Monday, September 06, 2004

How I was arrested, part 3

At about 4am, I was taken to be processed. My arresting officer, PO Blackmon, took me out, but since I was the first female, he had to register somewhere else and was told that he couldn’t bring the prisoner out. I went back to the big pen, and they finally cut off my flexcuffs from my other hand and offered me an apple. Eventually he came back to get me, and then we went and stood in another line. He grabbed the plastic bags with my stuff, and I held them. I ripped open the one and took my cell phone back. They searched my bag and transferred it to another bag, recording the contents and then they gave me a voucher. After that I was taken to someone else, and they asked me basic identification information. Next, I was taken to a smaller pen, and they gave them one of the pictures they had taken earlier that night. This pen was all women, and they offered us cheese sandwiches, which were 2 slices of imitation cheese between 2 slices of white bread. They kept bringing people into this smaller pen until there was barely room to sit or lay down. Everyone was crammed in, and we were kept there for the remainder of the night. In the morning at around 6 o’clock, we were told that we would be sent to Central Booking in 20 minutes. By 20 minutes, however, we discovered that they really meant over 4 hours.
Within that time span, some people started to feel really sick. Some women had respiratory problems, and were coughing. Others just felt sick in their stomachs, others had migraines, and one woman that I saw was already experiencing the chemical burns. There were over 100 women in the one pen we were in, and the pens didn’t touch each other but had space in between so that the groups were unable to communicate with each other. Some women asked the police officers for medical attention, but were refused, or even worse ignored completely. Thus, medical attention was denied, and one can just imagine that if something even more serious medically had occurred, what the consequences might have been. We were given cereal while the men were moved back into the larger pen, and they started transporting people to central booking.
My phone did not work at this time because I had no reception, but someone’s did and we sent around pen and paper and wrote down our names and our contact information. Someone started calling the NLG and telling them everyone’s name. We also held a meeting to state a few issues, mostly concerning medical attention. Someone kept saying that we shouldn’t be treated like criminals, to which someone replied that no one should be treated the way we were being treated. People started shaking the fence, and chanting, "We need medical attention. When? Now." Nothing happened in terms of anyone receiving medical attention, but at some point they started calling some names. Those people would leave, and were taken to central booking. My name was called, and eventually everyone’s name was called, but rather than taking us anywhere, they just put us in the cell next to us while they cleaned our cell block, cell 5aa. One woman said that they told her the burning of the chemicals on her hands was just PineSol.
From the new cell block, they took us to a paddy wagon, and there were about 20 some people placed in this police van. We had all been rehandcuffed by this point, and when we were in the van, people had limited mobility. My cell phone had reception at this point, and so some people made phone calls. One woman was really claustrophobic though, and she started to have a panic attack. We called out and asked if she could at least move to the front to get some fresh air, but they denied her, even after we stopped and were just waiting in front of Central Booking. Two of our fellow prisoners gave up their seat that was closer to the door, and so she laid down there. She was really shaken up, and not coherent in the slightest. Another woman was having major back and neck pain. She had a back injury and when she told the police and asked them to put her handcuffs on the front side of her body, they refused. She was in tears, and really upset, and there was really nothing any of us could do.
One nice thing though was that as we left the jail, we could see people protesting that we were being held in there for no reason at all. It was comforting to know that there were people in solidarity with us. In the van, we also sang a solidarity song, and it was just really nice, and seemed to keep everyone’s spirits up.

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