The Five Minute March
New York, NY–Finally it was Wednesday again! After a few nights of banging pans on my roof alone accompanied by strange looks from neighbors, the anticipation of the evening was nearly unbearable. When I arrived in Washington Square Park I immediately found my affinity group and began to make some noise. While I noticed quite an increase in police presence this week after our domination of the city just 7 days prior, I knew our numbers were just as strong as our resolve and we would not be intimidated.
After being introduced to some new faces and saying hello to old friends, a Mic Check erupted (at 7:37 mark in this video):
Cheers burst out and we began to scream “March! March! MARCH!” with an echoing “Away from the cops! Away from the cops!” The time had come. Pans held high, spoons in hand, we marched south to evade the wall of blue under the Washington Square Arch. The mood was jubilant, skies had cleared and the clanging of pots and pans was so powerful it became difficult to decipher the chant that had begun. Still high off the fumes of last week’s NYC Casseroles Night, we were ready to take our message to the city once more. By the time I was able to understand and join in the chanting (1..2..3..4 STUDENT DEBT IS CLASS WAR) I was being slammed against a car. Frantically, I tried to turn around to see what was happening, tried to figure out why I was being arrested. I was greeted with the response of “we’ll get to that later” and cold, tight metal cuffs.
Blinded by flashbulbs, I desperately scanned the crowd for my boyfriend, John. We were pretty close to each other when we left the park and I was worried he had been grabbed too. Thankfully, after being thrown against a few more cars and finally onto my knees, I saw him, free. I breathed a sigh of relief. The last thing I wanted was for the both of us to end up in jail.
To my surprise, especially after being tossed around the way I was, I found my arresting officer to be quite sympathetic. She consoled me as she removed the metal cuffs that had begun to cut off my circulation and pinch my skin, exchanging them with zip ties. There was even a moment when she considered cutting my bonds and letting me “walk the other way,” but a white shirt saw what she was about to do and screamed “Get her in the van!”
After unloading my belongings along with some phone numbers on John, we kissed as I made my way to the paddy wagon with my comrades. While being photographed I noticed an interesting trend: I recognized EVERYONE. Each of us were quite visible at recent #casseroles marches – running ahead and starting chants. Clearly we were very dangerous individuals that must be stopped. I was honored to be standing next to them, and as we piled into the paddy wagon my tension started to ease. I began to relax; I was in good company.
Our ride was short, ending at the 7th precinct on the Lower East Side. Surprised and hopeful, we stumbled out of the paddy wagon in hopes of receiving Desk Appearance Tickets and being sent on our way. Once inside they took everything but my hair tie, cut my cuffs and shuffled me into the most disgusting cage I have ever seen. Due to what I can only assume was a lack of plumbing, it was obvious that my cell had been the former toilet of many who had been detained within its confines. Blood and feces smeared the walls and the stench was nearly unbearable. I decided it would be best not to sit down. While inspecting my wrists, I noticed that bruising had already begun and started pumping my fingers to increase blood flow to the area. My fingers had gone a little numb and my restraints were certainly the most comfortable out of anyone in the group. After a brief inspection of my surroundings Therese was brought in to join me. We were the only women detained. It had taken them much longer to cut her zip ties, which were significantly tighter than mine and the circulation to her hands had been cut off. Working together, we massaged the afflicted area on her arms to give her some relief. Her wrists would be swollen by the end of the night.
After some chit chatting we began to hear some strange requests coming from the men’s cell next to us. Six of our male comrades had been arrested with us and placed in the neighboring cell, joining another OWS’er and four other lively gentlemen. Some might say that nothing is worth landing in jail over, but they have clearly never been to the Wednesday Night Comedy Show at the 7th precinct.
Quickly we learned two of the men in the neighboring cell were high on PCP and demanding snacks and strippers! Therese and I entertained ourselves by going back and forth with them for a few hours. I think we may have even convinced them to join us next week with a bribe of Chex Mix. Outreach can happen in the strangest places!
Time crawled as we paced in our hovel and a few more familiar faces were brought in to join us. With each addition to the men’s cell we Mic Checked back and forth to find the latest location of the march, excited to hear our comrades had continued, unphased by the earlier violence. We were hoping they were on their way to Times Square once more.
As 11pm rolled around my arresting officer removed me from my cell to sign my Desk Appearance Ticket, assuring me I would be released as soon as she received an appearance date. Excitement flourished: perhaps we would be released before midnight! She, again going above and beyond the call of duty, was calling my boyfriend to find out his location so I could meet him. Preparing to join him once more I laced my shoes and learned our #casseroles had made it to Times Square! BADASS! I was so proud and almost out the door before a commanding officer shouted “Put them back in the cell! Nobody leaves until we get word from Chief.”
Astonished and confused, I gripped my release paperwork for dear life. It was time stamped, I was lacing my shoes, I should have been free! As I looked into my arresting officer’s eyes, she again whispered “I’m sorry” as she took my shoe laces and put me back in the cell. I told her I would not return my release papers, and if I was held for over an hour I wanted to speak to an attorney with the National Lawyers Guild. She shook her head in understanding and told me she would get me out as soon as possible. With all my faith and trust in her, I returned to Therese and our cell, holding my time stamped release paperwork between my face, the bars and the camera aimed at our cage. Once again we began chatting between our cells and surmised that we were being held until the march concluded. The last thing the NYPD wanted was to let us rejoin our friends. Shortly after midnight our suspicions were confirmed and we were released.
Walking out of the precinct together, we were greeted with hugs, snacks (sadly, no Chex Mix) and water from the wonderful Jail Support team. It’s an incredible feeling to leave a place like that and be embraced by good friends. Our nightmare of a night was not so terrible after all: we would recover from our scrapes and bruises, and thankfully we were on our way home. I knew John was still waiting for me in Times Square and Therese and her boyfriend Adam were kind enough to swipe me into the subway to grab the F train uptown to meet him. We hugged goodbye, knowing we would see eachother soon, and I began my journey uptown.
With my second brush in with the NYPD under my belt (I had previously been kettled on the Brooklyn Bridge on October 1st) I am no longer fearful of consequence. There IS something worth going to jail for, and it’s not PCP, Chex Mix, or free pizza. It’s for our right to stand up and fight back.
– Nicole Rose –
Editor’s note: This story is one of several recounting solidarity casseroles that took place on June 6th; read multiple points of view of the first five minutes of this march, and a longer account of the march’s progression. An account on jail solidarity in Chicago may be found here.