Long story short: I got arrested and detained for 16 hours in jail.
Short story long: It was the longest 16 hours of my life. I got arrested at Grant Park for refusing to leave the park around 2 in the morning. We were zip-tied and put on a bus which then took us to the station. At the station, we were stripped of all of our belongings, including shoe strings, and shown to the first cell. After that I was moved to another cell for a short time and then another cell after being indexed, mugshot, fingerprints and all, into the system. My final cell was about 10’ by 10’ concrete with a concrete bench going around two of the walls. On the other wall was a steel toilet and a very disgusting dirty water fountain. Never have I ever been so uncomfortable for so long. We were originally thinking that we would be released by 8 or 9 am like last week’s protesters were, slowly we began to realize that wasn’t going to happen. Time was pretty much non-existent, so I had no way of knowing how long I was actually in there, but I could tell it was beginning to be a really long time. The guard told me that I would be released four hours after I was fingerprinted because that was how long it took to register the prints or something. 5 hours passed and nobody was being released. People in the cells started to get restless and began kicking the doors and screaming manically for their phone call and food. About 3 people were actually allowed to call the lawyers guild and they came back and told us all that they could hold us for 48 hours, but that the fingerprints wouldn’t take more than 24 hours to register. I was completely isolated and only being told that we could be kept for up to 48 hours, needless to say that scared the shit out of me and thus my morale was extremely low. Jail was one of the worst experiences of my life to be honest. Everything feels bad and gross and you can’t find comfort in literally anything. I was constantly shivering and couldn’t fall asleep even when I tried. People began to be let out when the shifts changed and I waited another 4 or 5 hours as I watched my friends be let free. Some more people began to be allowed a phone call and they came back to tell us the time. 3:30, 4:45, 5:30. At about 5:30 I was told that it would be another 4 or 5 hours before everybody from the protest was released and that they would be releasing us gradually in random order, although it had been a long while since I had seen a woman be released. At 5:50 my door was unlocked and my name was called.
Do not get me wrong, right now and when I was in jail it sucked real badly. But I am very honored to be able to fight against this system with my brothers and sisters around me and I will forever be able to tell this story with pride.
That’s the best that I can document it right now. I’ll probably write a lot more about it from an actual analytical view at a later date. But for now I just want to document every detail I can remember.
This movement is a revolution. Not a reform, not a gentle push to a new amendment. For a revolution to happen, people’s lives need to drastically change. This is where I think Occupy Chicago has fallen a little short of its goals. From the time that I have spent there and at our general assemblies, it seems to me that people are still timid of having our lives changed. For this tyrannical system to be taken down, people will need to fall. People will need to be arrested. The system will need to be challenged to the point of breaking.
We need a new game plan. Something that is going to actually shake these people’s shit up. Nonviolent protest really only works if something great is threatened. Nothing is being threatened in these protests yet.
We need organization. This is something that every person at Occupy will tell you. The committee system is a great idea in theory, but there is no way to break up and talk about issues as a committee because the committees don’t exist outside of a list of names in a computer. An organized group that can create and address actual issues at the GA’s would further our cause tenfold.
Which brings me to my next point, the GAs. This is something that I feel people recognize as an issue as well. Saturday night, I was filled with inspiration and hope for America’s future as a large group of Chicagoins gathered and successfully voted on the movement’s grievances one after the other. We made progress in our statement and did it with precision and efficiency even through a little bizarre conflict. Sunday night however, I brought friends along to see this incredible spectacle of democracy. The GA spent the entire hour and a half cycling people to talk about how the GAs weren’t efficient or to remind us to keep warm and where the gloves and hats were. It was pointless, inefficient and unorganized. There needs to be actual statement being made by the group regarding our mission. Hell, I would like to know what our mission is. I feel that this inefficiency is partly because we do not want to state what is at risk and how much actually needs to be changed for our movement to be successful. To that, I say nut up America. This is our responsibility to the people. Radical change needs to be made, and quick. Either we can do it with organization and clarity, or the riot that springs up from G8 in march can do it with force and anger. It’s your call.
Since I am an active member in OccupyChicago, I recognize that it is just as much my fault as anybody else’s that these problems have arisen and I will be doing everything that I can to make these changes.