Jailed for marching

by Beth Seligman, J. D.

Summary:  We were jailed for marching. Some were jailed for walking home from the grocery store. We were denied medication, sleep, blankets, time, sanitation, and given bologne sandwiches for breakfast lunch and dinner even though many are vegetarians or could not eat that meat for religious reasons. Some were not booked for 40 hours, meaning we did not exist and some are still in jail and need bail money.

We were put in overcrowded concrete rooms with bright flourescent light and no place to lay down and left there for days. We could have been at Guantanamo, and this could have been you, your child, your sister or your brother. The 1% is consolidating its power against the dissent because their power and wealth is unsustainable. They would rather jail you then make any change. This is what the NDAA is about and we need everyone to stand up now.

Occupy Oakland and the hundreds who were arrested are peaceful people demonstrating for an equitable system.  I know because I was in jail with them. Some are still being held over fifty hours later. We were cornered at the side of the YMCA by violent police officers simply for marching against homelessness and the need for empty buildings to be used to house people. We were doing nothing but marching.  In fact, I was on rollerblades. There was no dispersal order.

But more importantly, we wanted to disperse but anyone who tried to leave was beaten with batons. We were smooshed into a corner by the police.  We are teachers, students, social workers, non-profit workers, from all sectors of society,  from ages 17 to at least 60 plus.  Some were not even part of the protest, but were walking home from the grocery store.  It could have been you, it could have been your child, your sister, your brother.

Everyone was held at least twelve hours but many of us were held over 40 hours without being booked, in deplorable conditions.  Our names were not put into the system during these hours, so we did not exist.  The media reported that there would be mass arrests in Oakland before the January 28th actions even started.  People were arrested for being protesters, not for violating any law. This was planned and coordinated in advance, most likely with the assistance of Homeland Security.

We sat in concrete cold rooms with bright flourescent light shining 24 hours a day, no blanket, no cot, no place to lay down.  The rooms were glorified bathrooms where you had to pee or poo in front of all the 5 to 25 other cellmates in your room and any officers or janitors who walked passed and looked through the window, or unlocked the door. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, when sporadically brought were bologne sandwiches, even though many of us are vegetarian or come from religions that cannot eat that meat, or meat at all.

There was no garbage can or bag so the pile of leftover garbage from used maxi-pads (which were sporadically provided) to uneaten bologne and the plastic and cardboard the unedible food was brought in piled up in the corner.  We were basically living in a bathroom filled with garbage. We were denied clocks, watches, paper, pens, phone calls (except for a few people who asked the right guard at the right time for their phone call) and most importantly medicine.

Many needed medications, some every 3 to 4 hours, and when I was released they were still denied it for over 36 hours, and they were going into withdrawal.  Some are still there and need bail money.  They are being charged with felonies simply for trying to find a way to disperse by entering an open door to find an exit because police were cornering us and batoning people who tried to leave.  When they finally started booking us for release from the jail, some were sent back into their cells because the booking officer did not like them.

And there are reports that some were beaten simply for saying something an officer did not like.  We were held in zip tie handcuffs for hours in buses with cages before we arrived at the jail.  Some people’s arms were twisted into the zip ties nearly cutting off their circulation, yet the police officers ignored their cries of pain and refused to loosen the hand ties.  One nineteen year old in my cell had her zip ties so tight that when they were cut off by the officer they made a gash in her wrist that bled profusely.

As to the so called “violence” by occupiers at City Hall, these acts occurred after Occupiers that escaped witnessed their friends, who were part of a peaceful march, being beaten with batons and cornered by police. The media, and even progressive media, focusing on a few acts of vandalism which happened in a desperate response to actual violence committed by the police against peaceful protestors, and obviously condoned by the Mayor, is a disgrace and misses the point.

We could just as easily have been at Guantanamo. This is for real! Economic conditions are worsening, the powers that be are worried about dissent growing, and they are practicing.  The public needs to stand up against it now, or else the time will come that it will be you swept off the street and imprisoned anonymously.  This is about the 1% holding on to their wealth at the expense of the 99%.  They do not want to give up any of their excessive wealth, control or privileges, yet it is unsustainable.  So they are tightening a system that will quell all dissent through their ownership of the media, the politicians, the prisons, and the courts.

The NDAA (the National Defense Authorization Act), the Patriot Act and the AETA (Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act) are all examples of the 1% re-writing and enacting laws to legalize suppression of dissent to protect corporations, whose interests are limited to corporate profits.  This is one of the first things Hitler did when he came to power.  And most Germans turned their heads.  It cannot be just a few thousand people in each city standing up to this.  This needs to be millions.

Join us now or forever hold your peace when they come for you or your child for requesting a basic right or reporting a violation of someone or a community’s rights.  We are at a crossroads, do you want to continue listening to the mainstream media that reports corporate interests or will you please start reading alternative people-based media to hear truth so you will stand up before it’s too late?  We must salvage anything that’s left of democracy, the constitution, and the Earth that feeds and clothes us, and that provides the oxygen we breathe and the water we drink.

That is ultimately what our system is destroying in its emphasis on immediate consumption and production for the benefit of the 1% and their multiple mansions and airplanes.  All that we consume and produce ultimately comes from the limited resources of the Earth.  Stand up now or your children will have nothing to look forward to except prison camps, asthma, and chemicals.  Take the time to educate, spread the word, and march with us.  This can actually be more entertaining then your weekend movie, television shows, or shopping trips.  Lets get together, get to know our communities and stand up for a peaceful just system at the same time.

Artwork from Children who participated at the Children’s Village October-November 2011
Inspired by stories in early January of #OccupyOakland 24-7 Vigil people being arrested for possession of a yoga mat, lynching, loitering – and for taking a blanket back from the trash after OPD threw it out during a tentcamp raid.

“We haven’t been violent. You need to be nice. We love peace. You can not hurt us!”
by Millea Kenin age 6 

“Police – Protect poor people!”
by David Kenin age 5