One would think that wouldve been the end of our encounters with DC law enforcement that weekend, but, alas, no. After taking a nice, long nap and showers at "Cs" friends apartment, we went to pick up "Hs" valuables that had been confiscated (I had gotten rid of anything I ever wanted to see again before I was arrested, only losing about $5, a metro ticket, my shoelaces, and a pair of socks). We went with some kids from antioch to the place they were holding the stuff, which we had been assured would be open until 6:00. Arriving around 5:10, we found a sign on the door saying, "closed at 4:00, no exceptions!" Confused, we knocked on the door, and after some time a very angry woman came out and basically told us to get lost, they were closed, and that was that. Now very confused (since we didnt get a reason for the time discrepancy), we knocked again, when a male officer came out and asked us what was going on. We explained, and he said, "wait here, Ill see what I can do," and crossed the street to his squad car to make some calls, apparently. Soon after, the woman returned, stating that we could not remain in front of the building, and if we didnt leave, we would be fined $100. We were a bit confused, and raised a bit of an issue with her being so impolite and unprofessional, but soon moved onto the street, and one of our group said something to the effect of "this is public property were allowed to be here." Apparently, the woman disagreed, because she grabbed the person who had just spoke be the collar of her sweatshirt and said, "Thats it, Im locking you up!" Immediately, we all locked arms, and after disagreeing with the woman a bit, which only seemed to make her more irate, we informed her that she would have to arrest us all (at which point Im thinking, "oh, god, not again"). She continued to try and pull our companion away with her, at which point I stated "You can her let go and let us walk across the street, or you can arrest all five of us." She gave me a confused look, and said, "No, you can go." I responded, "You dont understand. You cant arrest just one of us, you have to take us all," at which she gave me an even more confused look, and then just got more angry. Im afraid that, while I was able to witness the power of solidarity, I had forgotten the deescalating tactics I had learned in non-violence training. Luckily, the male officer ran up, called for backup, and managed to get us out of there and across the street. He then calmed the woman down (while four cop cars arrived), explain the situation to the arriving officers, and eventually even managed to allow us to get our stuff back. We stayed and spoke with this officer, and his supervisor, for nearly an hour afterwards, about the whole weekend and such. Im not sure how much Ive mentioned about the cops so far. But, for the most part, they werent too bad. They were certainly a lot better than the seattle storm troopers. In the several conversations we had with various law enforcement officials, mainly dc cops and prison guards, most all of them agreed with our right to protest, and many of them agreed that the imf/wb werent the greatest organizations in the world. Some of them didnt agree with the exact method of our protest "When you block streets like that, you affect people who arent even involved" (actually, we only wanted to block a two-block area, thus only affecting little besides the imf/wb it was the police who moved the barricades to include a 100-block square), but most said statements to the effect of "youre here to do what you need to do, and were here to do what we need to do." Though this certainly isnt the experience of everyone in the protests, I managed to have a decent dialogue with every official I tried to talk to. Expect US marshalls. Theyre sill total crappers. (Well, one was okay, but the rest sucked).
Anyhoo, we got our stuff, went to an italian restaurant (I ate sooooo much tortellini so good), and bid adieu to our nations capital. (I learned how to drive stick on the way back, too, but I guess thats not as exciting as being in the clink for five days.)
Sooo, final thoughts: Id say this whole adventure was a pretty significant event in my life. While I dont recommend that everyone run out and spend a week in a Federal Detention Facility, I do recommend that if you have an opportunity to do amazing things with amazing people, go for it. I feel that everything that I went through was worth it in some way or another I think out protests of the imf/wb, though not exactly shutting down the meetings, certainly made a lot of headlines and raised a lot of awareness about these institutions. Our jail solidarity seemed to work pretty well we all got out together, with little repercussions, and no ones life appears to be ruined as a result of the protests. We all learned a whole lot about the US prison system, and how thoroughly asinine it all is. (Even though we went in there with a huge amount of privilege, stayed as a group, had a ton of political pressure from the outside, and were primarily white, it was still extremely hard to get through being in jail we were still intimidated and lied to, some of us were physically abused, we were denied communication with the outside world and even our lawyers. Of the inmates I saw in the prison, I would say 90% of them were black males between the ages of 18 and 30. What hell must they go through?) I would say the most influential aspect of the whole experience was the whole process of acting as an organic, dynamic, collective whole with a group of amazing people to get through a really tough experience. Through our action as a union, we empowered ourselves to navigate through the fascist bureaucracy, make it respond to us as human beings, reach out and touch those were trapped within it (on both sides of the cells), and escape with the ability to say that it actually was a positive experience in our lives. Yeah. And I cant help but think that those of us who went through this certainly arent finished. Were going to keep sharing our experiences and the skills we learned non-violence, civil disobedience, consensus process, affinity groups, etc. and keep on going. Weve all got to fight against these injustices that plague our world. This isnt the last protest Ill be attending. See you at the next one.
Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org