my nigga?' I am impressed by truth and honesty, two qualities that are not in great abundance in today's world, and not by pretending to be 'hip' in a feeble attempt to ingratiate me.
POLICE FACT #4: 'Good Cop/Bad Cop' is still in the police manual under the heading 'The only tactic we know how to use.'
ARREST TIP #5: No cop is your friend. No matter how much he sweet talks you or suggests you cooperate to 'help yourself out,' he's looking at you like a lifer looks at his new metrosexual cellmate; don't even think about bending over for this manipulator or else you're going to get fucked.
One of the cops, acting like he was my friend, asked if I had any contraband on me. I said no and after a pause asked, 'What would you do if I said 'yes'?' Needless to say, they would arrest me for possession of contraband. 'Oh yes, officer, please add that to my list of charges.' As an addendum to ARREST TIP #3: Never volunteer any information you don't have to, there is:
ARREST TIP #6: if you are handcuffed in the back of a patrol car and have some illegal items on you, do your best to get it out of your pocket and shove it under their seat somewhere.
Then maybe later you try and ruffle some feathers by saying, 'The two officers who drove me to the station talked about how they had smoked some pot before picking me up and said that they keep it stored in the back seat cushion so that if it gets discovered they can just blame it on one of their arrestees.'
I asked them, 'Do you know why I was arrested?' They said no, that they were just delivery boys taking me to the precinct. I told them that I was arrested for 'Disorderly Conduct' 'no, wait' I mean, 'Harassment,' but it was really due to a cop having a big ego. One of the delivery boys said that there are people with big egos in every job. I said, 'I agree with you 100%, but I think giving a gun and handcuffs to an egomaniac is dangerous.'
Because of traffic and constantly getting caught at lights, it was taking forever to travel the ten blocks to the station house. Finally the delivery boys went through a red light. I joked, 'I'm making a Citizen's arrest for you busting through that red light.' They laughed, probably less at my joke than the fact that I implied that the Citizen still has any rights.
When I got to the precinct, I was joined by Officer Palazzo, the handcuffing officer. They took everything out of my pockets and did an inventory on it. They let me take off my rollerblades and put on my sneakers. They took my belt and shoelaces, probably fearing I would try to commit suicide, as it is a scientific fact that most people who commit suicide ask non-threatening questions beforehand. I got hit with a million dollar idea: Velcro shoes marketed to jailbirds. Note to self: when I get out of here, make an appointment with the CEO of Nike, or some smaller shoe company if I don't feel like selling out to corporate America.
ARREST TIP #7: If you are going to be put in a situation where you have a chance of getting arrested, i.e. anything where you choose not to close your mouth and eyes and lock yourself in your apartment, you may want to consider shoes with Velcro laces so that you not only don't feel like an idiot flip-flopping more than John Kerry, but so that you don't give the cops one more chance to exert power over you.
My shoes slapped around like flip-flops and my pants dropped to my lower hips making me look like one of those modern kids with pants hanging down around their ankles for style. Now I understood why parents always tell you to wear clean underwear, 'Just in case.' My two cellmates quickly started calling me 'Shitstain,' despite the obvious explanation that I had just sat on some dirt while I happened to be wearing my underwear, um, in the woods one night.
I had asked 'Good Cop #1' from the patrol car if I could give a post box when they asked me for an address. He told that would be fine, that they just needed it in case they had to mail me something. I also live only a few blocks from the precinct and didn't want any officers inadvertently pissing on my doorstep on the way to the donut shop. Needless to say, Officer Palazzo had a fit when he asked me for my address and I gave him the post box. 'What are you stupid?' I assured him that my grades were more than satisfactory in school, and that I even had a Master's Degree. I told him that I had asked the officer that dropped me off if I could give a post box as an address and he said yes.
Cops are trained not to think and Palazzo was no different. In fact, he was probably hired because of his excelling ability not to think under any circumstance. Unable to make any move that required him to work outside the police handbook, he left the area and soon came back with another, more official-looking cop. Now I had two cops yelling at me, hardballing that I would be there all night if I didn't cooperate. 'What are you stupid? You know you can't give us a post box!' This is the one time I raised my tone a little, because a man can only take being called stupid by the dim-witted so many times before he cracks. 'Uh, no I don't know that. If I ask an officer a question [provided that they wouldn't arrest me for asking it] and he gives me an answer, I assume he is telling me the truth.' I realized the illogic of my statement right after I said it. Using the word 'officer' and 'truth' in the same sentence is like using the words 'Keanu Reeves' and 'Stanislavski' in the same century.
They threatened that if I didn't cooperate that I would be staying in that cell for a long time. I told them that I was trying to cooperate but that they were too moronic to understand this fact. Well, I didn't exactly phrase it like that. But it was here where I had an epiphany that made me realize that it is often when surrounded by morons that truth is revealed, kind of like finding a silver dollar in a pile of shit. I realized that it didn't matter whether I was on my couch in front of the television or sitting in a jail cell, that when you have a slightly elevated awareness your peace of mind is not dependent on your surroundings. I was bummed that I had a dog to get home to and some money to make the next day; otherwise I would have stayed in the cell for weeks if needed with a dopey smile that would annoy my captors even more than my 'lack of cooperation.'
POLICE FACT #5: their whole system of intimidation requires you to be scared, miserable, or impatient.
If you have an attitude that you'll have a good time regardless of whether you're in their cell or at Club Med, it immediately takes their only weapon of intimidation away from you and actually helps you realize that this is not such a bad gig after all. I finally gave in and gave them my address, as the thought of coming home in three days to an apartment full of dog shit was a little less appealing to me than this New York version of a Club Med vacation.
POLICE FACT #6: Police work requires following rules and paperwork , and while cops are hired for being able to follow rules without questioning, most still don't like doing paperwork. Do your best to force them outside of their rulebook or to make them the maximum amount of paperwork possible. Make it difficult for them and you can manipulate their mood like a marionette. And you were supposed to be the one upset that they you are locked up' why, when you're having so much fun!
When Officer Palazzo asked me for my Social Security Number he was not pleased when I told him that I didn't have one. In a tone that implied I was lying he asked, 'Did you ever have a job?' I thought of answering, 'If you would like me to submit a resume to apply for a job here, I am not interested. I am too secure in myself to take pleasure in abusing others in order to boost my self-esteem.' Instead I decided to educate this man before me who was at such a critical I.Q. level that if he lost even one more brain cell he would officially be declared retarded. 'I had jobs in the past and I was given a social security number without my approval. I have rescinded that number that was associated with me.' I told him that I rescinded the number and pondered exposing the ignorance that he wore like a dunce cap to the cap-wearer himself with a question like, 'I'm sorry you are unaware that one can rescind a social security number. Perhaps you should do your research before you yell at someone for something in which you are ignorant.' I let it go, still exploring how hard I could push Palazzo before he pulled out his gun, shot me dead and planted a gun on me, giving his superiors a lame explanation like, 'Sure we took his belt and shoelaces, but somehow he managed to sneak a gun past us.' He pushed, 'You're telling me you don't remember the number?' 'I don't remember the number,' I responded, taking a note from the Ollie North playbook of answering most questions with 'I honestly can't recall' or some facsimile thereof. My answer wasn't exactly true, but I remember my first girlfriend also' this doesn't mean I am going to claim her as belonging to me.
ARREST TIP #8: Always answer a question with a question of your own or say nothing, or something that offers nothing. You can take a page from the master of avoidance himself, Ollie North of the Irangate scandal: 'Mr. North, did the President tell you directly to sell weapons to Iran and trade them for hostages held in Lebanon by pro-Iranian militias, and use the profits to supply right-wing Contra guerillas in Nicaragua with arms?' 'Your Honor, I honestly don't recall.' Better yet may be to give them false information that they think may be useful. 'Look, the guy with the green hat was the one who said that he was going to smash a window.' Another method is to respond with total disregard for the question. 'What were you doing outside there, son?' 'Those Mets really blew it last night.'
As I had no identification on me and he had no Slave Service Number to prove that I was who I said I was, Palazzo was getting frustrated.
Addendum to POLICE FACT #6: Police officers are mere robots who are bound by certain programming. When you function outside of their programming they are kicked into a system protect mode where they threaten you and try to intimidate you into answering their questions according to the book. They are unable to function outside of programming.
'Do you have a driver's license?' 'No.' Palazzo needed some I.D. from me. I thought if I held out a little longer he would either blow a circuit in his TRS-80 hard drive and look like the loser in the face-off at the end of the movie 'Scanners,' or take me in the back room and beat me senseless. Feeling sorry for this dimwit in front of me who would soon be replaced by a chimpanzee, in which case I would be outside the precinct demanding that the chimp get full medical and dental, I remembered the noble battle call from an ancient past 'Compassion is the fashion!'(Oh wait, this tired old phrase is still being tossed around. What's next, a revisit of the Beehive hair-do? I told him that I had a passport at home and I could get a friend to pick it up for me. This was the closest offering that would bring him back to the police procedure manual and so he agreed. He gave me my cell phone and let me make my one call, which I think is another television myth.
It was at this time that I realized that I had no friends. Despite a long list of associates programmed into my cell phone, it seemed that no one was in and no one was getting back to me, despite me leaving messages how vital it was for them to call me immediately when they got this message. Finally one of my associates called me back and she said she would get my passport. I told her to just get the passport number, which is what they needed, as I preferred to give the minimum to my jailers. After awhile she came by the precinct to get my keys and then left for my apartment.
While I waited I did mantra repetition, which usually involves repeating a Sanskrit phrase over and over again, to keep myself busy. I did the mantra mentally so as to keep Palazzo from having to grab for his nitroglycerin tablets as he asked me what the hell I was doing. 'Trying to remember the Social Security Number.'
I was actually repeating the name of a supposedly enlightened man whose workshops I had attended, asking him to get me the hell out of there and to also give scalding diarrhea to the officers involved. I was hoping for him to appear like the good witch in 'The Wizard of Oz' and tell me to click my ruby slippers together' with the shoelaces removed, of course' and find myself on my couch in front of the television with a new episode of 'South Park' playing on the idiot box.
I wanted to close my eyes but the intensity of the situation seemed to keep them locked open, like Malcom McDowell in 'A Clockwork Orange' undergoing his 'rehabilitation' complete with eye clips and violence and drugs, oh my. I, too, couldn't close my eyes, I considered watching the Keystone Cops in front of me 'violence,' and felt a little nauseated by the combination of civil rights violations and idiocy that I was forced to swallow as well.
I was in a small holding cell that held me and two other odd characters. One was an Asian guy around thirty years old who was dressed pretty nicely and seemed like someone who was probably at a party and stepped outside to take a piss in the bushes and just happened to stumble upon two officers wacking each other off.
The other guy was fat with a dirty gray sweatshirt. He apparently had been picked up for something and when they did the database check they discovered he had an outstanding warrant. He assured them that this must have been a mistake but, as they say, everyone in jail is innocent. It felt like I was in one of those McDonald's commercials where it is always one white kid, with his Asian and dirty gray sweatshirt-wearing friend going for a Happy Meal, the United Colors of Commercialism. [In recent times the dirty gray sweatshirt-wearing friend has been replaced by the 'black friend' or 'a girl.' I guess I'm dating myself with this reference here.]
Dirty gray sweatshirt guy kept saying how he was starving and how he had to take a piss. A cop at the computer assured him that he would get his piss and snack' not to be confused with 'Fish 'n'Chips' 'soon. It was a fasting day for me and so I hadn't eaten anything all day, but I was not hungry in the least. This made me disgusted how even after being arrested most care less about their abused civil rights then they do about their bellies.
They were going to fingerprint the dirty gray sweatshirt guy but couldn't find an inkpad. I was thinking of busting balls about their lack of keeping the office supply inventory up to date but thought that would probably only lead to them making a run to Kinko's to buy an inkpad, only to come back and have me be the one to de-virginize it.
There was a small hard wood bench in the cell where we sat. The cell smelled like they had taken a homeless person soaked in urine and mopped the floor with him. A few stray wrappers sprinkled the floor, which proved my theory that smuggling contraband in your ass is indeed possible. Separating us from freedom, or at least a chance to make a run for it past the front desk, were steel bars. They only ran along the top half of the cell, the bottom half consisting of wire fencing.
ARREST TIP #9: Always keep a pair of wire cutters in your ass.
Outside the cell was a sign that said, 'NO FOOD ALLOWED IN CELLS.' I thought of calling Palazzo over and asking, 'Why does it say 'cells' when this is the only cell we have privy to? And even if we were moved to another cell somewhere, would we really have time to stop by the local Korean deli and pick up a hoagie? And let's just say we were moved to another cell and you found the three of us chowing down on a six-foot hero that one of us managed to smuggle in his ass, do you really think if the sign had been printed using the singular, NO FOOD ALLOWED IN CELL, that we would use the excuse, 'We thought the sign only applied to the other cell. We didn't realize the no-eating rule applied to all the cells'?' But Palazzo looked like the typical high school bully that when confronted by his own illogic by the nerdy brainiac, would respond in the only manner that he knows' by pulling the waistband of the geek's underwear over his head. And so I just laughed to myself at this little scenario in my head, appearing almost as mindless as the dirty gray sweatshirt guy.
After my friend called with my passport number, I was soon released, walking out of the precinct with shoelaces in my hand and my sneakers flopping away, feeling as in need of someone to hold my hand as Dustin Hoffman's character in 'Rain Man.' When I got outside, to my surprise there were about seven people from W.A.R. waiting there for me. I felt loved, especially after all of my so-called 'friends' but one had left me to pick up a staph infection in the holding cell rather than calling me back. My hostile 'friend' told me later that she had gone to the precinct but didn't stay. Just like my feelings regarding holding a demonstration, it kind of shows you who is willing to go 'the long haul.'I told the people who were actually there how I felt undeserving, that there are people who are serving multiple-year sentences due to their activism and that I merely spent a short retreat gathering stand-up material down at the precinct.
I was told that a press release about my arrest went out over the W.A.R. mailing list with the telephone number of the police precinct and that the precinct probably received calls from all over the country asking about me and to make sure I received vegan meals. Had I known about this, I might have chosen to stay longer and let Palazzo blow his gasket.
I offered to treat them all to herbal tea. They said they had to go, probably to throw some bricks through fur store windows or something. I thanked them again, wished them a good night, and as I walked home not sure if I would soon wake up in my bed and realize it was all just a strange dream, I thought how bizarre this whole evening was-- and how I wouldn't have it any other way. I would have a chance to revisit this situation at my court hearing on December 30th.
There are many lessons learned from this little incident:
(1) If you care about anything more than your freedom and your rights, be it a dog or your children or your job, all someone has to do is threaten one of your 'valuables' and you will give up your freedom and rights in an instant. We should all ask ourselves: How much do we really care about the issue of animal rights and what are we willing to sacrifice on the road to achieve it?
(2) What divides the people in the current police state in which we live is the belief that we are separate from others who have different issues in which they choose to champion, or even differing opinions on the same issues. Most people who don't care about animal rights don't even slow down their stride if they see an animal rights activist's rights being violated. If we want to take back the control of this country and put it back where it belongs, in the hands of the Citizens, we have to care about the rights of people we may even despise.
(3) I learned that there is a big difference between theory and practice, especially when dealing with police, and that while they may have the guns, it is our job as individuals and as groups to know our legal rights, to prepare ourselves as best we can, and to protect ourselves with the weapons of recording devices and the law. But our most important weapon is a psychologically prepared mind, because it gets real tough to keep your cool when you see your rights being trumped by might.
(4) I discovered it is also good to reflect on who your real friends are. Most of us associate with many people and even throw around the label of 'friend' as easily
as grandpa throws his back out when shoveling snow. But how many of these so-called 'friends' will really to be there for you, will sacrifice their evening plans to protect you, will drop everything and take action to help you? I saw that when push came to shove, very few of my friends were really there for me, some not even calling me back until several days after my frantic call because they 'didn't get around to it.' I also saw how some people you may not even consider your friends will pull together when needed because they believe in the issue and your right to fight for it more than they do their convenience.
I came home to a keyed up dog. She wasn't in
the least worried for my safety. She was just happy to see me. She
just jumped up excitedly and said, 'Take me out; I almost shit all
over the place!'
Asananda X is a yogi of truth. He leaves advocating for compassion or violence to others, instead seeking to inspire truth with humor. He can be contacted at AsanandaX@yahoo.com. He dedicates all his work to his blessed spiritual guru, Sri Baba Ganesh.