On Tuesday, our permit for “Camp Coyote” at the University of New Mexico, where our Occupation has been located, was not renewed by the President of UNM. When I read that the camp would be closed down at 10 PM, I knew I would be in jail by the end of the day.
We held our GA, as scheduled, on Tuesday at 6 PM. I had watched the Livestream of Chicago arrests (thank you, FDL!) on Saturday night, and I proposed that we follow their model of resisters (those willing to risk arrest) in the center with supporters surrounding us or on the sidewalk. We came to consensus on this, and afterward, we broke into groups to plan our actions. We excluded the media from the meeting of those who were considering arrest. I was one of 2 people in the “arrestables” group who were committed from the start. The rest of the group was on the fence, but we all wrote the phone numbers for our (collective) lawyer and another contact on our wrists and gave our names and contacts to our lawyer. We discussed our strategies, whether to go limp or go willingly. By the time we sat on the grass linking arms, there were 17 of us. As the crowd built and with support all around us, numerous members of the crowd joined us. It was awesome! The youngest in the group was 18, I don’t know the age of the oldest, but I guess 65 or older. By the end of the night, the number of arrested was about 30.
We heard the police would use “chemical dispersant,” and we had bandannas ready and water bottles filled with milk in our circle. We knew there were multiple paddy wagons and more than 100 police. It took one hour after 10 PM for the police to determine which agency (UNM police, State police or APD) had jurisdiction. (Apparently they did not think about that ahead of time.) Our lawyer and legal assistants kept us informed about what the police were doing.
When the police moved into position to begin the arrests, it was clear they were not suited up to use chemicals. That was a relief. The lawyer had informed them we would not resist. Everyone chanted, “Cops are the 99%.”
The first arrest was random, a man with his medic alert dog, who was in the crowd. I guess he did not move quickly enough when the police came after us. It was unexpected and not understandable. They took us off one at a time in plastic zip-tie cuffs. Only one of the group went limp, and we could see from the paddy wagon that the police were rough with him. He was alone from the moment he was dumped into a police car, and we did not see him again until morning. There was a man, also not from the circle who was grabbed up, and he tried to run. They threw him down and jumped on him. They put him in isolation (in a compartment in front of the women’s “side”) in our paddy wagon, but we could see and talk to him. He had a view out of the wagon at the front and told us the crowd was very large on both sides of the street. It was the largest night crowd ever, and we learned they remained until after 3 AM. Later, the crowd was subjected to “chemical dispersant” and batons that were deployed by some officers who arrived fully suited for a police riot.
We were in the wagon for about 2 hours before we were driven (wildly) to jail, in the desert on the far outer edge of the city. The booking process took all night. It began with our cuffs (finally, after 3 plus hours) cut off. They made everyone take out every piece of body jewelry (there was a lot of it, all kinds) and were prepared to cut off anything that could not be removed. It was very humiliating. The filthy, stinking bathroom had no toilet paper, and the door locked automatically from the outside if it was closed. They claimed to have no key and kept people locked in, just to demonstrate their power over us.
It is not a “well oiled machine,” and there seemed to be endless “process” slowdowns by the 99% who have all power at the facility. They are accustomed to their “drug and alcohol watch” routine, and they seemed to prefer that every half hour (“Lisa open your eyes and show me you are not dead. Lisa, wake up!”) to our solidarity revelry.
Jail is not supposed to be fun, and by morning they used the excuse of “something is missing” to move us out of our cells en masse (first the men, then the women) arms extended against the wall with our legs far back and wide apart, searching us all up and down, putting their hands in our pants and shirts. One of the older women was totally humiliated and sobbing. Being psychologically beaten is a critical, if unwritten component of “the process.”
Most everyone was released OR, no bail. We were each assigned different judges and different days and times for our court appearances. It is curious that most of the women (AFAIK) have an incorrect “incident date” listed. How this happened, I am not sure, but it will cause our cases to be dismissed. Women who reported certain needed medications (for depression or something psychological) have the correct “incident day” listed, and that is also odd. Or something. We are aware that some police and workers at the jail are “with us.”
The body jewelry disappeared, and other articles went missing by the time the process of releasing us began. It appears that this may have to do with the various jurisdictions. . .perhaps today some of us will be able to recover some of the missing items, from the UNM police, if they have them. Cash was taken, and getting it returned is another process that they did not explain or assist, and it requires a visit back to the facility to file a grievance to get it back. It was chaotic for first-timers.
The 99% who are the “usual suspects,” already long accustomed to the abuses of the system don’t have any support, and we need to try to change that. Some of us will soon visit a County Commission meeting, because the jail is under the jurisdiction of the County. Most of the arrested have little or no experience with the various separate PTBs and have no idea how and when to access the many bureaucracies. It will be another learning experience.
We are continuing to hold our GA at 6 PM at the University, if not in the park, then on the City sidewalk at the street. The support from passing motorists is steadily increasing. Last night, a professor from the University held a teach-in called “Teachable Moments by President Schmidley.” The police were initially intransigent to designate an area that could be used for the teach-in, and those who wanted to participate were required to “sign up” for the class. Eventually the police informed us that they were sorry they were put in the position of having to enforce the administration policy. Cops are the 99%.
We held a silent vigil last night, lined up along the curb, holding hands, for Scott Olsen and a woman, Stephanie, who died of an alcohol overdose near the camp last weekend. We will continue to hold this vigil after the GA each evening.
A few of us met with the Mayor yesterday to discuss possible City venues for our Occupation. He said he had visited Occupy Wall Street in NYC in September. I am trying to remain positive, and we are talking about taking our movement to libraries, community centers and schools; places where more of the 99% might feel more willing and able to join us.
Saturday, a march will be held to mourn the death of our Constitutional Rights. La lucha continua.