September 8th, 2004

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My NYC Jail Story

UC-IMC and NYC Indymedia have a lot of additional stories and info about this and other events from the NYC Anti-RNC protests last week.</a>

Last Tuesday and Wednesday (August 31, September 1) I spent an unexpected 23 hours in jail without access to lawyers, limited access to a telephone, transferred between 9 different cells, put in handcuffs 4 times, rode on 2 prison buses, and ate nothing but 3 stale white bread sandwiches (2 with cheese and 1 with some foul green and purple splotchy bologna-like meat product). All because I was walking on a side walk. Not blocking the sidewalk mind and 200 other people were taking up HALF of a sidewalk with a clear path for other pedestrians to use (I know the path was there because the police used it when they arrested us!). According to the police we were parading without a permit and conducting ourselves in a disorderly manner by impeding the flow of pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Frivolous charges that hundreds, including myself, were not guilty of.

A friend of mine was held for 50 hours without access to a lawyer. The 16-year-old girl who was in my temporary legal custody was held for 37 hours. arun251 was held for 24 hours. Another friend of ours was held for 30 hours. The city has been held in contempt of court and fined $1000 for each person held for more than 24 hours without an arraignment before a judge. Civil suits on the basis of false arrest, false imprisonment, and inhumane prison conditions are all being worked on.

We got to make phone calls only after having been in jail for about 16 hours. We all got to see a lawyer for about 1 minute before our trial started. After a day or so of sleep deprivation it is pretty hard to remember what you want to ask your lawyer and get it all said and figured out before you go before a judge a few minutes later. Luckily the National Lawyers Guild rocked the courthouse and most of us were released ACD (Adjourned Contemplating Dismissal) which means that the case was set aside, and if we didn't get arrested in the next 6 months it would be as if the case never even existed. If we did get arrested again in the next 6 months the case would simply come to trial and because we did nothing wrong we would almost certainly be found not guilty anyway. So there is no need to return to NYC for a trial (they certainly weren't going to be able to try 1500 people that same day so if we hadn't gotten ACD we'd have gotten a notice to appear just so we could come back and win our innocence).
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