I don't want to write too much on this blog (yet) about my actual arrest and charges, and interactions with the police. But I do want to briefly consider the Highway 70 and Hanley demonstration. This was to shut down the highway for 4 minutes. The organizers declared it a success because the police actually shut Hanley down. That's really ironic isn't it? The scene- as briefly as I witnessed before getting arrested- looked a lot like dueling protests.
Here are the people protesting the police and judicial system, threatening to shutdown the freeway. And here are the cops protesting the protesters, shutting down the adjacent street. And in terms of presence, the police outnumbered the protesters. The police brought the potential for much greater violence than the people protesting the police.
"If you want to know who is rioting, look at who came prepared for a riot."
And no government entity had any legal authority to shut down Hanley and restrict the gathering of protesters. There was no justification for that road block or the re-routing of protesters. It would have been one thing if they had blocked off part of the street for the gathering and then gone down to the edges of the highway and waited for people to actually try to go out in the street. But not everyone that was assembling, including me, was there to do something illegal.
And I am not sure there is a Constitutional basis for saying that a highway shutdown is not peaceable assembly. It may be that there is a legal basis for the police to be dispatched to instead close the highway down for the protest, not the other way around. One especially jerkish cop said to me in jail "The only time I've seen the highway shut down was for a Presidential motorcade, and that was only for five minutes."
Well, first of all, what is more important than the President? We The People. The Constitution, and especially the First Amendment. Moreover, MODOT's inability to provide structurally sound roads results in a lot of shutdowns for repairs, and in many parts of north city and county the streets are downright dangerous due to repair and lack of proper signs and lights. I call shenanigans.
And secondly, that Presidential motorcade was one minute longer than the demo was supposed to be.
The police think it is okay to yell at people and order us around and if we don't submit we should expect to face violence or detention, simply for not being respectful? Well, they had better expect some people to respond in kind, especially when they are breaking the law. Yes, I am getting right in their face as are a lot of other people. Too bad. They aren't Gods. They aren't the Law itself. They should not have this much power. And this anger has been burning under the surface for a while, and while Michael Brown's murder set it off, they have done nothing but pour gasoline on it since.
After dealing with the Berkeley police and that jail, I don't think that changing the complexion of the police is enough. Black or white, it seems largely comprised of bullies and zealous Good Germans. It is a culture of fear and everything about policing is based on fear. What kind of person is that? Especially given that the majority of people they deal with are NOT violent towards them. Yes, they see more of it than they would in their nice white suburban neighborhoods, but the majority of the public they interact with is not equal in the threat they pose to us.
I want the neighbourhood beat cop back. And preferably walking or riding around on bikes, getting out and talking to people and getting to know who is who. The police should know the people that live in their patrol areas.
The people should not be preyed upon by the police. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/09/03/how-st-louis-county-missouri-profits-from-poverty/
If taxes don't pay their salaries, and legitimate, fair and equal traffic fines, etc, they should not have the right to jack us up.
BERKELEY JAIL: YOU WILL PAY OR YOU WILL STAY... IN HELL
My cellmate was being held for a $1500 bond from a moving violation and failure to appear. They set the bond without a hearing, for everyone, and if you don't pay, you don't get out until your court date. I don't see how that is even legal, to set bond without a hearing or consideration of the person's character or past. (This is something I will be investigating.)
My cellmate was 15 days into a 30 day detention. They just flat out jack people up. The conditions are so awful (more on that in a minute) that they know the poor person will do everything they can to come up with that money.
And this is taking away from someone working, or finding work. This solves nothing. And cops break traffic laws. I hope all those cameras catch the cops that turn on their sirens just to get through a light (all too frequently talking on their personal cell phones.) And what about all the lawyers, judges and friends and family of the legal professions that get their traffic and parking tickets fixed, or never even get written?
If the law were fair about owing the government money for a crime or illegality, then all those sub-prime lenders would be in jail. If it were about who owes money people that claimed bankruptcy or didn't pay taxes would be held in detention until they paid or their bankruptcy hearing came up. No one's traffic tickets would get fixed. No traffic citations would be waived. To say that it is impartial is bullshit.
And do all these traffic citations make the streets safer? No. You just have single mothers that can't pay for insurance and already have a citation, but also have a job, and have to get the kids at school and to the babysitters and then to work, etc. And if you are driving around you see a cop you might be the kind of person that speeds to get away. Or makes a sudden, unsignaled turn.
All these traffic fines and warrants do is pay for the police. The jerkish cop that made the Presidential motorcade comment also bragged that it only cost $3.71 a day to house a prisoner. That comment is disgusting, and while the cash value is likely wrong, they operate like a for profit business.
When I first got there all the men in the other cell were yelling to me that Berkeley was the worst and that it would break the strongest person's spirit. (They said this kindly, the yelling was because we could not see each other.) After 2 days and nights in there, I don't know how anyone could do 30 days, much less 60 days.
It is Dickensian. It is freezing, probably to keep bed bugs and germs in hibernation as the justification, and to make it more miserable as the real reason. You only get one very thin blanket. You cannot use a toothbrush. There are no toiletries and they charge you even for sanitary napkins. (It is Ferguson that is famous for charging an inmate that was beaten by the police for getting blood on the cops uniform, but Berkeley seemed like the same mentality. Just glad I wasn't beaten. Or molested by one of the cops.)
The bunks are metal. Two four bed cells and one two bed cell. A toilet with small sink attached. No soap or hot water. If you want water between the three ten minute meal and telephone call times during the day, you have to drink the water from the sink from your hand, And you can only wash your hands with hot water and soap before you eat and drink. (One at a time, waiting in the holding cage until the other person is done at the sink.)
The food is barely 900 calories a day. You get only three of the most awful bread and meat microwaved sandwiches made by Lancashire. The bread tastes like baked vomit. You only get water to drink, and you have to leave your styrofoam cup outside your cell. You get no water between the meal times, which are anywhere between 7 and 9 A.M., 12 and 1:30 P.M, and 8 and 9:30 P.M.
They leave the overhead flourescent lights on all the time. There is no visible outside light or view of outside, even in the holding cage where you eat and make phone calls for less than 30 minutes every day.This is mid-level torture, especially with the low calories and cold and difficulty getting real sleep on the metal slabs. To have no natural light, no sense of time, and artificial lighting on ALL THE TIME.
There are cameras in the cell in addition to your cell mate or mates, so when you have to go to the bathroom, you wrap your blanket around you if you want privacy. And if you are taking a shit you have to wrap your blanket around you, even if you don't care about modesty, because you don't want to flood the cell with stink. It is so unsanitary but you don't care. Because the food will make you so constipated that when you can finally shit you just do.
You do not see any clocks or mirrors, and if you wear glasses as I do, you are not allowed to have them. There is nothing to read, nothing to watch and nothing to hear, other than the cops talking to each other and on their cellphones talking.
At night, there is no one at the desk, and if you need a sanitary napkin, or anything, you have to wave at the cameras and hope someone in dispatch sees you and will send someone up to respond. Sanitary napkins were not forthcoming during the night hours.
The place is so depressing that I understand why people become suicidal and even kill themselves even knowing they will only be in there for a thirty days, or even a few days. And while everyone seemed to have someone to call during meal times, I can imagine how much harder it would be if there was no one you could reach because someone had not paid their cell phone bill. (My cell phone was turned off, still is right now, for non-payment, and I was thinking "what if someone in jail could call me for free and got that message?")
In the cell there is phone for collect calls and crime tips only. The calls are ten dollars for ten minutes and they make the person you are calling give them a credit card number. When one of the cops that I confronted and who assisted in my illegal kidnapping (they called it detainment and arrest) cut off one of my phone calls (the free calls are on speaker phone, and the person I was talking to made a rude remark about them) he told me "That's not in your First Amendment preamble, You got your free phone call. No more free phone calls for you." When I got back to my cell I began trying to call everyone whose number I could remember.
(He and another cop also delighted in telling me that my lawyer could call the court, but not the jail, and if a lawyer does come "he might have to wait a long time, if we don't have anyone to bring him up here, cause, you know, we are real busy." Uh, yeah, looking at or talking on their cell phones. But actually, they were downright gleeful about it. They just want your bond money. They don't give a damn about your legal and human rights.)
While my phone privileges continued at the evening meal break, I had no way of knowing that for the day, and to have the only lifeline to the outside cut off was terrifying emotionally. (And again, how it legal for them to do this? Isn't that once again a violation of free speech? There is nothing in the Constitution that says people can only say nice things about the police.)
I did get out on Friday afternoon. The whole time I was in there I just kept thinking about James Foley and the others like him, who were in worse condition for much longer than I was, and how he was protecting the First Amendment rights of a people that do not have that in their own country. I thought about those kids that walked from Central America and Mexico and were sleeping on the ground. I thought about Nelson Mandela, Bobby Sands, Stephen Biko, George Jackson.
I looked at the woman who shared the cell with me and had been there for 15 days and still had that many to go.
On Twitter yesterday someone posted a picture of Kim Teehan, the Ferguson female officer that took part in the beating of Henry Davis and then made Davis pay for cleaning his blood off their uniforms. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/08/ferguson-cop-who-charged-suspect-bleeding-her-uniform-now-city-councilwoman
I wrote "I'd like to send her to Berkeley jail for a while." But actually, I wouldn't treat her or Darren Wilson that way. That is inhumane. It creates nothing but bad feelings AND IT IS JUST WRONG. Especially for traffic fines and warrants!
I have a draft about the Michael Brown, Jr funeral. (I will link here when it is done.) One thing I was really thinking about afterward was how different the experience of Jesus and religion is in black churches versus white churches. Same with jail. The average middle class white person is so terrified of jail and the police, and has so little judicial interaction with them.
In the black community the police are a constant presence. Like violence. And poverty. Even if someone has a stable family and a job, to be black is to be surrounded by young men that were gunned down by street gangs or police (whether unjustly or in the commission of real crime). And most black folks seem to know at least one person on food stamps, even if that person works full time.
Children grow up seeing more violence than white kids in nice neighbourhoods. When an Adam Lanza commits a random shooting, the children are flooded with psychological support and massive outpourings of community grief and solidarity. And when a black kid commits a random drive by, it's "oh, those people again."
Interactions with the police are not rare. And they pose a much greater threat than to the nice white suburbanites. Like my cellmate's children, hearing mommy or daddy call from jail is not that unusual. Most black folks seem to know at least one person that has been to jail for traffic warrants, and at least one man that has been to prison.
That black culture and white culture are so separated, and that black culture largely evolved in both submission and opposition to white culture, falls squarely in the lap of white history. The looting in the wake of Michael Brown, Jr.'s murder was nothing compared to white flight. Or the lack of funding for business development and jobs, aforementioned streets, etc.
Moreover, black people DO go to primarily white areas to do menial work, but white people ALMOST NEVER come to primarily black areas. If the neighbourhood is mixed, it is because black people moved in. (Except perhaps Old North, but most primarily black areas have a white flight legacy of white people that were too poor and stuck to be able to move.) It seems shameful to me that so many white people are afraid of black people, or have such a low opinion, when the interactions are so limited and one sided.
The police are all about fear, and they all seem afraid and vulnerable without the instant respect they expect for carrying a gun and wearing a badge. And I have really been trippin' lately on how their behaviour when one of "their own" is just how they complain about lack of witnesses and information in the black community. They say that rarely will any witnesses step forward, give them info, etc. (Again, local beat cops would change that.)
But that is EXACTLY what they have down with Darren Wilson, and all the other cases like before. No real information. No trust in the public, just as they say that the public will not trust them. They say criminals are lawless, yet they act with impunity, They have become the soldiers of the "business as usual" "good ole boy" "Local 1%" fortune. Chosen for their goose-step and desire to bully and be in control. We have no rights if they suspend them. They have too much power and they abuse it.
TIME FOR A REVOLUTON
I have totally committed to this "muggle" (non-magickal) world as it is, with all of us a great squeamish mass, writhing in discontent and desire. But I also believe that a real battle is going on right now between the people that see and feel a better life, and those that have no real faith in humanity to sociologically, politically, and economically evolve.
It's a great tug of war, very polarized, because it is such a new world and age, and a really big change with all the old anchors becoming archaic and useless. And in the past it was always the side that yanked the hardest that won, and that was always through violence and upheaval. And maybe that was the best solution in the past. I don't know. But I don't see it as a good solution now.
Seriously, look at this amazing new world we live in. This technology I am using now, and space travel, and massive abundance (and waste-- like debt it is a sign of wealth)-- and to have so many people be hungry and sick and thirsty and homeless and without satisfying work, suited to them? No. Crazy. Ridiculous. And wars and all this violence, and so much of it is really about fighting over who is going to get the greatest share of natural and human resources (labour and consumption, mostly manifested as money).
I feel like we are just really working it out and it is getting really messy because too much of the world's wealth is being withheld from the people that create it. And too much violence in the air. Just MELT ALL GUNS, and every other weapon. Symbolic step toward eliminating violence. There are enough other things that kill- accidents, disease, etc--that we should be able to find a way to get along without hurting each other and using violence to work out the ways to live together. But I can't get anyone else to do that unless they freely choose it for themselves. The Duck Dynasties and the Darren Wilson's are part of this world, and I think maybe it is time to start working around them.
Why can't those of us that can see the better world find a way to create it among ourselves? Maybe it will be the young people, but that is where I want to focus. Not on more violence. (One of the reasons I love trolling. A softer bite and no venom.) Anger is passion, I'd rather learn to live with it and soften it We need anger to create change. We don't need more violence. That is a fear based and a self-sustaining cycle.
I think the more people that begin to see that we can have a peaceful revolution and reorganize more equitably, all of us will be able to take advantage of what the world has to offer. Why can't share and divide up all the work so that everyone can do different things if they want, and constantly be learning new skills? And others that want to devote themselves to one profession can become the experts and masters to apprentice and journeyman? There is no shortage of WORK. There is SO MUCH to be done. It is a shortage of jobs. It is too much of the profits of labour and consumption being kept by only a few people.
North St. Louis city and county is like concentration camp for African-Americans. And the poor generally. This is the place of surplus labour, of the threat of more desperate workers to fill an employees shoes, so that everyone is so desperate they have to be obedient. A lesser version of the Berkeley jail, or any jail or prison. But there are a lot programs that could be altered and taken over without violence. Through massive voting, petitioning, and a lot attendance at community meetings, and applying for grants, engaging committee's and so forth.
I think there are enough grants and funding that if we fought for it we could create a prosperous, safe, city and county, with plenty of room for the capitalists to do their thing, but with more communities like the land trust over in Cherokee neighbourhood, More like the Hobo University, and Copenhagen's Christiana, and Findhorn.
And more co-ops. I am working on being the first psychic to win the lottery, and when I do, I want to open up a co-op in at least my neighbourhood, or even a buyer's club, so that people can get off the Wal-mart nipple and keep the money in the community. (The shorter distance that money has to travel, the stronger it is.) Until I win the lotto, let's start working on reshaping how government assistance comes into poor communities.
Co-ops would save a lot of money from going into corporations like Wal-Mart, and the jobs would be community based and sustaining. Without an owner or executives there would be no need for excessive profits beyond what was needed to keep it going. It would be self-sustaining and poor people could afford to eat decently, and not always be so afraid. And if there were soup kitchens and food pantries attached, the homeless and very needy would at least be able to eat, too.
Instead of HUD housing, why not HUD funds to buy people homes? No more of this fear of where am I gonna go? And if the co-op was also involved in the housing, maybe even an savings and loan. I haven't worked all that out yet.
The co-op could sell medical and auto insurance to the community at low cost, and perhaps even have a clinic and dental office, optometrist, etc. And the co-op could offer day care, and while it would require some funding, there is a lot of government money already going to programs like this.
But people aren't allowed to, or don't find a way, to pool together. For instance, you can get the government to pay a friend or family member to care for you if you are disabled, or for child care. But if the community could set up their own system with that money, and use it to fund a day care where people babysat children as a job instead of an assistance program, that would bring real prosperity to a community. And a sense of pride.
The local and state governments would see an increase in taxes paid by working people. The people that live in these "nice" communities and only want to be around other people that are just like them, and that have lives entirely built around the acquisition of possessions and the most luxurious, lifestyle then can acquire, they won't need to worry about people stealing $12 worth of copper wiring, or holding up liquor stores.
Probably some of that will go on, but I think it will be greatly reduced. Greed does seem to be part of past and current human behaviour. We see looting done by the richest Wall Street Bankers and the greediness of people like the Wal-mart heirs stealing wages from their workers. But the people that are in power now were born in a world that had less than half the population it has now. All of these technological advances we take for granted weren't invented during their childhood and formative years. They live in the past. They won't live forever. We don't have to get violent to stop the cycle. We just have to stop it.
We that are poor are able to live on much less, obviously. But the disparity is too great. This is too unbalanced. We The People are going to have to demand more and then manage it ourselves. Not just assistance, but better wages and better jobs.
It's HOW we are going to demand it that is really being decided. So instead of this tug of war, I think we need to share our knowledge and ideas with each other, and be smarter and more economical than they are. And be so sure of the abilities of humans to find solutions that we don't live in the kind of fear as someone that has billions and still doesn't have enough.
The state of the world right now does not even benefit the uber rich. Not just violence and diseases and crime. But out planet. Money cannot buy clean water, or more bees, or anything else natural. The earth, has millions of degrees hotter, and million of degrees colder. It is we humans that must keep it within a one hundred degree range, with very specific requirements for air, water, and food.
I don't think violence will wrest the entire world from the clutches of those that will plunder anything to make a buck. That might take awhile. I think we have to start looking for ways to create parallel worlds. Like those I listed above. I like the idea of a Christiana here that has its own police, community based, and centered around a "Peace Force". Let's have people that only have the job of going out in the community and finding out what people need and helping them getting it.
I don't want to invade everyone's privacy, but I do think all neighbourhoods should have an HOA, and the neighbours get together and work things out and get to know each other. We need to KNOW each other. If we are going to give cops the power of a gun and the right to detain people, let's make sure we are keeping an eye on everyone, both the cops and the robbers, and all of us in between.
And we need representatives from each community that go and talk to representatives in other communities. And perhaps that is what government officials are supposed to be now, but there needs to be some changes. We have to get MUCH MORE INVOLVED. It can't just be about voting, and then they just decide what happens with our money-- how much the school gets, and how much some private developer gets to build a business that the people that live in the community may or may not want or need or derive any benefit from.
Like Ballpark Village gets these huge tax incentives and credits, and it just put all the little guys out of business. They say it creates more jobs, but only if we don't lose a bunch as well. New businesses do not necessarily create more prosperity. And again, how much of that money is going out of St. Louis?
Or the insanity of building a new Metrolink a few blocks from the existing Central West End station, when the North side is so under served by Metrolink? And in relation to how dependent the North side is on public transit, under served generally. (And I am not even going to touch the Folly of the Loop Trolley.) If it didn't take so long to get to jobs outside of North St Louis on public transit, maybe people could get a second job, or save on daycare. (And fewer people driving without insurance, but, of course that will cut into all the local police budgets.)
A great public transit system that focused on the people that need it the most would benefit the whole city. And once there was some business development on the North Side, I'd bet that all these places that are so offended by saggy pants and grillz and whatever else wouldn't see those patrons anymore, anyhow. If you like to go to a place where "everyone knows your name" and they were playing your song, don't you think other people might like that, too?
The people that are the most loving and spiritually evolved and peaceful, like the Dalai Lama and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., need to create some sort of prison system that does not completely degenerate the humans we have decided to keep alive even though they are being punished by or kept separate from society. People should be treated with dignity and given DECENT nutrition, sanitary conditions, hygiene, and shelter.
The USA sanctions other countries for less than the conditions of the Berkeley jail and detention until bond is paid. If an Islamic group were treating people like the Berkeley jail, we would be hearing screams of terrorism and torture.
The protests and the activism of the people is strong enough right now to create real change. I think start by getting registered to vote, and let EVERY registered voter turn out at the polls this November 4th. Let's keep fighting for Justice for Mike. Let's work on getting the highway traffic stops turned over to the County PD and/or the Highway patrol. Let's demand better detention facilities and treatment. Let's keep demanding economic development. Let's get a $15 an hour minimum wage in St. Louis city and county.
Let's keep going with demands. Let's do it with wit and cunning, and smarts. Not violence. Not fear.
That's their game.